10.16.2016

2016 Election Quiz

Well, we've had quite the doozy of an election season so far, haven't we?  In addition to being the intersection of politics, policies, and personalities, Clinton vs. Trump has served as a sort of Rorschach test on where we stand on issues of class, race, and gender.

Speaking of tests, here are some questions that I throw out, both to hear your answers and to have you critique mine.  And by the way, by "hear" and "critique," I mean less that someone's right and someone's wrong (although that could be the case), and more that one's answers (which represent your own opinion, which you're free to have) are borne of a certain personal bias and therefore reveal that bias to yourself and others.  So I'm curious to know how you feel, how your beliefs consciously or subconsciously influence those feelings, and where my biases affect my answers.

Got it?  So here goes.  Questions first, and then my answers below, in case you want to answer first before viewing mine.

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Questions

1. Can you despise Donald Trump personally and yet still vote for him?

2. If you knew for certain that "voting your conscience" meant guaranteeing that the greater of two evils would win office, would you still vote for a third party candidate?

3. Is attacking Hillary Clinton necessarily sexist?

4. Does attacking Hillary Clinton necessarily mean you are for Donald Trump?  Does attacking Donald Trump necessarily mean you are for Hillary Clinton?

5. Is the fact that Hillary Clinton would be the first female president of the US a relevant factor in choosing to vote for her?

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My Answers

1. Can you despise Donald Trump personally and yet still vote for him?  I think yes.  I personally am not voting for him, but I know people who are because they like him and I also know people who are but can't stand him.  The presidency is so personality-driven and symbolic that it does matter which person inhabits the office, to be sure.  But that office-holder also represents a party, and so if voting Donald Trump makes Republican influence more likely on other important decisions (most notably the selection of a new Supreme Court justice), many Republicans I know are willing to vote for a guy they despise.  At the risk of over-generalizing, voting for party, irrespective of person, appears to be something that is less understood by younger folks and more appreciated by older folks, for reasons I don't quite understand (perhaps it is a split on the importance of loyalty for a platform vs. weighing the merits of individuals).

2. If you knew for certain that "voting your conscience" meant guaranteeing that the greater of two evils would win office, would you still vote for a third party candidate?  This is going to sound awful but I think no.  I am all for breaking up the duopoly and I am all for folks voting for who they like best.  And yet I take this phraseology to mean that if they can't stand either of the top two candidates, they'd rather not vote for either of them and so they don't want to live with the burden of having supported someone who wins and then is a terrible president.  But if one candidate is clearly worse than another, doing something that helps the worser candidate to win would seem to do little to assuage one's conscience.  This all seems so impure, and yet this is what a lot of people have decided about America in the year 2016, is that the system is broken if what it has produces is these last two people standing.

3. Is attacking Hillary Clinton necessarily sexist?  Yes and no.  Obviously, no, an attack on Hillary Clinton's character or policies need not come from a sexist viewpoint.  But let's explore further, because I fear many anti-Hillary folks stop there and don't realize that in fact the words and sentiments they express in their opposition of Hillary Clinton have sexist undertones.  And that is whether that is because we are intentionally being sexist or unintentionally doing so out of ignorance. I can tell you that I have heard some familiar tropes and cringed at them for the ways they tap into old prejudices, and in turn I have thought or said some things myself that I subsequently realized were borne of a sexist point of view and have had to walk back and learn from.

4. Does attacking Hillary Clinton necessarily mean you are for Donald Trump?  Does attacking Donald Trump necessarily mean you are for Hillary Clinton?  No, and this is one that really grinds my gears.  Try as we might, most of the circles we run in are fairly partisan.  It's fun to bash on the other person, I get that.  But it's no fun to raise a legitimate concern about our person and get shouted down as an infidel.  I think everyone would agree that both of our candidates are deeply flawed.  I get that you think one is far worse than the other.  But if your response to attacks on Hillary Clinton is "yes, but what about Donald Trump?" or your response to attacks on Donald Trump" is "yes, but what about Hillary Clinton?" then I'm not sure what to say.  Because one of these candidates is going to become leader of the free world, and it is therefore absolutely fair game to litigate their character, their policies, their decisions, and their ties. 

5. Is the fact that Hillary Clinton would be the first female president of the US a relevant factor in choosing to vote for her?  I think absolutely.  What we love about America is this notion that "anyone can be president."  And yet for the first 232 years of our history, we only elected white men.  The myth of American meritocracy is just that; it's a myth.  We remain the greatest nation in the history of the world, but we are a work in progress.  A particularly important marker of progress is that power and leadership is inclusive of all who can wield it wisely and effectively, irrespective of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, or wealth.  One can oppose Hillary Clinton for whatever reason besides that she is a woman, or vote for her for reasons beyond her sex.  But it is absolutely relevant that her election would mark a significant step in signaling to future generations of girls and boys that indeed "anyone can be president." 



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