I tend to remain reserved when it comes to publicly expressing my political opinions. I’m a registered Democrat but to me, this is something I’ve selected as a representation of how I tend to lean in my thinking. It is in no way a complete picture of how I think. I do my best to listen to all sides. I question and research things because I need to understand what’s really going on before I choose a side IF I choose a side at all. I want to remain balanced. I’d say I’m am truly a middle-of-the-road type, which can be difficult. Society seems to mandate that we choose sides and then to also choose which side of the side you chose to be on to be on. I’ve read posts and articles that label middle-of-the-road people as flaky or wishy-washy, but I think we just have a hard time with extremes. For us, extremes can be divisive and destructive even when motivated by valid reasons or good intentions.
Over the past few months, I’ve been hearing the phrase “lesser of two evils,” as we are faced with choosing between the two major candidates, Clinton and Trump for president of the United States (POTUS). After listening to Trump speak, I understand why some say he is evil, but I actually don’t think he is evil. I think he is a privileged, White individual who can get away with saying whatever he wants because his wealth insulates him from the negative impacts. Money is the currency of this world. Individuals who have tons of money can get whatever they want even if they lack character and treat people terribly. I often wonder if Trump’s pretentiousness is a well-thought strategy to win the support of a very angry and disgruntled segment of the GOP (Grand Old Party). If so, it’s working. He’s won the Republican nomination and now has a chance to be POTUS.
I also don’t think H. Clinton is evil. I greatly dislike the fact that someone from the Clinton family is running for president again. I think there should be a rule that says you can’t even run for president if another immediate family member has served. Maybe I should lobby for this. Yes, she received large paychecks for making speeches at Goldman Sachs and other big banks. Yes, she
voted in supported the crime bill that affected minorities, and used the term super predators in reference to Black youths. And yes, she had the e-mail server. When I consider these things, they give me pause, but I don’t think they warrant labeling her as evil, crooked or untrustworthy. Other politicians have done the exact same things she has so why are these things being so focused on now? While I don’t minimize these actions, when I consider them in their context, I just don’t land on my evil button. I often wonder if what we’re really seeing largely at work here is bias towards women. Research shows that women are held to higher ethical standards and receive harsher punishments than men for even the slightest ethical violations (Women Held To Higher Ethical Standard Than Men, Study Shows), and it’s fact that a lot of people, especially men of all political persuasions, do not embrace or endorse female leadership.
Now after looking up the official definitions of evil, I understand how some might say that it applies to both candidates. I respect this, but I had to also accept that it means I’m a little evil too if we are going to look at the broad definition. Ultimately what I don’t understand is the decision to not vote because we didn’t get the candidate of our choice. As I stated earlier, my political affiliation is NOT a full representation of how I think. I have and will continue to vote opposite the my party registration when I believe that is the right thing to do. In the words of Shirley Chisholm, I am “Unbought and unbossed” or at least I try to be.
I’ve read so much on social media about this year’s presidential election. While, this type of activity has its place, I can’t see how this type of activity will change much, if anything at all. Most times we’re just “preaching to the choir” because the people are connected with often share the same or very similar beliefs and values. When they don’t, we ignore, diminish, remove, unfollow or unfriend them. Let’s face it. Most of us live in silos surrounded by people who look and think just like us. We’re okay with this because it is uncomfortable facing our biases and truly considering an opinion, opposite our own, as valid or valuable.
Frustration and disenchantment are at an all-time high on every side. We must be careful not to let frustration get the best of us to the point that we are blinded about sending the clear message that we are not going giving up, no matter how terrible things are or seem. There’s too much at stake. This is our country and we must work and work and work to repair the areas that are lacking. When we make the choice not to vote, we are diminishing our greatest voice. In essence, we end up doing nothing. Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing.”
While protests and speaking up on social media have value, showing up at the polls is what gets counted. Yes, this works somewhat differently for the presidential election, but we elect the intermediaries who make up the electoral college, which elects the president. Now as it pertains to local elections, our individual votes ARE counted. I was upset by the turnout for my home state’s primaries. North Carolina, had a showing of 7.8%. This means 7.8% of our state’s voting population decided which local candidates will appear on our November ballots. No, this isn’t the presidential election, but it wasn’t the president who signed HB2 and most recently HB972 into law.
To me, voting for Black Americans has greater significance. Our right to vote was secured with blood by people like Rev. George Lee who was killed after refusing to end his voter registration efforts AND Jonathan Daniels, a student who was killed due to helping with Black voter registration AND Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson and Cynthia Wesley, who were killed when a bomb exploded at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama. When I ask these folks if I should vote, their response is a resounding YES so that’s what I’m going to do no matter how angry or hurt or evil things seem.
Feature Image Credit: Maksim Kabakou