So I watched the debate last night. Or at least, enough of it.
It was an embarrassment. A catastrophe.
It's not that Donald Trump will cause damage and ruin if elected, it's that he's already doing irreparable the damage.
The only thing that he and Hillary could agree on when it came to issues like gun control is that people on the no-fly list shouldn't be able to purchase guns. This is an absurd and dangerous suggestion. Likely unconstitutional. People can be put on the no-fly list without a trial, without any due process. This is tantamount to saying that the government can literally take away the guns of anyone it so chooses. And yet, it became a bit win for both him and Hillary to sit up there and agree that this is something we can do about the insane lack of reasonable measures to reduce gun violence.
If we had real candidates debating real issues, there might be some measure of accountability in the Hillary whitehouse -- a measure of accountability that those on the right ought to really want. Instead we got bullying and name-calling and straight up lies. Donald J. Trump is wasting our time and setting Hillary up to do pretty much whatever she wants with her executive power.
I agree (though I'm not entirely sure why) when people say we ought to vote for a candidate on her own merits, not merely against another. Or I at least agree with the spirit off it. If I felt like Hillary didn't represent anything at all that I stand for, I would not vote for her.
But I am going to vote for her. And here's why.
1. Because I'm Voting this Year In Solidarity with Those Who Can't
I have several friends who live in this country (and have for most of their lives), and yet cannot vote. Some of their family members are undocumented. In conversations with these friends I've heard them say that Hillary is the far superior choice for them and for their families. I have issues with Hillary, but I have to remember what a privilege it is to vote. I plan to vote in solidarity with those who cannot vote themselves.
2. Because Hillary's Vision of America is at Least Recognizable
Hillary wants to address income inequality. She wants to improve healthcare and working conditions. She's a talented politician (gross), with tons of experience in Washington (double gross). Even if I disagree with her regarding which policies will best accomplish these things -- we're at least having the same conversation.
3. Because Voting for a Candidate Gives You Standing to Hold Her Accountable
Sr. Simone Campbell (from Nuns on the Bus and NETWORK Lobby) visited Notre Dame the other day. She is a hero of mine, and I was given the honor of escorting her around campus almost all day. We had several conversations -- about local politics, national politics, politics and the Church -- and one thing she said that really stuck out to me is this: In a democracy, you vote for the viable candidate that best represents you and then you hold her accountable. (This is presuming, of course, that there is such a candidate...not a live issue for me...though I can see how this issue could be live for some.) Politicians pander. It's what they do. It's sad and dangerous and not essential (look at Bernie) -- but democracy works best when as many people as possible get out and vote for their interests. It's what forces politicians to take views that are in the interests of significant minorities. It's how you get represented in government.
I get that whatever standing you get in voting for a candidate is somewhat minimal -- but it's something. It establishes a relationship, and it gives you ground to stand on when that candidate starts swerving away from the real issues and towards special interests. I'm interested in having that standing -- and in standing with other Hillary supporters to realize a vision of America that reduces income inequality, holds big banks accountable, and makes preferential option for the poor, marginalized, and vulnerable.
4. Because I Believe in This American Democracy
This may come as a surprise to some, but I'm not so radical as to think that we can't fix our broken political system. I do think it's broken. Badly. But I don't think the fixes are out of reach -- nor do I think they're entirely political. I mean, I think a lot of the solutions to what ails our democracy are political (campaign finance reform, comprehensive immigration reform, policy that reflects a coherent ethic of life), but not all of them. Politicians can't be trusted with the care of the structures of democracy. They'll try and bend them for political aims. That's our job -- we (yeah, yeah) "The People" -- and to be honest I'm sick of spending so much time thinking and worrying about what they will do in Washington.
There's quite of bit of organizing to be done here in South Bend. There's corruption to cleared up. We're desperately in need of accountability and transparency even in our local government. We have someone running for School Board on a fundamentally racist platform. There's folks who are gonna need weather amnesty, others who need someone to show up and protest an embarassing lack of accountability in our police department.
Frankly, I don't have any more mental energy to spend on HRC or DJT.
So I guess that's it, then. I guess I'm with her.