I know this post probably won’t affect the election. It may not even swing a single vote. But I have a lot of young, liberal friends who strongly dislike Trump and are genuinely curious why I voted for him. My first reaction was to explain myself, but after writing this out and thinking a lot about what the country will look like after tomorrow, I realized all I really hope to do here is disarm some of the hostility that’s come to define this election.
Because yes, to a lot of you, I voted for someone inconceivably despicable and that seems unforgivable. But I’m still a human being, and if you take away anything from this post, understand that I went into my voting booth feeling like there was no candidate on the ballot whose character I approved of, whose record I was impressed by, or whose policy positions I mostly agreed with. I felt doomed to settle for someone and I just happened to settle on Trump.
So no matter who you support, be civil and remember that every adult in this country has the right to vote. No matter how much or to what degree we disagree, our democracy doesn’t work if we don’t respect each other’s right to participate. That’s why if you already voted or are planning to vote for Clinton, you’re fine in my book. I’m sure you have your reasons. If you’re still curious, here are mine.
Reason #1: Bernie Sanders was right that this country needs a political revolution but I don’t think that can happen without campaign finance reform, and Hillary Clinton can’t be trusted to make that happen.
Everyone knows our democracy has been hijacked by millionaires and billionaires who fund campaigns and enrich politicians. All the important challenges of our time — from climate change to gun safety, from Wall Street reform to defense spending — cannot be solved without first ensuring our lawmakers are beholden to the people alone. Otherwise our government will continue with business as usual and the concerns of ordinary American citizens will continue to take a back seat to wealthy and powerful interests.
According to a new Harvard study (press release), business as usual is no longer something our economy can tolerate. Their “State of U.S. Competitiveness” report offers a few suggestions we could take to turn things around: simplify the corporate tax code with lower statutory rates and less loopholes; move to a territorial tax system like all other leading nations; ease the immigration of highly skilled individuals; aggressively address distortions and abuses in the international trading system; improve logistics, communications, and energy infrastructure; simplify and streamline regulation; create a sustainable federal budget, including reform of entitlements; and responsibly develop America’s unconventional energy advantage. Half of these things just happen to be important parts of Trump’s platform, and that’s just a bonus for me.
Because I understand Trump doesn’t believe in climate change. I know he’s come out against Dodd-Frank and wants to increase the military budget. I don’t think his tax plan makes any sense either, but none of that matters to me. Trump could be on the wrong side of every issue and none of it would matter — in the same way it didn’t matter that Obama was on the right side of so many issues — if we can’t first tackle campaign finance reform. That we live in an era of limitless, anonymous campaign contributions despite the disapproval of a super-majority of Americans is a testament to the kind of trouble we’re in. Worse, this fact depresses political engagement across the board and particularly among young voters, making the Sanders revolution nearly impossible.
So I think the salient question is, among the two major party presidential candidates, who do you think is more business as usual? I think the answer is pretty obvious. It’s the former Senator who took money from Wall Street instead of seriously tackling high-frequency trading. It’s the former Secretary of State who appointed dozens of donors to State Department advisory boards. It’s the presidential candidate who wants to follow both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, two presidents who haven’t touched campaign finance reform and happen to be backed by companies like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Time Warner.
In other words, I can’t help but to vote against her. I would much prefer to elect a one-man show and like it or not, like Brexit before it, right now voting for Trump is the best way to tell Congress that business as usual isn’t going to cut it anymore. In my view, a Trump presidency will send “a clear message to a sick political elite and useless bureaucracy… that the working people have had enough.”
Besides, Clinton has been in the business long enough to out-raise anyone so it doesn’t make any sense for her to push for publicly funded elections. On the other hand, Trump hates SuperPACs for a good reason — because he is so controversial, he has the least to gain from them and the most to lose. It makes sense that he has every incentive to change the system if he hopes to get reelected. If but nothing else, I can more easily imagine him burning his connections to the President of Citizens United, much like he’s burned his friends before, than I can imagine Clinton shooting herself in the foot.
That’s why it matters that Trump ran his primary campaign without any real major funding from corporate backers. It sent a signal to everyone that he could not be bought, and if he’s going to be President, it will be on his terms. Obviously neither candidate is beholden to the people alone but this is why I think Trump comes a lot closer to this benchmark than does his opponent.
Reason #2: I genuinely worry about the persecution of LGBTQ citizens but I don’t believe Trump is the gun-toting, bible-hugging conservative he pretends to be so I’m not that worried about it.
Trump calls himself Presbyterian but he doesn’t ask for forgiveness and “does not bring God into the picture” when he makes mistakes. He has tried to put money in the Communion plate. His favorite book of the Bible? Two Corinthians. “I think people are shocked when they find out that I am Christian, that I am a religious person,” Trump wrote in “Great Again,” a book published during the presidential campaign.
Well, I think there’s a simple explanation for that — it’s very likely that he isn’t religious at all. That’s probably why most folks are hard-pressed to remember a time when Trump has touted his religious beliefs before ever running for office.
I suspect he’s just pandering to his base. Otherwise, if this wasn’t something his campaign worried about, I don’t think he would’ve selected someone like Mike Pence to be his VP candidate. In my opinion, Pence is on the ticket to retain the support of conservative Republicans.
The most likely reason Trump hasn’t ever clarified his positions on things like federal funding for stem cell research is because he doesn’t involve religion in his decision-making process. As a non-believer, I appreciate him being different from George W. Bush in that way — I don’t want a President who will block federal funding for stem cell research on religious grounds, for example.
It’s for this reason that I’m not particularly worried for my LGBTQ friends: if Trump wants to leave it to the states to decide things like same-sex marriage, that also means he doesn’t want to enact any federal legislation opposing same-sex marriage, and that’s sort of unprecedented for a modern Republican candidate. Remember, he’s a Republican candidate after all — of course he can’t openly oppose the very religious voters he needs to win over.
Reason #3: Hillary Clinton — not Donald Trump — is a war hawk, needlessly provoking a war with Russia because of a personal feud with Vladimir Putin. Russia, you must know, has more nuclear warheads than any country in the world and is actively creating a coalition with China, North Korea, and the Philippines to oppose the United States.
Simply put, Hillary Clinton is an interventionist in the same vein as George W. Bush. She has supported and continues to support wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and against ISIS and Al Qaeda everywhere on the planet. If she had her way, we would be at war with Syria too.
None of these countries or rebel groups we support respect our version of democracy though. And our presence in this part of the world has aggravated rather than diminished chaos. For example, once Gaddafi was removed from Libya, it was seized upon by dozens of tribal, sectarian, and ethnic militias and competing governments. And Yemen is the very definition of hell.
That’s why I think we should adopt a foreign policy similar to those proposed by Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders, but unfortunately Clinton and Trump are all I have to choose from. At least Trump offers a refreshing change of pace for relations with Russia.
Meanwhile Hillary Clinton has a long, storied history with Vladimir Putin and it’s no secret they don’t like or trust each other. I recommend reading about their relationship in detail because it helps explain why she advised President Obama to snub Putin and avoid working with him altogether after she left the State Department.
You may also remember that as Secretary of State, she helped orchestrate regime change in Ukraine before promoting a provision of military aid to the new government to fight Russia. She also supported our expanded military presence in the Baltic States and Poland specifically to combat Russia’s sphere of influence in the region.
Now she supports a no-fly zone in Syria, which would almost certainly lead to conflict with Russia. And it doesn’t even make sense. Al Qaida doesn’t have any aircraft, so the only planes we could possibly shoot down would either be Syrian or Russian. It’s plainly a policy designed to escalate tensions and eventually justify all-out war.
Let’s not be forgetful here either: George W. Bush sold the War on Terror as quick and cheap and it ended up being long and costly. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost U.S. taxpayers nearly $5 trillion so far, and that total could rise even higher in the years to come. We simply can’t afford another major war.
Also, consider the coalition that Russia is building: we have a massive trade deficit with China. They are the world’s number one country for manufacturing for a few good reasons and we’ve grown accustomed to exploiting their labor for decades. At this point we depend on them just as much as they depend on us.
Just take a look at the Top 10 List of Chinese Exports and ask yourself whether a war with Russia is worth upsetting the balance between our two countries, especially when the most likely result would almost certainly be mutually assured destruction.
Hillary Clinton often says Donald Trump can’t be trusted with the nuclear codes — and maybe she’s right — but I wouldn’t trust her with so much as a slingshot.
Reason #4: Stop and frisk, the Muslim ban, and making Mexico pay for a wall — I support none of it and take great comfort in knowing it could never happen.
Trump is almost certainly a racist and rightfully deserves heaps of ridicule. This is probably his ugliest character trait and I think it reflects negatively on all his supporters when they try to outright deny or make excuses for his racist remarks. That’s partly why I agree with Hillary Clinton that many of his supporters are truly deplorable and irredeemable.
Plus, no one wants these things so I doubt very much that he could convince Congress to pass any sort of racist legislation. If he even tried, he’d probably fail, and his failure would only serve to strengthen the public resolve against prejudice while simultaneously ensuring he remains a one-term President.
Reason #5: In 2008-09, Barack Obama was widely viewed as a unique, transformational candidate, the kind that only surfaces once a generation. But he probably would’ve lost his primary campaign to Hillary Clinton if Americans weren’t so desperate for change. He matched the moment created by George W. Bush, and I think Donald Trump would likely create a similar moment in 2020.
I can comfortably say that I will miss having Barack Obama as my President. I will miss his sincerity, humor, charisma, gentleness, and even his athleticism. I have always admired his ability to stay calm and collected, and to take the high road when he’s been treated unfairly. I hope future Presidents are as candid and intelligent as he has been these past eight years. I honestly believe he’s been a great role model for the children of this country who have only ever known him as President.
A great role model, yes, but not a particularly effective President.
Obama was elected in 2008 with a mandate for change but he squandered his political capital on a drawn out battle over health care reform, only to eventually rush a bill through Congress without bi-partisan support. He was ambitious when he should’ve been gracious, and Republicans made him pay for it by obstructing his agenda at every turn for the duration of his presidency.
Once Scott Brown filled the seat held by Ted Kennedy, and the 2010 midterm elections gave Republicans a majority in the House of Representatives, Obama was officially neutered. His mandate had become undone because he was a young and inexperienced politician, plain and simple.
Since then, he’s disappointed me so many times.
After promising a new kind of politics, his leadership style hasn’t inspired many folks to work with him. After promising immigration reform, he’s deported more undocumented immigrants than any other president in history. After promising Wall Street reform, he’s done nothing to regulate or punish the big banks. After promising education reform, we got Common Core and corporate privatizers. After promising transparency and criticizing George W. Bush for creating the surveillance state, his administration denied a record 77% of FOIA requests and stepped up the NSA’s surveillance programs.
I remember being so proud to be an American during his inauguration, feeling like we’d finally come together for the first time since 9/11. But since then, under his leadership — fairly or unfairly — we have yet to come together again. It’s hard not to blame him for that.
My point here is that I voted for Obama in 2008 thinking he would be the Bobby Kennedy of my generation, and I was wrong. He wound up being a half-measure, and I don’t want to settle for half-measures like him and Hillary Clinton anymore.
Of course Donald Trump is nothing like Bobby Kennedy, but I believe his presidency would once again make Americans desperate for new leadership. I think he would set the stage for a truly progressive candidate with an untouchable mandate. That’s why in the end, I think the worse he would be as President, the better it would be for the country overall.
Think about it: if Bush gave us Obama, imagine who Trump could give us next.
And if that doesn’t convince you, consider the alternative: just like Trump, Clinton is almost certainly doomed to be a one-term President. Would you rather she lose to Trump tomorrow or someone like Ted Cruz or Mike Pence in 2020?
Reason #6: Trump will have to work with a Congress that can impeach him.
I consider this the last safeguard against a Trump takeover. For all the talk about Trump being a dictator, it’s important to remember that anyone in Congress can call upon the Judiciary Committee to draw up Articles of Impeachment at the first sign of impropriety. At this point, it’s hard to imagine a situation where a majority of establishment Democrats and Republicans don’t come together to eject Trump from office.
Trump is so universally hated in D.C. that he would have to be on his best behavior to stay in power. His only bargaining chip would be the size of his party in Congress, so Republican leaders like Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy would probably ultimately prove more powerful than Trump even if we were to win.
Reason #7: If I weren’t in a swing state, I would probably vote for Gary Johnson. If he receives 5% of the popular vote, the Libertarian Party will automatically be placed on the ballot in all 50 states and their candidate will qualify for public financing in future elections — but I live in a swing state and I want my vote to matter.
That actually pretty much sums it up.
About me: I’m 29 years old, white, and non-religious. I’m an electrical engineer with an apartment in Florida and a ton of student loan debt. I’m socially liberal and fiscally conservative, which means I’m pro-choice and support gun control but I don’t support things like free college or free healthcare for everybody. I support a progressive tax code, reduced military spending, and stronger Wall Street regulations. I believe in man-made climate change because science is a thing and I’m not an idiot. Campaign finance reform, reducing our national debt, and stabilizing the geopolitical climate are the most important issues to me.