The chapter “Election 2016” is coming to a close. But the task of continuing to grow and build the Great American Experiment is ongoing. In that context, I’ve been reflecting on why I believe everyone should vote for Hillary – even my very Republican family members – and why I know the country will be better off when Hillary wins tomorrow.
We are a country that prizes work and values. And those are the things that can unite us after the election.
Running a country – like most other jobs – actually requires skill and experience.
We Americans take pride in a job well done and in the hard work that it takes to do things well. This is the same regardless of which political party we favor. I’ve spent the better part of my career representing employees across the spectrum of jobs in this country. And with most of the jobs involved, it takes particular skills to do the job well; for leadership roles, experience in the particular field is also usually a necessary factor. Regardless of political persuasion, we respect those folks who put in the time to hone their talents and develop the expertise necessary.
The job of President is no different in its dependence on skill and experience. And the tasks of good governance are weighty ones: engaging in the tumultuous waters of international diplomacy; working with members of both political parties in Congress on legislation; leading our armed forces; and otherwise handling crisis situations with a cool head and a steady hand. Only one of the two candidates has experience in any of these categories. Hillary has particular expertise with international diplomacy and Congress. Because she was Secretary of State and Senator.
Although I know that many voters are concerned about Benghazi, Hillary was such an accomplished Secretary of State that even in our bitterly partisan times, Republicans praised her and her service. In contrast, Trump has no experience in actual international diplomacy and has so worried Republican leadership who work on security and foreign relations issues that dozens have openly come forward to explain why they see Trump as unfit and unsafe. Every Republican considering voting for Trump must read the letters from fifty GOP national security and foreign policy experts and from the former head of the C.I.A. These same letters speak to the temperament needed to handle crisis situations and attest to concerns about Trump and praise for Hillary. Neither has served in the military, but the above deals directly with who is most prepared to lead our armed services after the election.
And while in Congress, Hillary worked closely and successfully with Republicans like Sen. McCain (on veteran support), Sen. Graham (on National Guard and reserve services), Sen. DeWine (on prescription drugs), Sen. DeLay (on foster care and adoption), and Sen. Ferguson (on caregivers). At the same time, during an era when the average rate of bipartisan co-sponsorship is hovering in the 6.5% range, her ability while in the Senate to have approximately 30% of her bills have Republican co-sponsors is particularly impressive. As a result, Republicans already in Congress believe that electing Hillary “could help restore a working relationship between the White House and Capitol Hill that has been in tatters.” Consider this anecdote from Republican former Senator Thomas Reynolds:
“I found Hillary to be very reasonable and very interested in working on projects that mattered to my district, but I also saw some of my Republican colleagues say the same thing,” Reynolds said. “Watching her, she knew the process of how to get people involved, earn consideration of her issues and work to get support of her issues. Great lawmakers on both sides of the aisle know how to do that,” Reynolds said.
In contrast, Trump has no experience legislating at all. Nor has he shown an ability to get along with members of his own party, let alone with those on the other side of the aisle. Gridlock does not equal governance. In fact, it is the opposite. After the election, there is an urgent need for our government to work, not showboat.
Both Republicans and Democrats care about the women in our lives.
There are so many other “values” issues we could go into, but that can become unnecessarily fracturing. My goal here is to find the things that everyone can agree on. And everybody has a mother. We have sisters and aunts and grandmothers and wives and lovers. With women making up approximately half of the human race, we’re a part of the package of life. And respecting that half of the population is a non-partisan issue. In fact, it is my experience that political allegiance will tell you very little about how much respect a woman is going to be shown.
And who we elect as President matters. That’s why we brag that our babies may grow up to be President one day.
This has been said countless times before, but the example Trump sets and the messages he sends about women are not in keeping with who we are as a nation. Setting aside the accusations of sexual assault that may well lead to criminal investigation and the numerous lawsuits around gender discrimination, Trump’s degrading comments — which he cannot seem to stop making — have a harm themselves. Recent reports reflect that almost half of all girls surveyed say that Trump has caused them to feel bad about themselves and their bodies. This matters.
I understand that there are many homes where the above is addressed with an explanation that “I know Trump’s a bad man, but we don’t have to like him to vote for him…” While it might sound good to some in the short run, it doesn’t hold up. If Trump were to get elected, we would be proving him right when he said that he could “do anything” to women with impunity. This also matters. As Hillary has rightly cautioned, our children are watching.
Voters on both sides have survived Presidents with whom we disagreed – sometimes vehemently – on policy. After the election, when Hillary wins, there will be many people who disagree with her political choices and priorities. But we won’t have told 50% of our population that they matter so little that their open denigration is a price we’re willing to pay. This election has been difficult for everyone, but who we vote for tomorrow is the ultimate teachable moment. The Mormons in Utah aren’t wrong; we need to be able to sit across the table from our children and explain why we vote the way we do.
Put another way, we define ourselves as being a moral people. And most Americans I know, Republican or Democrat, have a moral code they want to teach their children that precludes a vote for a man like Trump. I know that many people equate some of the choices Hillary has made with immorality as well. If Hillary’s choices mean you cannot vote for her, then don’t. Make abstinence or writing someone else in your moral moment. But electing Trump, a man who revels in what can only be described as a perverse pride in believing he is above it all, cannot be moral either.
All of this is to say that whatever party you might usually vote for, this election has been different. Voting for one of the candidates in this election is inconsistent with what we, as Americans, value in a way that has never been true before. But the reasons above also show that — depending on your political perspective — Hillary is either: (1) a candidate you, your values and the Republic can weather; or (2) a candidate you can rejoice in electing. We don’t all need to see it the same way. But, after the election, we do all need to get back to building our lives, communities, and country.