Like hopefully many others, I voted today. This is the fourth presidential election I’ve participated in, and it won’t be my last. Like hopefully many others, I’m just ready for this to be over. The first time I voted for president was Bush versus Kerry. Going into the polling station, I was confident that America would be smart enough to not elect a doofus twice in a row. I was wrong.
Four years later, I was at the polling station again. This time, it was Obama versus McCain. I didn’t think that Obama had enough experience to lead the country, with only a short time serving as a senator in Illinois before he hit the campaign trail. On the other hand, McCain was a war hero who’d spent his life in politics and seemed like a very stand-up guy. His running mate, Sarah Palin, was the polar opposite but I didn’t let that deter me. Election Day came and went and history took its course.
Was I mad that Obama won? Not by a longshot. I was raised in a strongly Democrat, working-class household and thought, hey, maybe the electorate and the people of America saw something I didn’t. When Obama had his first news conference as president elect, I wish I’d have voted for him. He wasn’t even on the job yet and he was already working to reassure people that while the nation (and the world) had a long road ahead of it, the work would be done to get us out of the quagmire we were in at the time. To me it was more than his predecessor, George W. Bush, had done in the previous year of his presidency in terms of making me feel like regardless of the situation we were in, it was going to work out in the end.
Voting for him a second time was a no brainer.
This time around, the decision was a lot harder. There was no way in hell I was going to vote Republican and support the party’s message of doom and gloom, regressive policies and general lack of respect for women’s rights. I voted for Bernie Sanders in my state’s primary because I felt like he was the best person for the job. He didn’t strike me as a capital P politician and his stances on corporate bailouts, campaign financing and his character made me excited.
When he dropped out of the race I wasn’t heartbroken, but I didn’t like that I was going to have to vote for Hillary Clinton. I’m against political dynasties (see: the Bush family), and Clinton’s record of changing her mind based on who wrote the check for the last donation she received troubled me, quite frankly. And yeah, I think her running a private email server is a terrible look too, if only because it sidesteps the record that the government needs to maintain for elected officials. Everything they do needs to be kept track of in the interest of maintaining a complete picture of their professional life. It’s important and necessary protocol and she willingly ignored it.
This is the first time I’ve voted for president where it felt like I was absolutely picking the lesser of two evils. But I was able to mostly put aside my feelings for Hillary when I stepped into the voting booth today. Donald Trump is an absolute monster. His actions are incorrigible, and I honestly don’t know how anyone could vote for him with everything he’s said and done in his sordid past.
He’s changed his mind multiple times within a given interview on things like abortion, mocked disabled journalists (and then denied it when there’s video proof), throws temper tantrums, has treated our election process like a reality TV show, bragged about the size of his penis during a debate… and, well, there are too many other transgressions of his to list here, your time is limited and it’d get redundant.
I voted for Hillary because I want to be able to tell my kids that I voted the first female president. I voted for Hillary because 240 years worth of wars have been started thanks to men and I’m willing to give change a shot. I voted for Hillary because, while she wasn’t my first choice for president, she’s the only real chance we have at defeating a racist man-child with a gigantic microphone and an incredibly small mind.
What’s keeping me sane today is something I picked up over the past eight years: hope. Hope that America is smart enough to not elect a bigot to the nation’s highest office. Hope that America has love in its heart and isn’t afraid to show it. Hope that we’ve learned from past mistakes. This election cycle I’ve mostly kept quiet about who I’m supporting and have chosen to focus my energies on who I’m not. But today and hopefully for the next eight years, I’m with her.