I can afford to throw away my vote.
I’m a middle-class, straight, white American Christian man.
I have a lot of margin for error. I can afford to throw away my vote.
To me personally, a Donald Trump presidency would be … moderately annoying. I’d roll my eyes at the cowboy bluster he calls “foreign policy.” I’d be irritated that rich people get more tax breaks than I do. I’d take to Facebook to denounce the right-wing justices he appoints to the Supreme Court, ultimately knowing that their decisions won’t have that much effect on me personally, since I’m a middle-class, straight white American Christian man.
I could safely join the 30 percent of young people planning to throw away their votes on the Libertarian Gary Johnson or the Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
I could say I’m not throwing away my vote. I could say that I’m taking a stand, that I refuse to vote for the lesser of two evils, that the Democratic primary was rigged, that the system is broken and this is my statement!
And then if Trump wins Wisconsin because we threw away some votes… so what? And if he wins the nation because he’s won Wisconsin … meh. I’ll be fine. Moderately annoyed, but fine. The DNC will have learned its lesson and I’ll take comfort knowing that I Took a Stand.
I won’t get deported. I won’t have members of my faith barred from entering the United States. I won’t receive “some form of punishment” just for making my own health care decisions. I won’t get waterboarded. I will be neither stopped nor frisked. I won’t ever be asked to show my papers. I won’t worry about my village being bombed because my mom’s second cousin was maybe photographed near someone who said something critical about the United States.
But what about my eldest son – a young Black man about to go off to college? My wife, a Mexican American born and raised in California? My teenage daughter, who would like to earn equal pay for equal work one day? My younger children, born right here in Madison, Wisconsin, with their mother’s olive skin and dark eyes and long black hair?
The Trump Administration would be far worse than annoying for them.
Not to mention every other woman, Muslim, African American, Latino, gay man, lesbian, transgender person or … well, just about everyone except us straight American Christian white men.
We’d be fine.
No one else would.
Now, let’s be clear: if that’s what you want, by all means, own it and vote for Donald Trump. Own it – proactively decide that you think Donald Trump should be president. Just don’t throw away your vote because you can afford to, like I can.
So far we’re just talking about the actual government policies Trump has promised. Even more important: if Trump wins on November 8, then November 9 and every other day in America will feel like a Trump rally.
You know the ones – the ones where the man who would be president incited and encouraged violence against people who disagree with him.
That’s going to be every day in America under President Donald J. Trump.
In American culture, our leaders set the bar for what’s acceptable in civil society. In other words, whatever the president says becomes acceptable in everyday discourse.
“Blood coming out of her whatever.” “She gained a tremendous amount of weight.” “Drug dealers, criminals, rapists.” “You walk down the street and get shot.” “There has to be some form of punishment.”
This will become acceptable speech in everyday civil discourse.
White nationalist thugs will feel empowered to assault and berate African Americans, gays, Muslims, and anyone else not like them. Housing discrimination will run rampant. (After all, if the president can decide not to rent to minorities, so can everyone else, right?) The police will feel more empowered than ever to profile and harass people of color. Gender equity will be set back decades as fat-shaming and slut-shaming will become acceptable in everyday discourse.
Is it worth that to make a “statement?”
If you think so, I call white privilege.
We can sympathize, empathize, click our tongues, shake our heads, call in to liberal radio shows. But when we act only in our own interest — that’s white privilege.
When we decide that making a “statement” is more important than standing up for our brothers and sisters — that’s white privilege.
When we risk only moderate annoyance — and in so doing risk actual harm to other people — that’s white privilege.
When the stakes are low for us, but high for everyone else — that’s white privilege.
When we proudly declare that we will waste the fundamental right that others fought and died for, and still don’t fully have — if that’s not white privilege, I don’t know what is.
As I type this, poor, Black, and brown people are being lied to about how to get a voter ID. Many of them will never get their ID, and will never vote. Others will be turned away at the polls.
If you can take your vote for granted — if you’ve never had to jump through hoops to vote, or never had an “election observer” question your citizenship, or never had to cast a provisional ballot — and you’re still proud to throw that vote away … sorry, that’s the height of white privilege.
Madison365, as a rule, doesn’t endorse presidential candidates. Personally, I urge you to vote — vote for Clinton, vote for Trump. Just don’t throw your vote away.
As a middle-aged, middle-class, straight white American Christian man, I can afford to throw away my vote.
But I won’t.
For the sake of my family and my children, for the sake of my brothers and sisters of all faiths, for my brothers and sisters in the LGBT community, for my brothers and sisters who don’t have a permanent address and can’t get the ID required to exercise their fundamental rights as Americans — I will not throw away my vote.
I hope you don’t either.