I’ve been teaching Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics for almost ten years now. Ask any student who has passed through my classroom in that time to name one thing I taught them. They would likely tell you that I emphasized over and over again the importance of enlightened voting.
If you don’t vote, don’t complain. It’s what I always say.
One of the most exciting moments in my teaching career was being offered the opportunity to appear on The Colbert Report in 2012 as a feature of the show’s “People Destroying America.” (Watch it HERE) Stephen Colbert humorously pointed out that by registering young people to vote, I was partly responsible for empowering them to upend Establishment politics. He used his trademark satirical humor to highlight my efforts at emboldening youngsters (the most powerful voting bloc in the United States, by the way) to cast a ballot from the moment they were able, understanding that young voters become super-voters over the span of their lifetimes. We had so much fun filming that segment and I will never get tired of being known as that “Voter Fraud Teacher.” I love, love LOVE being the chick teacher who teaches other smart chicks and dudes how to wield political power at the voting booth.
Last night I watched in awe and astonishment, with admiration even, as Hillary Rodham Clinton accepted her party’s nomination for President of the United States. It was the most historic moment I’ve witnessed in my lifetime. It’s one of my lifetime’s Kennedy Assassination. It one-upped my witness to the 2008 Barack Obama election and it was even more moving as a woman to watch it happen than witnessing Sandra Day O’Connor take the oath as the first female Justice on the US Supreme Court in 1981.
When I am old, rocking my granddaughter on my lap, I can say, “My dear girl, I was there.”
Unfortunately, I just don’t love Hillary Clinton…at all. We will never know her whole story. For me, her involvement in the dirty ditches of politics goes back to the first time I remember thinking she and her husband might actually have been involved in the 1993 death of Vince Foster. I was just a kid hearing my parents talk about it and even I could put it together that something very sketchy just went down. It’s been a laundry list of nastiness and scandal ever since for the Clintons. I believe in my heart that the Clintons’ tradecraft goes so much deeper than most people can even grasp.
While I respect her fortitude and her aggression… I mean, her #GirlPower is unparalleled… I still cannot vote for a woman who I suspect puppets the levels of deceit and dishonesty that she imposes on American citizens. Call it following my gut instincts. There’s just something diabolical about her.
I also cannot fathom electing Donald Trump for President of the United States. Watch this video: Nixon 1968 . I show this clip in my government classes to highlight a time in our history (the 1960s) when there was so much upheaval and chaos in America, civil rights violence and military overreach, all under the strong arm of a president with a seriously skewed idea of how much power he was supposed to have. It’s a little too familiar to hear Trump talk about his own intentions in bringing our current racial violence and social unrest ‘back under control.’ He thinks he is above the law, and above the tenets of the US Constitution.
In a perfect world, the Republicans would have chosen a winnable candidate I could get behind, someone like Rand Paul, a man whose vision (LOL! a pun!) very closely represents my beliefs. That didn’t happen. Instead, my party chose a man who is totally incompetent, unprepared and unworthy to hold the same prestigious office as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. He won his nomination by using hate and fear to divide us, to make us actually hate one another. (The enemy of my enemy is my friend). I cannot cast a vote for him because, quite frankly, he embarrasses me. I cringe to think of the rest of the world watching one of his press conferences. As a history teacher, I know who he is. We’ve seen his kind before. I’m not sure what scares me more, what he can’t do that he thinks he can or what he will do once he’s put in such a position of power.
There is a reason we call Third Party Candidates “spoilers.” I cannot vote for a third party candidate because a vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson, for example, simply hands over a wider margin of victory to a candidate I do not support. In this case, in this election, by voting Libertarian I would be helping to elect HC. So for me, and this is just me, I have chosen not to contribute to the train wreck that I believe is coming our way. I considered voting along party lines for Trump, because what does it matter at the end of the day, right? But I believe it does matter and then I asked myself, on the morning after the election, will I want to wake up and admit that I played a part in this sad exercise in American democracy in any way? No, I won’t.
I want nothing to do with the election of either of these two misguided Americans.
My non-vote IS my vote. I abstain with vigor. I am withholding my vote in a motion of resistance. In July of 1776 when the 13 colonies were voting on independence, New York abstained as well. It was agreed by all that a unanimous vote would send a clearer message to the King about their resolve and although New York was not ready to cast that vote, they still sent their message by not obstructing it either. That was their message.
The United States has the lowest voter turnout rates of any Western democracy. It is obvious that we take our most sacred right for granted and when I stay home, no one will take note or care. Still, at least I will not feel like I condoned the election of either of these two clowns. This is my resistance to a choice in candidates that I believe is destructive to our entire system of government. They make a mockery of us as a nation and I am truly embarrassed that the world is watching this freakshow unfold. I apologize to my thousands of students who might feel I am betraying my own teachings. I am still trying to figure out how we got to this point. I hardly even recognize myself and my new beliefs about casting a ballot in the free-est country on earth.
May God Bless These United States of America. I still love my country and I hope I’ll be back when I feel we’ve again found our way back onto the right path as a nation.
Author’s Note: Since publication of this blogpost this morning, a law enforcement officer in a large American city on the campaign trail, a person I am personal friends with, tells me firsthand that HC is rude and disrespectful to her security detail and that tells me definitively that my hunches about her are correct.