What You Need to Know Before You Vote

First of all, your voice matters. Your vote matters. It may not always feel that way because of the way our electoral college works, but here’s how it does, even with the complications of our system:

It’s not an exaggeration to say that this presidential election cycle has been a shit show. It’s not about policy anymore or what the president will implement when he or she is in office, but about human decency. Many people have stated that this election is about choosing between the best of two evils. In some ways I understand this argument:  one candidate brags about sexually assaulting women and the other seems corrupt. But to say that the two candidates are equally bad or even comparably bad is wrong. Donald Trump has offered a vision of the presidency that makes many people angry, including his supporters, but not towards him. His buzzwords against Hillary Clinton include: emails, Benghazi, corrupt, Wall Street, and ISIS. Have you ever stopped to wonder why Clinton being associated with certain words has been more harmful to her than Donald Trump’s documented behavior has been to him?

I was on the Bernie Sanders train and voted for him in the primaries. I knew it was likely he wasn’t going to win, but I voted for him because I believed in his values and his campaign. I am a feminist, I believed then and still believe now that Hillary could do extraordinary work for women, but I didn’t trust her. I noticed myself becoming very critical of Hillary for things I didn’t quite understand, until I was challenged by my mom (yes, mom, sometimes you are right – but maybe just this once). Hillary grew up in a generation of women where one couldn’t act like a woman and gain respect. In order to succeed, you had to act like a man and that’s what Hillary Clinton did. Her persona comes off  to many as cold, fake, untrustworthy, and angry. People don’t like this, because these characteristics are not representative of what a woman is supposed to act like. She’s in positions of high power, and that makes many people uncomfortable. I myself have asked: why does she do the things she does? Why did she send emails on personal servers, when it’s clearly reckless? Why did she let what happened in Benghazi happen? Unfortunately, there are no clear cut answers.

But here’s the thing: I was a Hillary supporter up until Bernie came into the picture. He, like Trump, started using buzzwords that I mentioned previously. And yes, some things that Hillary has been caught up with are fishy. But at the same time, I do have to wonder why do her emails have bothered me more than Bernie’s support for gun rights. And now looking back, they don’t. Here’s why I don’t care about the emails: because the FBI reviewed them, twice now, and still have no case against her. Here’s why I think there are more important things to be focusing on than Hillary’s role in Benghazi: because all elected officials, including Bush in 2001, have had to make decisions on whether or not to act on security threats on a daily basis – and sometimes they get it wrong. This doesn’t mean they’ll always get it wrong. I recently watched a documentary on what it’s like for a Chief-of-Staff (CoS) in the White House, called the President’s Gate Keepers, and a former CoS of Obama stated that when something is brought to the President he or she is always faced with what to most of us would seem like an impossible choice. It’s always between something bad and something worse.   No matter what, many people will be displeased with how the President will dealt with that particular challenge.

I’m not making excuses for Hillary, I just think we all need to think more about why we think of her in the way that we do. Would she really be that bad as a president? If you think she will, what qualities or characteristics do you believe make her bad?

Another thing that I think people should consider before voting, is that elected officials are people. Last time I checked, people make mistakes, and they not only make mistakes, they make a lot of them. It’s also a mistake to think of elected officials as something more than human, because you’re giving them a power that they do not deserve. Furthermore, idealizing politicians discredits what you, as a voter and citizen are capable of. Elected officials have to listen to their constituents, it’s why we vote, and it’s the way that our system is set up. When you think about it, the people are supposed to be more powerful than the three branches of government. We all, in one way or another, elect them. If we’re unhappy with them, we have to do something about it.

Not voting, not speaking, and not acting, keeps things from changing. If you’re unhappy with the presidential candidates you’re choosing between, do something about it. If you’re unhappy about our presidential system, do something about it.

An election forecast from FiveThirtyEight can be found bellow, so make sure you show up and vote so that the predicted turn out is in the favor of a future U.S. where people don’t have to worry about being deported for not being white and where women don’t have to worry about their pussies being grabbed by strangers.