This election season has been … rough, to say the least. At this point, everyone is tired. And frustrated. And stressed. And angry. And did I mention tired?
It’s all going to come to an end soon. Hallelujah! In five short days, we will elect our next president. I will be voting for Hillary Clinton, and you should too.
Before I get attacked by the progressive millennials (who suddenly want to dismantle the two party system) and the right-wing conservatives (who are so blinded by their hatred, they can’t even recognize their own hypocrisy), I want to make one thing clear — voting for Hillary Clinton does not mean I 100 percent agree with everything she has to say.
I was a Bernie Sanders supporter since the start of this election. In fact, I’m #StillSanders. What the Democratic National Committee did with Sanders in the primaries was unfair and absolutely unacceptable. They should be held accountable, and we must do whatever we can to assure that happens.
[Read Related: Berning Down Stereotypes: Meet Bernie’s Diverse Supporters]
Yeah, I wish things played out differently, but like President Barack Obama said,
“Democracy requires compromise, even when you are 100 percent right.”
Here’s the simple reality of the situation: there are two leading candidates in the race, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton, and one of these two candidates is going to be the next president of the United States.
I don’t think there’s a need to explain why voting for Trump is out of the picture, but just in case you missed it, Trump is a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, lying, hypocritical bigot and sexual predator who has mastered the art of loudly repeating the same words over and over to mask the fact that he has zero legitimate policy plans — end of discussion. If in spite of all this, you’re still defending him, then I have nothing left to say to you except that I pray that one day your mind is opened and you see the light.
[Read Related: Donald Trump: The Most Dangerous Man-Child of America]
“What about third party candidates?” “Clinton isn’t any better.” “My conscious doesn’t allow me to vote for the lesser of two evils.” “We must dismantle the two-party system.”
First of all, the third party candidates, Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, are not the best options if you are looking for a Bernie Sanders replacement (See why here and here). Even if these candidates were polling close to the major party candidates, I would still vote Clinton. Second, voting in an election is not going to dismantle the two-party system. You can’t tell me to vote third party because your preferred candidate wasn’t nominated when you gave these same candidates zero attention this entire election season. The work towards giving third parties momentum needs to start in the years before the election. Linda Sarsour explains this best:
And let’s be real, at this point in the race, a third party candidate will not be president.
It comes down to Clinton. Now, I completely understand the qualms people have with Clinton, because I have those too. She’s been in the political realm for so long that she definitely has mastered the art of saying what a particular audience wants to hear. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing in politics when you’re trying to achieve bipartisanship or settle on deals. Politics isn’t a clean game but it does create a sense of distrust. I also have issues with many of Clinton’s stances on foreign policies (i.e. Palestine), which I won’t go into detail about because this article will turn into a book.
So, why am I voting for Clinton when I have many issues with her as a candidate? To be completely honest, the day Trump became the Republican party nominee, none of these issues were a priority to me anymore. It sounds selfish, and maybe it is, but let me explain.
A president is a representation of what your country embodies. While the rest of the world is watching, young kids with aspirations are, too. Who we elect to be in one of the most powerful positions in the world affects them more than anyone else.
I was in third grade when 9/11 happened. I lived in Boston at the time and paranoia was at a high. I was too young to really understand what or why everything was happening, but I noticed people on the news saying bad things about Islam. I went to an Islamic School at the time and teachers were telling us to be careful and alert. My next door neighbor came by and asked my dad if anyone had bothered us. All I grasped from the situation was that everyone hated Muslims, and I was confused as to why because what the terrorists did on 9/11 was completely against everything Islam stood for.
Six days later, our teacher stopped class early and had us gather around a small television to watch President George W. Bush speak live at the Islamic Center of Washington, D.C.
“The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam,” Bush said. “That’s not what Islam is all about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.
“When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort, solace, and peace. And that’s made brothers and sisters out of every race. America counts millions of Muslims among our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country. Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms, and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.”
You can read the entire statement here.
As a third grader who knew absolutely nothing about politics or government, all I saw was our president, who I thought controlled everything and was the most powerful person, speak up for me. My third-grade self-wasn’t afraid to be a Muslim anymore. I didn’t feel the need to hide my identity as a Muslim American. Had I not felt this way during a time when Islamophobia was at a high, I don’t know if I would’ve had the courage to start wearing hijab six years later.
I am now 24 years old, much more politically aware, a bit wiser, and comfortable in my identity. I’ve never been intimidated by Islamophobia. Yet, I would be lying if I said that despite having issues with President Obama’s foreign policies, I haven’t felt a sense of hope, a sense of relief, whenever he has spoken out in defense of Muslims in time of ultimate frustration. And if they can mean so much to someone like me, I can’t fathom what such words could mean for kids, and even adults, struggling with their American identities. Kids who may not live in a diverse community. Kids who may be bullied for they way they look or what they believe in. Kids who don’t have a supportive friend group. Kids who are made to feel excluded or misplaced in this country. Kids who don’t want to be seen with their immigrant parents in public. Kids who fear to wander in their own neighborhoods.
This is a glimpse of what a year and a half of Trump has done:
Man hangs black mannequins in tree next to his Trump yard sign. Claims just “Halloween”. This is why I don’t give a shit about those emails. pic.twitter.com/4whdomAdNv
— Marcus bullock (@Mbhokie97) October 30, 2016
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) September 10, 2016
It’s going to take time for our communities to heal from just a year and a half of a Trump campaign. Now just imagine what a four-year Trump presidency will do. We cannot allow our communities to start a trend of regression.
Clinton isn’t the perfect candidate, but she has shown that she can be progressive. The fact that she acknowledged the existence of institutional racism in a debate shows me that she does listen when we protest. I have no doubts that she will speak out against the wrong, and it is our job to make sure she implements the progressive platform she is running on right now.
A Clinton presidency will ensure that our future generations live to be unapologetically themselves, regardless of their race, religion, gender, ethnicity, or sexuality.
So to my progressive left friends, independent friends, republican friends, this is my last plea to you. Don’t stop fighting for the issues that matter to you, but please vote for Hillary Clinton for president.
Hera Ashraf is a Bollywood lover, dessert enthusiast, and coffee addict who believes in science and is currently living in the mild (mid)west.