My college years began with the assassination of John Kennedy in 1963. In 1968, the year after I graduated, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were assassinated. The world felt threatening and unstable. A lot like now.
I was a political science major at Cornell with a focus on Southeast Asia and China. The mid 1960s were the definition of nasty for China and Vietnam. (I had to use the nasty word.) I also learned the word atrocity.
Hillary Clinton entered college two years later and also majored in political science. Along with many Midwestern girls, our college years exposed us to new views and transformed our beliefs. I focused on anti-Vietnam War work. Clinton focused on social justice.
I loved politics then and still do, but during this election, I’ve been quiet. I’ve also been upset.
Rather than watch live debates and news, I usually read articles the next morning and chose which videos to watch. I began this practice in 2012 when my hearing worsened. Because stress aggravates Meniere’s Disease symptoms of vertigo and deafness, I couldn’t make political phone calls, knock on doors, or attend rallies as I’ve done in the past. I donated money and talked with friends in battleground states. I kept one step removed while I fretted.
Recently, I’ve questioned my silence. On top of an obvious disrespect for democracy, Trump went over the line by excusing sexual abuse, showing disdain for checks and balances, insulting everyone who’s not white or male, calling Clinton a “nasty woman,” and threatening all of us with armed violence if he loses. It’s time to speak up.
I watched the first Democratic presidential debate live, because it promised to be interviews about issues rather than a sparring match. It solidified my comfort with either of the major Democratic candidates. I loved Sander’s policy focus, but felt Clinton was the most highly qualified and trained.
I’ve watched Hillary Clinton for many years as most of us have. I don’t agree with all her choices, but during this election she’s shown power and poise under fire. She can deal with an aggressive antagonist who reminds me of the Russian dictator Khrushchev who yelled and banged his fist and shoe on the table at a UN meeting in 1960. Like the image of Trump hovering behind Clinton at the second debate, it’s an image I won’t forget.
I know Clinton isn’t perfect, but I don’t know any candidate or human being who is. I know she’s experienced and tested. I resonate with her message.
I look forward to voting for Hillary Clinton. I’m grateful for Bernie Sander’s contribution and trust his influence will continue in a Clinton administration. I remind myself that a presidential election is about more than one office. It’s about appointments for Supreme Court and other federal judges, departmental secretaries, and much more. Clinton will choose qualified people.
I’m grateful to Trump, too, although I choke on those words. He exposed the dark underbelly of politics and many patriarchal institutions. He made us face the anger of the disenfranchised and neglected. He shook us hard and woke us up.
I pray we’ll stay awake. Our country has much healing to do.
Has this election left you unsettled and upset? Has sharing your views exposed you to hostile responses? My blog focuses on grieving and healing, family and the inner life, but I’ve also shared articles about protesting the Vietnam War and protecting the environment. Thanks to Jill Swenson for encouraging me to speak up.