I did not expect that in my lifetime I would witness what I consider a palpable threat to our governance in an existential, non-hyperbolic way. I voted for Hillary Clinton because she's capable, smart and qualified, but I also voted strongly in favor for the continuation of the American Experiment.
This year's election has exposed the very fragility of it. We're living on a knife's edge between what America ideally represents, and how easily we can succumb to totalitarianism. Dictators don't sneak in quietly through illegal means; they march in blaring loudly and angrily and almost comically.
Incoherent babbling is the best screen upon which to project personal disaffection; if Trump spoke articulately, no one in his audience would agree with him. But by keeping his speeches vague, shifting his anger from one group to the next with no factual evidence to back up his claims, he becomes the voice of all by saying nothing. The people who vote for Trump are not evil. They're angry. And whatever rage they're feeling is channeled into this inchoate storm personified by Donald Trump.
But with Trump comes the genuine threat to our Constitution. Drawn up by our forebears, or amended in the anguish and tears and blood of our ancestors, Trump has revealed which parts of the Constitution he has no use for, has even staked his presidential platform on its destruction: Freedom of Religion is only for certain religions; the Freedom of Speech does not apply to the press; Freedom of Assembly is not guaranteed for those who oppose him. These three things alone should make everyone quake. But his absolute disregard for the law of our land, the sanctity of your rights, for your loved ones' rights, should be enough to make you vote for Hillary Clinton, no matter if you're far Left or far Right, or disestablishmentarian, or merely disgruntled. Your freedom to hold an opinion is under direct attack.
Democracy is hard. It sometimes takes decades to arrive at what freedom looks like, but dialogue is difficult when millions of people are all talking. It takes time to listen to all the voices. We inch forward, and then we inch back again. But eventually we arrive at the kernel of our truths: slavery is to be abolished; women must have the right to vote; interracial marriage is protected; Jim Crow is unfair, gay men and women have the right to marry. The Constitution is a living document. Amendments to it can and should be made; it's a framework but not a fixed one. Our minds are not set in granite; our government isn't either.
It takes too long for every citizen to see the benefits of these long and often painful dialogues, which unfold over time and space and generations, and the debates about our freedoms are hard fought and hard won. But freedom isn't guaranteed unless you have these conversations. You have to raise your voice. You have to listen, even when you don't like what you hear. You have to vote, not just for your candidate, but with your children's freedoms in mind.
If you have to be FOR something this election, vote FOR our Constitutionally protected freedoms. None of them are guaranteed under Trump.