When I was a little boy I was terrified that I would live to experience the end of the world. Whether it was by an asteroid, Y2K, or a zombie plague, I would make myself sick by picturing these horrible things that could befall me and my family. Although I was a precocious child, the crippling fear that would lurch its way up my stomach and into my head would sometimes make it impossible to sleep at night. While I like to think I grew out of that phase, I now sit here feeling that way again. I’m crippled with fear that the end of the world is at hand and there may be nothing we can do to stop it. How will the world end? No, it isn’t Lucifer himself coming from hell to bring in the end times, it is someone far worse, and his name is Donald Trump.
By the time you’re reading this post, the first Presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will have occurred and, no matter where you look, the aftermath will haunt us for weeks to come. We will either be sitting here, coaxing in the sunlight that Clinton has, in proper fashion, just goaded Trump into revealing to the 100 or so million viewers that will have chimed in to viewing how completely dangerous he truly is, or will we be scurrying to uncover decade old bunkers that were used during the 1950s and the Cold War to take shelter from the fallout to come should, Donald Trump become the next President of the United States.
However, as I sit here and write this, I wonder what levels of prognosticating can I accurately do? I predict Trump will make sexist remarks, act totally unhinged when fact-checked by either Clinton or the (Republican) moderator Lester Holt and, most likely, use the phrase “believe me” more than a Second Great Awakening circuit preacher. Or, will he be muzzled, refrained, and attempt to, in his own particular fashion, act Presidential. To be honest, I do not know which version of Trump scares me more; the unhinged or the hinged Trump.
I’ve written about Clinton on this blog before, during her primary battle with Senator Bernie Sanders. I have never seen so many comments, masked with faint hints at sexism, coming from people that I not only respect but also thought would see the ultimate test that she (or Bernie) would have to face: Donald Trump. Comment after comment called into question many of her policies that, should she had been born a man, would have made her qualified, tough or a skilled General not afraid to make the difficult decisions.
Having read her book, Hard Choices, I can honestly say that I do not think I have ever studied or investigated a candidate that was more qualified to serve as President; and when the current President backs that up, you have to begin to question what your real motives are for not voting for Clinton, and potentially giving your vote (which equates an endorsement) to a third party candidate or worse, simply not voting at all. Countless times I have had to discuss that this election, although it really comes down to good versus evil, is the most important election that you or myself will vote in (yes, I know, some of you reading this see no difference between Trump and Clinton) for the next twenty or so years. Ask yourself: do you really know what you’ll be losing if Trump is elected?
For me, this all boils down to one thing: my nieces and nephews. I worry about them constantly. I worry about what they watch on TV, what they’ll read for the next 8 years, or whom they will look up to or what horrible things bullies may one day say to them. While I was home in Wisconsin this past weekend, I sat down to have a quick bite to eat at one of my favorite establishments. I opened my book and began reading to only overhear a man and a woman talking about Clinton and Trump and how they were completely torn. I turned around, apologized for intruding into their conversation and began to speak to them about why they felt they couldn’t vote for Clinton and what it was about Trump that put them on the edge as well. Their answers were about character and what they really wanted their grandchildren to go up experiencing. I quickly went over the list of the things Trump had said not only about women but also about people with disabilities and, people in general and asked: Is that the person you want your grandchildren growing up and seeing as the President? A man that calls women bimbos, mocks a person with a disability in front of thousands of people, and frequently calls for violence against non-white individuals? I shared with them that, for me, it was about my two nieces (and my two nephews) but more so my nieces, growing up during their formative years and seeing a woman holding the highest office in the land. Yes, she isn’t just any woman but, a woman in my opinion who is more qualified that anyone ever to hold the office of the Presidency. This race is about the future that they grow up in and one where I hope people will begin to more readily recognize the inherent sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. rather than encourage it from the oval office.
Before you cast your vote, please make sure you think about the future; please make sure you think about the boys and girls that will grow up in a world with President Trump versus President Clinton. Think about that little boy, petrified, standing here now as a grown man worried about the end of the world not because his candidate could lose, but because the person that could win, has a very good chance and ushering in the end times as we know it and ending any type of progress that has occurred in the past 8-years.
Whatever you do, make sure you vote. Make sure you sit there and think not only about yourself but also the U.S. Supreme Court, women’s rights, LGBT rights, communities of color, education, or the countless other topics that will be greatly impacted by the outcome of the November 8th election. If you do anything, think about the world we have now and the world you want to be in 4 to 8 years from now and ask yourself: is a protest or no vote really worth the bleak world we may get as a result of it?
If you’re on the fence, please reach out to me; let me know what your issues are and we can speak about it in the hopes of coming to an understanding of what the future could hold for all of us. I can be reached via email at - firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JErickson85.
No matter what you do, make sure you vote on November 8. It will be the most important thing you do not only on that day but also for years to come.
John Erickson is a Ph.D. Candidate in American Religious History at Claremont Graduate University. He holds an MA in Women’s Studies in Religion; an MA in Applied Women’s Studies; and a BA in Women’s Literature and Women’s Studies. He is a Permanent Contributor to the blog Feminism and Religion, a Non-Fiction Reviewer for Lambda Literary, the leader in LGBT reviews, author interviews, opinions and news since 1989 and the Co-Chair of the Queer Studies in Religion section of the American Academy of Religion's Western Region, the only regional section of the American Academy of Religion that is dedicated to the exploration of queer studies in religion and other relevant fields in the nation. He is currently the President of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh's LGBTQA+ Alumni Association, the Vice- Chair of Public Relation and Social Media for the Stonewall Democratic Club, and the Non-Profit and Governmental Liaison for the Hollywood Chapter of NOW (National Organization for Women). When he is not working on his dissertation, he can be found at West Hollywood City Hall where he is the Community Events Technician and works on policies and special events relating to women, gender, sexuality, and human rights issues that are sponsored or co-sponsored by the City of West Hollywood. He is the author of the blog From Wisconsin, with Love and can be followed on Twitter@JErickson85