I’m going to do something I said I wasn’t going to do and discuss politics on this blog. Well, not politics per se, but the presidential election, simple because I feel there is more here than just traditional politics as usual – that is, the usual differences of opinions about what is the right way to govern that are at the heart of our democracy. It’s November 1st. The election is just a week away and I can’t remain silent on this blog any longer.
I grew up in a politically-active family. My father considered himself a patriot. He was an elected official and a staunch Republican. He had a picture of Richard Nixon hanging on his wall until the day he died. His father-in-law never understood why he didn’t support Kennedy. Didn’t all the Irish-Catholics support Kennedy? Was there anything more you needed to know about Kennedy? But my dad had his convictions of what was right and I always respected him for that. He had me agreeing with him until my 20s, when I began to find my own way. When my dad and I began to disagreed on issues we still respected one another for the fact that we cared. To him apathy was a far greater flaw. We were able to engage in healthy debates.
If my father was still alive today, I’d like to think he would finally feel the need to break with the Republican Party. If he didn’t, he would be on the receiving end of MY “I’m so disappointed in you lecture.” Disappointing my dad was, for me, the greatest sin of all. My father could be mad at me – screaming and yelling even – for a whole host of wrong doings, but nothing hit me harder than the simple statement, “I’m so disappointed in you.” That would break my heart. My dad meant the world to me and did so much for me that I just didn’t feel he ever deserved to be disappointed. Now as a parent myself, I have come to understand that parents don’t want to disappoint their children either. This year, if he chose to support the Republican nominee for President, I would be immensely disappointed in him – as I am in all of my friends that express support for that man.
If this was simply about being on different sides of an issue, I could understand why Hillary Clinton may not get your vote. I can appreciate and respect that we have different viewpoints and come at the issues from varying perspectives. This election however is not about the issues – it’s about honoring the values we share as Americans. We are a nation of immigrants that have been fighting for equality for religions, ethnicities, races, and genders throughout our 240-year history. The GOP’s nominee began his campaign saying, “[Mexico is] sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems [to] us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
That was just the beginning. The New York Times has a list: 279 People, Places and Things [the Republican Nominee] has insulted on Twitter. I ask you, is this what we want from a President? I got reprimanded in a FaceBook mom’s group for calling those supporting him “crazies.” My response was that we should be teaching our children that the hate, racism, sexism and xenophobia exhibited by the Republican nominee and many of his supporters is “crazy” and that we, as Americans – frankly just as decent human beings – are better than that.
Don’t hit people.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt people.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
– Robert Fulgham, All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten
I was told that not all of his supports are racist (although I never called them anything more than “crazy”), like all Muslims weren’t terrorists, Mexicans weren’t all rapists, and the Irish (I guess this was supposed to resonate with me?) weren’t all drunks. Of course they aren’t, but when you support a candidate for President that spews so much hatred, you have to ask yourself, “Were there good Nazis?” Is it not our duty to stand up for what is fundamentally wrong? By speaking up, I am honoring my values around respect and fundamental human decency. And maybe more importantly, being a person that my daughter can look at with pride.
As I said, I was initially going to keep politics out of this blog. The tipping point was the Access Hollywood tape. If any good comes from his candidacy it’s that it opened up a dialogue; gave us – women – the opportunity to have a conversation with our daughters, our partners, and even our fathers about our experience as women. This is where I know I would have finally been persuasive. My father treated women with respect. My mother was an equal partner in their business and their life since the 1940s. My father encouraged me in sports, in school, and in business to be the best that I could be and never allowed me to even think for a moment I was inferior to a boy. Maybe that’s why I did so well deflecting the snide remarks, criticism, and harassment from males at school, on the street, in the workplace, and in my own marriage.
Maybe I can even dream and think that maybe, just maybe, my father would share my excitement for a Woman President. No, Hillary Clinton is not perfect. No President has ever been. I think it’s interesting how someone with her resume could be considered by anyone as less than an ideal candidate. She is not “the lesser of two evils.” She is smart, strong, and immensely qualified.
Philadelphia, PA. October, 2016. Student Union at La Salle University, where as a college student I sat behind a table with a banner for “Students for Reagan-Bush ’84.” Change is good.