I’ve been having a really effing difficult time with this election cycle, as have many people. I’m a political junkie. I sometimes pay too much attention to it. I have to reign myself in to not talk about it. I don’t want to be that guy. I even get hooked into a Facebook debate now and then. A f**king Facebook debate. There’s nothing worse. There is no bigger waste of time on this planet than going up against other people’s ‘internet personality’. This election is different, though. I mean… there have always been douchebags and liars running for office, but no one has really ever embraced it like this before. When people were liars and douchebags in previous elections, they at least made an attempt to hide it. And usually there was someone left standing that at least seemed to have some moral fiber and conviction on issues. Perhaps I’m referring to the ‘good old days’ that some on the right yearn for, but I don’t think so. I’m thinking of just a few years back, before Donald Trump entered the political arena.
John Kasich (I miss that guy… you remember him, the sensible choice) was just being interviewed about (Surprise!) Donald Trump, and as with every Republican, he was asked if he would be endorsing The Donald. His answer was the best answer I’ve heard. He said that his kids have been paying a lot of attention to this election. They’ve seen what we’ve all seen.
He said, “If I were to turn around today and endorse him, they’d be like, ‘Why, Dad?’ And that matters to me.”
My kids have paid a ton of attention to this election as well. So have their friends. I hear their comments. They’re often funny, but sometimes a bit frightening. One of my daughter’s 8-year-old Mexican-American friends made the comment, “If Trump gets elected, we’re scared. We may have to move to another country.” She wasn’t saying that because they wanted to move to another country, but because Trump is making discriminatory remarks and actions acceptable, and they’re concerned about those things continuing to elevate. They’re scared for their safety, and with good reason now. And if we were to elect a President Trump, those discriminatory remarks and actions would become validated through the election process.
There are a lot of people out there that I genuinely cherish and respect that have made it known that they support Trump. And I get it. He’s a big middle finger to the whole rigged system. Amen. I completely agree with that. He appears to have, for the most part, good business sense. I get that too. Very little is more hotly debated between the two parties than the budget. Also, he’s not owned by anyone. One of my biggest personal disdains of politicians is how so many of them are completely owned by special interest groups. I think this is the biggest middle finger of all, and I love that.
There’s a second group out there that is less rabid than the first, but ultimately has the most control on the right… that’s the group that, before a few weeks ago, KNEW that he was the absolute wrong guy, yet has now decided to rally behind him. The most common excuse for this particular group is the Supreme Court. “This President will likely be nominating a few justices, and we know what kind of people Hillary will nominate.”
Okay, I get it. I’m guessing that if that’s your reasoning, you and I are probably not completely aligned on social issues. But I get it. If the tables were turned between parties, the other guys would be thinking the same thing. Bernie has actually already caused that discussion to begin.
So, let me tell you where Donald Trump lost me. I hadn’t taken him seriously since he went front and center to fan the flame of the ‘birther’ movement. This was a blatantly racist move. We don’t need more racial unrest in this country. Regardless of which other people you might blame for fanning that flame for the last 8 years, you cannot say that he hasn’t played a massive role. His entire campaign has gained a large portion of its media coverage through inflammatory racial remarks. He used that media coverage to tap into a darker side of our American history, and unfortunately, it resonated far more than many of us hoped it would. It began with the birther movement, moved toward Mexicans being rapists, took a turn toward banning Muslims, and even sideswiped Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio with some birther nostalgia. I guess you could say he lost me long ago, back when the ugliness of the birther movement was on full display. But I wasn’t really completely floored by him then.
The thing that completely floored me, and where he really really lost me, was with his remark about prisoners of war not being real heroes. Because they were captured, they were essentially losers, not heroes. That was the deal-killer for me. I remember first seeing that, and being thoroughly dumbfounded that someone would ever say that. I was disgusted. My grandfathers, father, uncles, cousins, friends… they had all served in the military. My kids saw this on the news countless times in the days following. That matters to me. Just like Kasich said. It matters. The military gets respect. End of story. This was absolute bullshit. Surely, I surmised, this would be the downfall of Trump. I knew then that there was no way that our country would rally behind this man. It would be a slap in the face to our armed forces.
I was wrong, though. And it baffled me. It still baffles me. He never slowed down after that. He knows that he’ll get media coverage when he makes inflammatory remarks, and so he continues to make them. His support continues to grow.
For the reasons I listed earlier, the middle finger to the system, the business sense, not being owned, the Supreme Court… he continues to grow in power. And for reasons I cannot comprehend, with all of us and all of our children watching… the blatantly racist and discriminatory remarks, the mean and ugly level at which Trump plays his insult game, the obvious switching sides on pretty much every single issue (often in the same day)… it just doesn’t matter. That’s a really damn sad statement about the nation we might be becoming, or perhaps already are. None of those things that would completely destroy any other public figure matter at all. But they should matter. This is not a f**king reality show where you have to keep the ratings up. This is the country my children will be growing up in. It matters. And it’s all being mocked and destroyed for a guy who knows how to get ratings. These things matter.
And I know what half of you are thinking right now, because that’s how our two-party system has trained you: “There’s no f**king way I’m voting for Hillary.” I’m not saying to vote for Hillary. I’m not voting for Hillary. But I’m sure as shit not voting for Trump. Hillary doesn’t sit well with me either. I’ll probably vote Libertarian. But I refuse to validate, in front of my children, all of the awful, hateful, racially-charged, ugly, insulting things that Donald Trump has said and done to nearly everyone he’s come in contact with. It matters. It’s not okay for my kids to think the way he speaks and carries himself is acceptable. It’s that simple. I’ll vote for someone with character, whose views are most aligned with mine. And my nominee will most likely lose. But that’s my middle finger. Actually, I’ll be using both middle fingers. One will be aimed at the broken election system, and one will be aimed at the candidate that would validate hate. I’m still hopeful that many of these Trump supporters that have character and integrity will realize they have a second middle finger as well.
Aren’t we always told that character and integrity matter? Aren’t we always told not to insult people? Aren’t we told that our true test of who we are is whether or not we do the right thing when it matters? My father said many times growing up that there aren’t different levels to things like character and integrity. You either have them, or you don’t. It is my opinion that we are on the cusp of electing a man who has neither character nor integrity. But we still have a chance to redeem ourselves in the eyes of our children by not validating him. It’s more important than losing an election. The world will not end. It won’t happen. Under each President, the opposing side is quick to let us know that if the other party wins, it will be the end of everything we hold dear. Stop buying into the bullshit. It’s never happened. It won’t happen this time. We’re going to be okay. Vote for whoever the hell you want, but don’t validate someone awful because you’re afraid that if you don’t, someone more awful will win. Vote for someone with values. Vote for someone with character and integrity. Show your kids that having these things matters more than winning. They do. That’s what we’ve always told them. Let’s stand by it. Let’s show them it matters.
Reach down, at the end of your arm, and find that other middle finger.