So, for those of you who have been living under a rock/hiding from social media for the last year or so, today is the day of the presidential election in the United States. I’ve been refraining from posting anything political because I didn’t really want to open myself up to that sort of drama, but the truth of the matter is the longer I hold in my thoughts the more explosive my temper has become. So, here I go, attempting to clarify my thoughts on this historic day, before the results are in and the winners announced.
I have worked really hard my entire life to vote (when I do vote) using two sources of information:
- My conscience (and the little bit of intuition that drives it)
- My rationality and research.
I’m fortunate that, most of the time, those two things line up and allow me to vote with a relatively clear head and heart. Not always, but most of the time. And when they don’t, I generally defer to whichever impulse is stronger (and it’s almost always the latter).
Regardless of who or what you vote for, my respect for you doesn’t change, so long as you can clearly articulate why you made the choices you made. Acceptable answers (to me) include a range of rationales, like:
- I have examined the track record/professional experience of the opposing candidate and find it lacking.
- I have examined the track record/professional experience of my chosen candidate and find it acceptable (or better).
- I like the specific policies of candidate A better than candidate B.
- I prefer the general platforms of Party A as compared to Party B and would like to ensure Party A has a solid voice in moving forward.
- I have examined all the available evidence and find that evidence supporting candidate A is more reliable than the evidence supporting candidate B.
- I dislike the histories and positions of both candidate A and candidate B and will therefore vote candidate C.
I obviously CARE about who you vote for, but I will RESPECT your choice nonetheless, so long as your reasons can be clearly articulated.
Unacceptable answers (to me) include things I’ve heard quite a bit more often in this election:
- I always vote Party A, so even though I loathe its candidate I will vote for it anyway.
- My uncle says that candidate A took a crap in the middle of his lawn once, so I’m voting for candidate B.
- Both candidates are equally evil so I am staying home.
- I don’t care about anyone else in this election. Candidate A will work for my personal interests while ignoring everyone else’s, so I will vote for Candidate A.
- I am a single-issue voter, and Candidate A matches that single issue better than Candidate B.
And really, none of these things sum up my biggest frustration with this election: People who DON’T. DO. THE. RESEARCH. People who vote for a political party only because they always have voted that way. I gotta tell you, the number of both Democrats and Republicans who are intentionally voting cross party or for a third party impresses me to no end. Good job, guys!
All that being said, I chose to vote primarily Democrat this election, because I am indeed a liberal, and because in most of the races (including down ticket races), the democratic candidate/idea best matched my own philosophies and research.
BUT…If at the end of the day, my choices lose (which is highly likely in my state), I will accept it as gracefully as I can, because that’s how democracy should work. But I will also put out a call to all of you who call yourselves my friends:
- I expect you to FIGHT FOR MY RIGHTS if/when they try to overturn my right to remain married to my wife.
- I expect you to call out injustice when you see it, and to critically examine your positions before denigrating an entire group of people as “other.” (Hell…I expect that of you anyway. If you fail on this principle you lose my respect before you ever tell me how you vote.)
- I expect you to challenge those #Repealthe19th people by supporting the women in your life to make their own choices. Even if most people meant this as a joke, it’s not a funny one. It’s terrifying.
- I expect you to continue to vote, because it’s your civic duty, but to do so with eyes open and with evidence clearly examined.
And most of all, I expect you to continue to treat human beings like human beings. I expect you to stop acting as if all political beliefs are a simple matter of common sense, because depending on your personal experiences, they definitely are not. People are complex. Issues are complex. Stay the hell away from sound bite politics. If you don’t know enough about an issue, don’t engage it until you do. It’s okay to admit ignorance. It’s okay to compromise. It’s okay to want to reach out to one another in respect and warmth and love.
And, if my own choices do manage to win, both in-state and nationally:
THANK. FREAKING. GOD.