Citizenship

Not My President

Friends abroad and fellow citizens, with Donald Trump winning the race for President of the United States, I want to let a few things be known:

I voted for Hillary. She was the most qualified candidate, with her a long career as a lawyer and public servant, and deep knowledge of international affairs. I had a few reservations about her hawkishness towards Russia, but there was no question what was the right thing to do in the voting booth yesterday. I voted to the best of my ability as a citizen, and I voted my conscience.

Donald Trump does not represent me. His hate-filled, divisive, misogynist, xenophobic rhetoric is offensive as words, and terrifying if translated into action. I don’t believe in further militarizing the US-Mexican border. I don’t believe in breaking up families with undocumented students and workers. Unlike many in the US, I don’t believe that our country is fundamentally Christian, or that fearing Muslims and Islam is rational. The thought of barring Muslims recalls Japanese American internment—one of the dark periods of American history. Further, I believe that Trump is a megalomaniac. He’s ill-prepared and ill-suited, and driven by his own overinflated self-image. When he lies about what he’s said on the public record, it seems, frankly, delusional. I do not believe he knows what’s best, or that he possesses the humility necessary to learn. His attitude towards women is regressive; we are more than objects or a demographic segment, we’re 51% of the world. Trump has led a cloistered, elite life, and they way he talks about Black and brown communities reveals ignorance and limited real world life experiences. He’s known for stiffing workers and avoiding taxes; he values profits over people—objectionable in business and wrong for lawmaking. His campaign has been short on substance and long on fear-mongering. Rural white people who have voted for Trump to preserve carbon-fuel jobs, to balm a fragile sense of whiteness, who are nostalgic for peak white privilege, it’s a pity you feel so disenfranchised. But there is a lot more at stake than draining non-renewable resources and reassuring white identity.

What inspires me. Yesterday, after I voted, my heart swelled with patriotism. I was looking forward to the first female president, and to stop hearing Trump’s incendiary rhetoric. Friends posted about living in the future that suffragettes made. H made a great point that’s easy to forget: the majority of people living in America couldn’t vote before 1920, and even then people of color couldn’t vote until 1965. It felt great to exercise this hard-won right among neighbors. I thought about my mom, and how she still displays a newspaper clipping from the early 1980s. It’s from our small town newspaper, announcing that she and a few others had become naturalized. My mom’s education was curtailed by economic necessity and the Vietnam War; she’s proud of studying hard, passing her naturalization test, and becoming a citizen.

Disappointment. The more I’ve traveled within the US, the more I’ve deepened my appreciation of its cultural diversity. I love that places like Santa Fe; Wichita; Minneapolis; Portland, OR; and Eastport, ME are so distinct. Our diversity and commitment to equality and pluralism are what makes America’s promise great. It’s intensely disheartening that so many fellow citizens are willing to take such a massive risk on a candidate with no experience as a politician, out of fear that a female candidate may carry on the legacy of our first Black president.

If you voted for a third-party candidate in a state like Florida, Michigan, North Carolina or New Hampshire… While in principle everyone should be free to vote their conscience, the way our electoral system is set up, some votes do matter more than others, and I’d argue that the responsibility to vote strategically surpasses the modest amount of self-expression of a protest vote. If you want to change the system, do it with advocacy and legislation.

The presidency should be decided by popular vote. The electoral system was created to benefit slave-holding Southern states. It’s archaic, un-Democratic, and confusing to the common citizen. Urge your representatives to support the National Popular Vote bill.

 

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