A message to millennials about the 2016 Presidential election
I am 62 years old. I am an immigrant. I have been a US citizen since 1993 (and proud of it). I have participated in the election process since the very first time I was eligible. And I have never witnessed anything like what we are witnessing this year (which could have consequences beyond any other election I have been involved in as a citizen).
I will also say that I am a progressive liberal (whatever that means for those who hate the word “progress” and the word “liberty” (the root of the word “liberal”)). It means that I respect every single individual as a person regardless of race, religion, origin or social status. I believe that education and health care are fundamental rights that the citizenry must organize to provide. I believe that the government has no business telling us who to love, when to have babies and what religion (if any) we should adhere to. I believe in free enterprise only to the extent that enterprises respect people, the environment, and the public good. I believe in free speech to the extent such speech is not purposely offensive to others. I believe that the tax system is not a way to “get your money from you” but a way to participate in the building of a better, more inclusive and fairer community. I believe that guns and more guns make communities more dangerous. I was a Bernie Sanders’ supporter during the primaries.
As one ages, elections tend to be less and less consequential (because we have less and less time for these elections to impact our lives). It is the nature of things. That being said, us, the “baby boomers” want to weigh in more and more into decisions that will affect younger generations, even generations that have yet to be born. This is the nature of our egotistical selves. [Notice that in the UK, an overwhelming number of younger people were told by an overwhelming number of older people that they could not be part of Europe…how dare we, the almost dead, make such decisions. I guess it is called democracy in all of its imperfections].
We, older folks, when we vote, we should think first and foremost about our children and children’ children. They want to build their own lives under their own terms. That is the way it should be. But every four years, we are all “equal” and make decisions, one age group at a time, with vastly different reasons and vastly different consequences on our own singular future. I do not know of a better way. However, this time is different!
You, the millennials (18 to 34…who came up with these numbers? Let’s say the younger active generations) will have a major influence, if not determining influence, on this election. It is a simple reflection of demographics. This year (like any other election cycle), you may look at the choice of candidates before us as a choice between individuals, political programs or ideologies. In politics, there really are no other alternatives.
The US political system is not a parliamentary or representative democracy. A two party system is clearly odd given the rainbow of opinions about a particular topic in any organized civilization. Even “independents” must find a “home”, so to speak, with this arbitrary partition of the state between Democrats and Republicans. Why would anybody be forced to make such a choice is a clear sign that the “most exceptional country in the world” is not that “exceptional” when it comes to the maturity (and representability) of its political process.
It is a system that has allowed one candidate (Al Gore) to win the popular vote in 2000 and lose the election. I have a more benign view of George W Bush than many. I think he is a decent man who surrounded himself with ideologues for political reasons. That being said, he “gave” us the Iraq war. And I dare say that if Al Gore had been President, it would not have happened. (You may, at this point, check the name Ralph Nader).
This year the two main parties have vastly different candidates. One is experienced (some say to a fault). The other is a bully who has never done anything in his life other than for himself. Some say that HRC cannot be trusted because of “all her scandals”. OK so name one for which you have specific data that show she is “crooked” (Mr. Trump favorite nick name), or incompetent. Did she make mistake? Sure…and you never did or never will? [Note: for instance people talk about Benghazi…forgetting that 3 GOP Presidents (Reagan, Bush 1 and Bush 2) got way more Americans killed because of their reckless actions than HRC might have by her lack of action…and by several order of magnitude). And with respect to the Clinton Foundation, name ONE reason you could call this a “scandal”…scandal because they are trying to provide help to 3rd world nations to deal with HIV…is that the scandal?]. Bottom line is this: If I ask the question: why don’t you trust HRC? All you will say is…well, what exactly will you say?
Now I love Bernie. I lived in Vermont for many years so I know him well. He is something else. And he did something else altogether. As a progressive liberal, he “hits” all my buttons. That being said, he decided to enter the Democrats contest. It was HIS choice. He could have run as an independent ("3rd party"). He did not. Was the process “rigged”? Show me a political process that is not! Sure thing is that lots of big wigs wanted HRC to win, even before she even got in the race. But in the end, Bernie got less votes.
Let me ask you this question though: do you think that letting Donald Trump be elected POTUS is going to fix the process you are upset about?
Now some of you want to stay home on Election Day or vote for a “3rd party” candidate. So let me tell you one thing: unfortunately, when it comes to the Presidential election in the US, there are no such thing as a “3rd party” candidate because none of them has any chance to win! A protest vote you want to cast. Really? Again: on November 7th, the day after the election either Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump will be POTUS. That is it. And you have to ask yourself which one of the two you are ready to live with or support for 4 years, if not 8.
But here are some question I REALLY want you to ask yourselves before you stay home or cast a “protest vote” (which is the equivalent of a 7 years old pouting because she/he did not get her/his favorite desert). If Donald Trump is elected because you stayed home or supported a “3rd party” candidate, I want you to close your eyes and answer all the following questions:
What will YOU say to all of those who will lose their health care insurance when Obamacare is repealed and not replaced?
What will YOU say to all the black men who will now be stopped and frisked?
What will YOU say to minorities, like LGBT, when their rights to live like everybody else is taken away?
What will YOU say to minorities when everything is done to take their right to vote away from them?
What will YOU say to all the women who will not be able to have a legal abortion because Trump has nominated one or several judges on the Supreme Court who want to take the country back to the middle age?
What will YOU say to Muslims when they are profiled or their family prevented to come visit them from abroad?
What will YOU say to the millions of hard working immigrants who are here and will be thrown back over the border?
What will YOU tell their children whose only home is the USA?
What will YOU say to your grandparents when Social Security is wrecked and they do not get the benefits they worked all their life to get?
What will YOU say to victims of frauds by big banks (such as Wells Fargo) left unprotected because the Consumer Protection Service Bureau (whose mission is to uncover and fight fraud) has been dismantled?
What will YOU say to the families of all the people who will die of gun violence because nothing will be done to curbs the reckless ownership of guns in America?
What will YOU do when the environment, the air you breathe, the rivers, the soil, is polluted by rampant filth? What will YOU do to for all the people who live on lands that will be destroyed by oil companies?
During an election campaign, a lot of things are promised by all the candidates. Very few of them ever happen. More jobs? Less taxes? More of this, more of that. A country is too complex for one person to fulfil the exuberant claims that candidates peddle on the campaign trail
However, in this election, one candidate has made clear that there is a number of things he will do. The frightening thing is that he will have the power to do them. Or to roll back decades of progress, affecting the lives of millions of people. And he is supported by ideologues who cannot wait for him to be in office to actually do all these things!
Casting a vote for a third party candidate is simply voting for Donald Trump. You cannot hide from that fact. YOU CANNOT HIDE FROM THAT FACT! And before you do elect Donald Trump, yes YOU who is full of idealistic ideas about how the world should be, I want you to close your eyes, imagine the day after the election, Donald Trump is President and now you need to find an answer to all the questions I asked for all the people I have named who will suffer the consequences of your egotistical, immature decision. See, we old people, are not the only one whose choice can have disastrous outcome on other people’s lives!
Close your eyes and imagine how you will answer those questions! Because you may have to.