This “Dumpster Fire” Is Almost Over
Before this dumpster fire of an election got started with an angry screed toward Mexicans, I used to be a political activist. I volunteered for Frank Lautenberg and Erskine Bowles. I knocked on doors and manned the phones for Kerry/Edwards. I’ve donated to Barack Obama, and many other candidates over the years. I’ve even endorsed Republicans and Independents. I will be watching the election returns tomorrow, but the interesting thing for me is that I don’t live in a swing state or swing district anymore. I got no direct mail pieces, all the TV ads were for candidates I can’t vote for, and the emails I got were all seeking money.
I do have a choice to make, though, and it’s not very difficult. I was so #NeverTrump that I cast a vote I didn’t think I could ever do. I was #NeverTrump long before establishment Republicans adopted the slogan and I stayed that way when all those same politicians made their deals with the alleged billionaire. He’s an unabashed racist, misogynist, and would-be authoritarian. He has no grasp of public policy, and shows no interest in figuring it out. He retweets white supremacists and runs anti-Semetic ads. He has such a thin skin, he can barely contain himself during a televised debate. How can we let this man anywhere near the White House? We can’t.
But I also couldn’t bring myself to vote for Dr. Jill Stein, after she cast aside her 27 years of medical experience to endorse the anti-vaccine crowd. I defended Gary Johnson’s Aleppo gaffe, but several gaffes and odd-ball behavior later, it became clear the Libertarian ticket should have been reversed. And Evan McMullin is a standard-issue Republican that is not on the ballot in enough states to even have a prayer outside of Utah.
So that left Hillary. The wonk with a wooden, annoying public speaking style, but who has done well in every job she’s been given and has weathered a media and GOP-driven shitstorm and has not given up. Sure, I still think there is something unsettling about her track record and her secrecy and her lawyer-ese way of explaining away controversy. But the stakes too high not to give her a chance. To protect the gains we have made over the last 8 years, to protect financial consumers, to protect LGBT rights, to continue the work of combating climate change, to invest in the new technologies and new industries of tomorrow. To fill the Supreme Court vacancy and countless others that are obstructed by a GOP Congress that can’t even agree on who should be Speaker, much less on whether to do their damn jobs.
#ImWithHer. I’m not thrilled about it, but her main alternative, Donald Trump, is unthinkable. The rest, Stein, Johnson, and McMullin, are unelectable.
I am not going to make too many predictions of how this will shake out. Maybe Trump will have shaken up the map by winning Iowa and losing Arizona. Maybe the Democrats will win a dozen House seats, including one in my backyard (VA-10). And maybe Jason Kander, a veteran who can assemble a rifle while blindfolded, will upset a Washington insider in Missouri.
But I’m more concerned about how we move forward after this election. Are we still a collection of red states and blue states, or do we aspire to be something greater than the sum of our parts? Do we continue to let one side run rampant and unchecked by facts or political norms, or is there a reckoning with reality? Do we believe in returning to an idealistic past that never really existed, or in a future that is shaped by the better angels of our nature?
To paraphrase a favorite fictional character of mine, we Americans are fully capable of deciding our own destiny. The question we face is: which path will we choose?