To those of my fellow Americans who will check Mr. Trump’s name on their ballots this fall: Please stand up and make yourselves known.
Go ahead. Step right up. Shout it high from rooftops if he’s your guy, if he’s the candidate whom you genuinely believe holds our nation’s best interests more closely at heart.
Raise your right hand without delay or compunction if you genuinely feel he will make your life better, and just for good measure, let’s throw in my life, too. If he will fix what’s broken, right what’s wrong, and call to account the bad actors responsible for this Season of Our Discontent, no matter the robes and head adornments they come dressed in when you picture them in your nightmares.
Say it loudly and proudly. Stand up for the guy. In my book, it’s always honorable in some absolute and amoral sense to raise your voice on high in support of something, anything, if you truly feel it is the right thing.
But don’t you dare sneak.
And don’t you dare claim the choice was made for you because you just couldn’t vote for a Clinton. Like, really really just could not, and what else was to be done?
Don’t you dare cast your decision to vote a demagogue in to our nation’s highest office as some secretive and privately enacted issue of principle.
Cause here’s what I don’t get. Here’s the disturbing thing, the confounding thing, the frightening thing: Trump is polling high. Up and down, yeah, but he’s hanging in there.
He has a solid shot at ascending to the Throne of Western Democracy come January. A long shot perhaps, but a shot all the same.
And yet, strangely, I can’t seem to find anyone in my extended circle who will admit to being a dyed-in-the-wool Trump supporter. And my circle stretches far and wide.
The closest I’ve come has been a series of encounters with a few dozen friends and acquaintances who merely grimace and say, “Well, I just … can’t vote for … For … HER!”
I get that these folks are maybe hesitant to admit their allegiance to the likes of me. I am and have long been a Hillary supporter. (I’ve got my reasons; let’s talk about that another time.) Still, I get that Ms. Clinton’s policies and resume are unappealing to liberals and moderates for a host of absolutely legitimate reasons.
All that aside … Trump? Can you folks be serious?
And if you genuinely are, please identify yourselves. Because, loyalties aside, and no matter who was standing on the other side of the aisle when you cast your vote, if Mr. Trump wins office this fall, I want to know which of my fellow Americans saw fit to put him there.
Then, in four years’ time — hell, in two years’ time, when his disastrous policies gain traction and our constitution crumbles, and the drumbeats of radicalism (not just the Muslim brand) sound at our own doorsteps, I believe you ought to be publicly accountable for what you have wrought. Not in some fire-and-brimstone, Old-Testament-justice kind of way, but in a human-to-human kind of way. In a facing-facts kind of way. Not for the purposes of violence so much as plain and simple reckoning.
To be clear: this isn’t about vengeance. Our public discourse is already dripping with the nasty stuff. This is about accountability. This about the hardheaded and dangerous notion that we can ever, ever, at this late stage in our democratic experiment, claim to be voting for the platform and not the person when we know full well the power a single person can have — has had, and need I really point out the most glaringly horrific example? — in times of uncertainty to centralize power through legitimate, fully sanctioned maneuvering and then go on to bend the arc of history in permanently devastating ways.
It’s about acknowledging, too, that our society is anything but gender neutral, anything but post-racial and abidingly uncomfortable with copping to this ugly truth.
I want you to explain to my daughter how a country that elects a black man for president and runs a woman for president twice in quick succession can even consider following those things with a leap so drastically backwards.
I want you to acknowledge to her that deep down, on some fundamental level, our society still views humans who happen to have been born with vaginas as somehow less trustworthy, less competent, less fit to lead. And that we’d rather actively sabotage our own self interests and vote for a petty tyrant than see a woman who plays the game as ruthlessly as a man come to power.
Here’s what it comes down to: If we can’t erase the sexism and bigotry and fear from our own hearts, we have no hope of flushing it from our elected leadership.
Until we acknowledge these dark, ugly corners within ourselves and begin to challenge them in others, we will never be free.
But maybe that’s unfair. Maybe it’s going too far. So forget the implications for race and gender a moment. Discard them entirely if you want to, as Bleeding Heart drivel. Reject Ms. Clinton outright. Fine. There’s something bigger at play here than simple equality and equanimity. Way bigger.
What I know in my bone marrow is this: the lesser of two evils is still less evil. Every. Single. Time. And the greater of two evils, in this instance, has the potential to usher in a terrifying new Dark Ages for our nation.
Sound dramatic? You bet your ass it’s dramatic! So let’s be unabashedly grand.
Stand up, pledge your allegiance, and make yourselves known to the rest of us.
Otherwise, if you truly cannot bring yourself to vote for “Her” this November, but in your heart, maybe sorta wonder if a Trump presidency might have a whiff of sulfur to it, please do the patriotic thing and stay home.
Yup. Just sit this one out, then head into the new year with a clear if unsettled conscience instead of ignoring your unease and saying “Yes” to a man who, deep down, makes you pretty fucking nervous.
You’re right to be nervous, folks! Something is at stake here. Everything is at stake, here, but for really real this time. The wolf is at the door. The Barbarians are clamoring at the gates. The dark theater is afire.
Pick your metaphor, examine it, and then, if you must, proceed apace and vote for Trump. Raise your hand and vote him and his handlers right on in to the Oval Office. Hand him the keys, and the fancy robe and slippers, and his very own military to command.
Cast our collective political fortunes in with the bastard, shrug your shoulders and let the cards of fortune fall where they will. But please. Before you do so, stand up and make yourselves known to your friends and family and, most of all, to your children.
And if our electoral college, goaded on by this Coalition of the Somewhat Willing, votes in an ill-tempered huckster this fall, and if the consequences of doing so turn out to be as dire and devastating as history suggests they might, I’ll be here to remind you: I didn’t choose this. You did. Freely.
Your platform, your conflicted heart, your moral reservations, will be categorically fucking irrelevant when history holds you to account for what you’ve wrought. Those useless compunctions will be little more than thin, shredded flags flapping, unnoticed, in a foul and ruinous wind.
Behold the possible future you are contemplating. Then, stand up and make yourselves known. Prepare your victory speech, your effigy, your eulogy.
You may soon need all three.