The Ugly Election

 

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Drawing by my son, Aidan… It’s his dream and mine too…

 

A question has been haunting me this election season: If Donald Trump wins the presidency (I just bit my tongue), how can I possibly explain to my kids that America, their country—the land of the free and the home of the brave—thinks it’s okay to bully, mock and basically step upon anyone with whom you do not agree? Because really, that’s what Donald Trump’s nomination and recent rise in the polls says. It says that you can succeed by stepping on others. It says that hate is more important than love and fear is more important than tolerance. This isn’t the world I want for my children. I can’t be proud of this America.

My son told me that most, if not all, of the children in his school dislike Donald Trump. I believe this is because children are much better judges of character than many adults are. They don’t have that fear of “the other” that is so pervasive in Trump’s followers. As Hillary Clinton said, half of Trump’s supporters are people who are fed up with their situation in life and are looking for someone to fix it, but the other half are in that basket of deplorables—racists, xenophobes (which of course includes racists), misogynists, homophobes and on and on. Those in that basket are proud of the deplorable moniker. I’ve noticed lots of pro-Trump Twitter accounts have changed to user names which include “deplorable.” Of course, this essay is still a risk for me—I’m sure at least some of my followers are Trump supporters who do not wish to be called, “deplorable” (and are, in fact not deplorable), and I, of course, do not want to alienate anyone. But, there comes a time when speaking up in the face of unspeakable evil is more important than the amount of followers and likes I have. And it’s more important than worrying about offending anyone. It’s my job as a writer to speak my mind, to speak up for what I believe in. Which brings me to my next fear about a Trump presidency…

Donald Trump will shut down free press, like his hero, Vladimir Putin, has done in Russia. Trump has already banned several media outlets—The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Politico, to name a few—from his press conferences and campaign events, claiming that they treat him “unfairly.” (Here’s his “Blacklist.”) He eventually ended the ban earlier this month, in an attempt to seem not so “draconian” to voters rightfully offended by this dictatorial move, according to The Washington Post. But he has continued mocking and bullying journalists, especially on Twitter. His attack on New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd is especially chilling, calling her “wacky” and a “neurotic dope” in two separate tweets (see screen grabs below—I did not want to link to them to give more exposure). His verbal abuse of journalists stretches back to the early days of his campaign and his feud with Megyn Kelly. And who could forget Trump’s disgusting imitation of a disabled journalist, (tiny) hands flailing about, speech pattern hatefully mocked?

I may not have ever worked as a serious news journalist—I reported on music, the arts and philanthropy—but I did work as a journalist for a few different newspapers back in the nineties, and freedom of the press is a right I hold very dearly. By mocking journalists, constantly complaining that journalists treat him unfairly and calling them the “lowest form of humanity,” Trump guaranteed that at least some will bow before him, lobbing him softball questions and not calling him out on blatant lies. Of course much of the blame for this pro-Trump biased media coverage is laid at the feet of that very media for not doing their jobs. But with Trump “gaming the refs,” it was bound to happen. Even scarier, a reporter from Vice, Alex Thompson (who happens to be Maureen Dowd’s former researcher), was not only turned away, but also arrested, when he tried to obtain press credentials to a Trump campaign event in Houston. This stinks from more than just a whiff of dictatorship… Reporters being arrested is right out of an oligarch’s playbook… Trump must have learned it from his buddy Putin. (And yes, I know Trump’s camp said it was the hotel, not Trump, who called police, but who gave hotel security Thompson’s name?)

This essay doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all of the horrendous, unconscionable atrocities (and yes, I know that’s a bit redundant, but in this case, it fits the magnitude of the situation) Trump has committed through words and deed. All Hillary Clinton needs for her attack ads are Trump’s own words. Her brilliant ad asking if Trump is what we want for our daughters only needs to intersperse Trump’s viciousness with images of girls and young women. Watch it here. And then…there’s the  constant lying. I’m not sure why so many look the other way and think, “Oh that’s just Trump being Trump…,” and yet call Clinton a liar. Now though, Newsweek has dropped a bombshell that really should give all those supporters second thoughts about their savior—Trump has either committed perjury or lied during a primary debate. How can this person be our president?

I know my anxiety over this election is driving my husband crazy. I check poll forecasts with a frequency bordering on obsessive. I moan every time I see a Trump flag, sign or bumper sticker in my town, which is far too often in my estimation, especially in my very multi-cultural neighborhood. A huge Trump flag waving in the breeze seems like a giant middle finger to the many immigrants from different nations living around me, especially Muslims. I ponder moving to Canada and wonder how out-of-country college tuition compares to the out-of-state college tuition we are currently paying for my son. In reality, I know I can’t pick up my family and move, and I wouldn’t want to be so far away from my son (although I do love Canada and I do have family there). So, I’m left pondering what life would be like with a Trump presidency and quite frankly, it scares the crap out of me.

I know many people dislike and distrust Hillary Clinton. I’m not sure why, but I respect their opinions. I think a big part of it is all the conspiracy crap peddled by the alt-right. Do they forget that Karl Rove deleted 22 million emails when he was Secretary of State under George W. Bush? Do they not realize that there were thirteen attacks on foreign consulates during the Bush administration? Those chanting, “Lock her up!” would never have uttered a word back then. And what about all the good Hillary Clinton has done? She has worked tirelessly for women and children, for the poor and the disenfranchised. After 9/11, she was there for the people of New York, when not many in government were. As part of her health care plan, she wants to integrate mental health care benefits in with medical insurance. I can tell you, as the parent of a child with a mental illness, this is huge… And it seems like no one knows about it. It’s not talked about amidst all the noise about emails and the Clinton Foundation, which really should be a non-issue…

Even if Clinton wielded her influence to secure donations to the Clinton Foundation, which it hasn’t been proven she did, that money was used for all good. It has saved so many lives and champions the forgotten. It has a stellar rating from Charity Watch and nearly ninety percent of donations go right to people in need. That is extremely high. In contrast, donations to Trump’s foundation go to things like six foot tall paintings of himself and legal fees to fight the many lawsuits he’s been slapped with. Lawsuits, that for the most part, he’ll find a way to weasel out of – he has said as much to discourage people he has wronged from suing him. I know this is absolutely true.

I’ve heard of more than one person whom Trump stiffed to whom he replied, “Go ahead and sue me. You’ll never win.” It’s this habit of “sticking it to the little guy” that proves Trump is against working people. He cares only about himself…oh and Vladimir Putin. He thinks Putin is a better leader than Barack Obama, and likely would emulate him. Oh, and he’s $650 million in debt to many financial institutions, including the Bank of China and who knows what other foreign interests (as an aside, Trump is also in debt to Goldman Sachs, an institution he’s claimed owns Hillary Clinton). With debts to foreign banks and many investments in Russia, Trump would undoubtedly have a conflict of interest. Plus, a Trump presidency would be a disaster not just for our country, but for the world. Allowing Russia to run roughshod over other countries, dissolving NATO, starting World War Three over a tweet. Nuking a smaller country, because if someone looks at you the wrong way, you have to “bomb the hell out of them…”

Mostly though, a Donald Trump presidency would be a disaster for our youth. Civil discourse was already nearly extinct before the rise of Trump, thanks to keyboard cowboys and the vast cesspool of hate dwelling just beneath the surface of the Internet. Oh, I’m sorry—it’s not just beneath the surface anymore. It’s now bubbled right up to the top and white supremacists; neo-Nazis; misogynists of every stripe; the stupid and the hateful; bigots; xenophobes; and just your run of the mill assholes have been given free reign to release their vitriol in burning streams, like a blustery, rhetoric filled volcano blanketing and destroying everything in its path. This is the future that awaits our children – one in which kindness and compassion are old-fashioned currency, like the pennies left in bowls next to cash registers, too useless to even merit pocketing. I weep for this world, and I will vote blue right down the line…

 

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Notice the first reply (for both tweets) – “Deplorable Pepe”

 

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