By Briana Brady, Opinion Editor–
It’s no secret that a week from today marks a date that some of us have been thinking about since November 8th, 2016. I’ll never forget feeling absolutely gutted when I realized at some late hour that night that Trump was going to win. I remember pacing with CNN blasting on the TV in absolute disbelief as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Florida turned red. I laid my head down on a couch, unable to close my eyes or put my CNN feed down, and I immediately thought of how far away 2020 seemed. I realized that as an ineligible voter (a 17 year-old high school senior in 2016), I would go through nearly my entire college career before our country would have a chance to rid ourselves of a Trump presidency. I tried to imagine where we’d be as a country when November of that year finally rolled around.
Well, now, we are a week away from that November 2020 date where we get a second chance. I’m now a college senior, and I enthusiastically casted my first Presidential ballot for Joe Biden on the first day of Tennessee early voting. We have arrived, four years later, with the chance to once again use our political voice in our cherished democracy, and my goodness…I don’t think anyone in 2016 could have predicted where our country would be now.
In the past four years, I think of the despicable fact that one President has nominated a full third of the Supreme Court; just yesterday, his latest nominee was sworn on to the bench, a mere eight days before the biggest election of our lifetimes.
Let me be clear: one President, who lost the popular vote by over three million votes and won three states’ electoral college votes by less than one percentage point (which if lost, would have resulted in a Clinton presidency), will define the legal statuses of so many vital issues in our nation for generations to come through his SCOTUS appointments. It’s simply wrong and doesn’t represent the wishes of the majority party of the American people. It’s undemocratic.
Yes, we need to abolish the electoral college. And yes, we should impose SCOTUS term limits. But I tear up as I think of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s final plea: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
He and his Republican colleagues couldn’t even respect that.
I think of the moment that the President, when speaking of violence at a white supremacist rally, said there were “good people on both sides.” I think of the time that he gassed peaceful protestors for his Biblical photo op. I think of all the times he has called immigrants “rapists and murderers” and the amount of children he has separated from their parents seeking refuge and opportunity at the border, hundreds still unable to locate their parents. Trying to begin to imagine how that must feel leaves me absolutely heartbroken.
I think of all the times he has publicly mocked and degraded women, and all the efforts he’s gone to in seeking to make abortions dangerous and illegal in the name of being “pro-life.” I think back to his infamous mocking of the disabled and all the ways he has worked against LQBTQ+ people. I think of the 220,000+ lives lost to COVID-19 due to irresponsibility, selfishness, and a pure lack of leadership.
I think about the sheer number of lies Trump has told the American public.
Trump has done so much damage to us as a country and has encouraged some of the worst parts of our nation to reveal themselves in ways previously condemned. But the response to the hatred, bigotry, xenophobia, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and egotism displayed and endorsed by the President has been inspiring. People from all different backgrounds and circumstances have become more informed and have united across the country, on multiple occasions, for multiple causes, to speak up for the changes they wish to see. That has real power and momentum. It carried us through.
But this election should not just be a rejection of Trump, although it certainly must be that; it should also be an enthusiastic vote for Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, and the restoration of human decency, empathy, and decorum.
Even if, like me, Joe Biden would not have been your first choice for the candidacy, I refuse to accept anyone’s viewpoint who claims not voting or voting for someone else is the answer to the desire for greater progressivism. I’m right there with you in seeking to be more progressive in policy and politics, but we can’t take two steps forward without taking one step forward first. A non-vote, a third party vote, or a vote for Trump is in my view irresponsible, selfish, and shameful.
I can’t imagine anyone being undecided at this point, and the thought of single-issue voters existing right now is infuriating. If one issue is defining your vote in this election, perhaps you’ve been living in a cave of privilege. People are dying. Our democracy is dying. Our humanity seems to be fading.
When I woke up on November 9th, 2016, I was in pure shock. I was angry and hurt for people of color, for women, for disabled people, for immigrants, for poor people, and for the disenfranchised. I was devastated and in disbelief that our country had chosen a bigot and a fraud over a sharp and capable woman.
But now is our chance to show up in massive numbers and leave no question in Donald Trump’s mind what it is that we as a United States wish to see for our country. A week from today is the day we must reclaim our democracy, our country, and our humanity. Please, vote beyond yourself.