The 2016 Election

November 08, 2016-

After a furious eighteen months of devout election following, my nerves were on edge. In anticipation of the upcoming results, I decided to invite a few friends over for wine and board games. I knew that if it were to be just Aaron and myself, I would be obsessively going from various election result websites while sitting in the dark. Not exactly the best way to celebrate a historic night. The Democratic and Republican Primaries were an incredibly stressful time for me, which seems futile but I couldn’t help but take it very personally. I championed a candidate that I truly believed could offer the kind of hope and reform that I thought this country desperately needed. The Republicans were in disarray, and a con-man was having his way with them. I rejoiced in this aspect, and I couldn’t help but think that Bernie Sanders had an honest shot at non only taking the Democratic Nomination, but also the Presidency. The choice was always clear for me. Hillary Clinton, represented the establishment. The very source of my political angst. It was in these months of the Democratic Primary that I declared “Bernie or Bust”, and never doubted his momentum. After all, everyone around me seemed to be championing the same thing. My Facebook was filled with like-minded friends who fueled my support. Sanders path to victory seemed possible. Would we actually be able to nominate a reform candidate to a major political party? A man who called out the flaws of our government, and laid out the plan for a world of inclusion and possibility? We hoped.

My support for him showed in my wallet, as I began to contribute small amounts on pay-day. I was in it to win it. On the eve of the Utah Democratic Primary he held a large rally in Salt Lake City. It was beyond encouraging to see so many people out supporting a man who I believed to be the best political candidate of our generation. Primary day in Utah came, and Bernie won in a land-slide. The momentum was on our side, and I couldn’t fathom a Hillary Clinton win. Soon after the Utah Primary, it became clear that Hillary Clinton was still on chart to capture the nomination. The day CNN announced that she had secured the nomination, was a gut wrenching moment. How? How did others not look past her incredible flaws? How could they stand by the establishment, when it was so clear that corruption was running deep? Yes, we were sick of the e-mails, but the fact that we even had to discuss it was proof enough to do away with her as a potential candidate. She didn’t represent me, and it seemed as if she didn’t represent the party as a whole. I was baffled, concerned, and disheartened. How could I ever support Hillary Clinton? The next couple of months were a challenging time for Bernie supporters. We watched as Donald Trump secured his party nomination (another moment of “how?”) and we watched a contentious Democratic Party nominate Hillary Clinton at their convention. We watched an emotional Bernie Sanders go all in for the candidate he had battled with for so long. There was however light within this tunnel. The Democratic Party put forth one of the most progressive party platforms ever. Bernie Sanders influence on the party was evident. Still, the battle to support Hillary Clinton raged in my head. While my political ideologies lined up with the Democratic Party, I didn’t trust the nominee. Her mountain of scandal and uncertainty put up red flags at every corner. She refused to release her Goldman Sachs speeches, she was under federal investigation for her private e-mail server, she refused to take a stand on TPP, and she was seemingly failing to bring her party together. How could she win if she couldn’t win over her own party? My support at this time crossed over to the Green Party. Living in Utah it was clear that despite the problems of the Republican Party, that Donald Trump would win the Republican nomination. A morality vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party seemed like the appropriate path. Jill for me was the solution to my apprehension of the current Democratic Party. I could vote for Jill Stein, Utah would go Trump, and Clinton would win the General Election. That was the path. Then something happened, and it had been happening for a while, but it erupted this time.

Donald Trump had become the Republican Nominee and everyone scoffed. His rhetoric and demeanor were unthinkable for a candidate for President. Yet, his support was growing. His rallies became increasingly larger, and more energetic. I couldn’t believe that people were actually supporting him. A man who continued to spew hateful and harming rhetoric, and allowing the bigotry of our country to seep out, was polling closer and closer to Hillary Clinton. With every flaw that Clinton had, I could point out ten flaws of Donald Trump. It was clear that he could not, and should not become President. This man represented everything America should not stand for. This is the moment I understood why Bernie had gone full in for Hillary Clinton. Why did I ever question him? I realized that he was supporting the progressive party platform that he and millions of other Americans had fought for. Still, I lived in a State that seemed to be polling towards Trump. My vote for Hillary Clinton was still not going to make much of a difference. Then it happened, Utah started polling closer. Evan McMullin had jumped in the race, and things looked tight. My morality vote option faded for me, because I knew that it was of up most importance to keep Donald Trump out of the White House. Despite my burning questions for the honest and truthful story behind Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump could not become President. Period. He couldn’t. With his continued rhetoric and his support of archaic immigration and foreign policy issues (to name only a few), he became dangerous.

The butt of late night jokes had the potential to become our President. If that happened, he would bring to the stage a Republican platform that would undo the important changes that Barack Obama had worked so hard to accomplish. Most importantly for me (and the most personal )was the thought of equality in this country regressing. I couldn’t allow that to happen. I didn’t want to be a part of that happening. My morality vote for Jill Stein at this point became less important to me. I applaud those who voted Third Party, because it was what our country is about. I however didn’t want to make that morality vote, and have Utah be decided by a few hundred votes. After eighteen months, and with reservations still in my mind, I voted for Hillary Clinton. She was the logical choice. The better person to do the job. While I remained furious at the revealed leaks of the DNC collaboration to win the nomination, and the pro-Wall Street Goldman Sachs letters, I still saw some hope with her candidacy. Under a Clinton administration, we would continue the status quo. A third term of Obama in its essence. We would remain on a steady course, with a fairly predictable outcome. Within this time, it would have allowed our country to search out a proper reform candidate. While we wouldn’t make much progress, we wouldn’t regress. I saw opportunity and hope at the end of the line. I voted for Hillary Clinton, because I thought it gave America the best chance. It gave America the best chance to reach full equality for all, and to soon reform our government in a way that would work for all that call America home.

Trump was running as the only reform candidate left in the race. A system of reform that in some ways looked like the reform championed by Bernie Sanders. It however wasn’t even close to being the same. His reform comes with lesser rights for minorities, and at the cost of bringing bigotry and racism back into the mainstream. While his ideas for handling international business and bringing jobs back to America are not the worst ideas in the world, it comes at a cost. America has always been the beacon for freedom and inclusion, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretch refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”  The Statue of Liberty, the icon of America has this engraved on her for a reason. Despite all the troubles in the world, America is supposed to remain open and inclusive. That is the principle on which our country was founded. Trumps America is not the America we know and love. Under a Trump Presidency we will see the chance to bring true reform and change to America die a very early death. He will stop and pause any social progression, and ultimately make America only safe for the ultra-rich and non-minority.

On the night of the election our little home was filled with close friends, who wanted to watch the election results come in. This group included; strong women, gay men, teachers, artists, millennials, office workers, students, activists, etc., etc. , and most importantly Americans who have at one time in their life witnessed inequality first hand. I was so excited to have a night of wine drinking, and board games. It was going to be a time to champion a Clinton victory, and root for a strong democratic showing for the senate. The polls and experts had the race pretty much called. Then it happened. Another gut wrenching moment. Clinton started to show weak results in Florida. Soon North Carolina was going downhill. It was still going to be okay. It was going to be close, we already knew that. Then Michigan started to go, along with Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Soon the Republicans secured the House and Senate. What was happening? I couldn’t control my emotions as I watched the impossible happening. In a matter of an hour, I watched a room of cheerful strong individuals begin to fear. This is America in the year 2016, and a man who would regress social progress by up to twenty years was leading the race. I cried. I couldn’t help it. I saw my future rights slipping away. My rights as a human being, were being stepped on. Americans around this country were making a choice that would limit the freedoms of their neighbors. I was angry. In an instant, a room of individuals with rights at stake had the rug ripped out from underneath them. He couldn’t win. He couldn’t.

On November 8, 2016 America made a mistake and elected Donald Trump as the next President of the United States. I am thankful I live in a country that I have the right to speak these words. Trump represents so many un-American ideals, that it is sometimes hard to fathom. His candidacy and now Presidency is a joke, and has been from the very beginning. Perhaps his economic plans will work, but if they come at the result in the loss of human rights it is the biggest mistake America has ever made. I do not think that those who voted for Donald Trump are bad people, I simply believe they were conned by the greatest sales man of all time. A man who preyed on their fears, and used them to fulfill personal gain. I simply cannot and will not support a President who has insulted my friends, family, neighbors, and fellow Americans. Donald J. Trump may be the 45th President, but in my heart he will not be my President. You should be able to look up to your leaders, and I can’t help but feel ashamed of Donald Trump. To sit down and support him goes against everything our country stands for.

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”-Albus Dumbledore