Monday, July 25, 2016

How I Could Be Convinced To Vote For Clinton*

I have seen it suggested that regardless of my differences with Hillary Clinton, or whatever problems I have with how she has conducted herself in the offices she has served in during her career, I still must vote for her in November in order to prevent a Donald Trump presidency.

I will not be convinced to vote for Hillary Clinton in November by (further) recitations of how awful Donald Trump is, or how his disastrous is proposed polices would be.

What might convince me is if the Clinton campaign as their supporters behave as if they actually believe what they are telling me.

Specifically, if Secretary Clinton were to say something like the following:

Normally, presidential campaigns are about putting forward and comparing agendas, and having robust debates about the merits of each other's policies.
This is not a normal election.
My opponent has demonstrated in many ways that he is unfit for office in many dimensions, and it is my duty to do everything in my power to prevent him from taking this office and putting our nation in danger.
I know that there are many people who share this assessment, but feel they cannot vote for me for one of several reasons.This is addressed to them.
I know there are many hot-button social issues that people differ with me on. I am proposing a truce on these issues for the next four years. I will not be working to advance paying for abortion, now will I press non-government organizations and individuals to act in conflict with their values. I still believe they ought to, but it is more important that we prevent Trump from becoming president.
Another stumbling block for some has been concerns about how I have handled data during my time as Secretary of State. I think some of those investigations were overblown, but I understand why my behavior invited a certain level of suspicion. To that end, I am pledging complete transparency in how I conduct both this campaign, and my presidency. This starts today, as [well-regarded #neverTrump Republican] has agreed to be my compliance officer.
Another concern is the Supreme Court and other assignments. President Obama has nominated Merrick Garland for the current vacancy, and I believe he deserves hearings and a vote. Beyond that, I will honor the Senate's role to "advise and consent" me in choosing future nominees that are agreeable to all parties.
The same is true for decisions to send our armed forces to war. I will seek Congressional approval before taking any military action, that does not require immediacy.
I still have strong positions on all these issues, and I look forward to continuing to advocate for them. But right now, what our country needs to do now is to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president, and I'm doing my part to ensure that doesn't happen.

Is this fair? No.

In particular, it seems unfair that Congress would be rewarded for its years of doing nothing with more power.

Or that Hillary Clinton would work her whole life to become president, only to have to completely dull herself to make it happen.

But nor is it fair to ask voters like me to compromise our principles to stop Donald Trump, when the leaders who stand to benefit are unwilling to do the same. We should demand more from our leaders than from ordinary citizens, not the other way around.

I trust that Secretary Clinton and her campaign have a better idea of the threat Donald Trump represents than I do. If she doesn't make an act like this or similar, I will conclude that they value advancing their agenda more than they value stopping Trump. And I will similarly conclude that staying true to my principles and how a leader should behave is more important to me than stopping Trump.

Secretary Clinton will likely win anyway without the support of me or people like me. But if she wants to ensure it, if she wants to demonstrate how serious she considers the threat of Donald Trump, this is how she can do it.

*I do not have a similar post for Donald Trump, because I cannot imagine a scenario under which I would vote for him, even one as unlikely as what I sketch out here.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Be Not Afraid

Right now, I find myself neither driven by fear of various dark-skinned outsiders to support Donald Trump's presidential campaign, nor by fear of what Donald Trump might do as president to compromise my principles to support Hillary Clinton's campaign. My current attitude is probably summed up by my currently pinned tweet:


This seems to put me outside the experience of many of my fellow Americans.

In reflecting on why that is, I've come up with a few reasons.

Privilege

I am a white Christian male living in a nice neighborhood skilled in what is currently the most in-demand profession, with a steady job at one of the most successful companies in American history in a job directly aligned with its central identity. So, I am not terribly vulnerable to the forces Donald Trump warns about, nor would I be vulnerable to the actions he might take to address them. The same is generally true for most of the people I come in contact with. Christianity may be enjoying less cultural clout than it had before, but Catholicism is currently led by someone enjoying widespread approval and support.

Obviously, I should not need to be personally impacted by circumstances or actions in order to be moved to action by them. But I want to acknowledge the possibility that one reason I may not be as disturbed as others are is that I am fairly insulated.

Trauma

Somewhat paradoxically, another reason this may not be impacting me is what I have been experiencing in my own life.

As I have mentioned, I am the father of a daughter with a chronic fatal disease. This may leave with a bit of "empathy fatigue."  It's hard to get worked up about what Starbucks's' cups look like, or whether someone is using the right word in referring to a group of people when you live with a constant knowledge that your life could be thrown into chaos at any moment.

On the political macro side, I am also pro-life. From my perspective, we are daily killing thousands of unborn children a day, and the political and cultural winds seem to be moving to increasing support.

Given that, while other injustices certainly merit our attention to address, it's difficult for them to rise to the level of existential panic that I seem to be seeing. While I don't completely share Fredik de Boer's assessment of George W. Bush, I am in agreement that we have seen much worse than Donald Trump and survived it.

Faith

And I think this is where I finally hang my hat, especially in light of this weekend's readings. I worship a God who listens to my prayers. Who took my sins to the Cross and then rise from the dead. Who would not a destroy a city because it is inhabited by 10 just souls. How should I be afraid of a real estate "tycoon" who probably won't win, or immigrants, or economic turmoil. My God is greater than all that, and so should I be.

This is not to say that we don't face real problems, or that we don't need to take action to confront them, or to prevent creating new ones. But let's do so out of confidence and spirit, not out of fear.