UPDATE: I did not end up voting for Hillary Clinton. My concerns were too grave.
I want to address my white, conservative readers, the ones considering voting for Donald Trump next month.
I myself am a conservative in many matters. And, I, too, believe Hillary Clinton has a long history of dishonesty*. The peril she chose to put our country in by using a private email server during her time as Secretary of State astounds me. I do not believe one word she has said on this subject or on many others.
I am, however, planning to vote for her.
Why? Because the Republican party has chosen to nominate a candidate who is far worse. As one conservative writer has aptly said,
Clinton’s faults, deep as they are, are the faults of a normal politician. Trump’s are in another category….The further we go into this campaign, the harder it is to believe that the US faces equal danger from these two.
Many excellent pieces have been written (by conservative writers!) on the particular danger a President Trump would pose due to his radical immaturity, complete self-obsession, and total lack of self-control. Not to mention the way such a man would degrade the office of the President. (For examples, see here, here, and here.) I will not re-trod here the arguments made so well in these pieces and many others.
Instead, I want to suggest one more thing you need to consider when contemplating voting for Donald Trump. One less discussed issue is what a vote for Trump communicates to Black and Latino Americans.
Voting for Trump says to your fellow citizens, I do not care about you, your safety, or your rightful place in our society.
To my mind, that is a reasonable way to interpret a Trump vote. This is a man, after all, who refused to denounce David Duke and whose first comments as a presidential candidate were about Mexicans being rapists. Indeed, to propel his campaign, he has stoked the hatred of avowed white supremacists.
I do not believe that all is fair in love, war, and presidential campaigns, that anything goes when you’re running for office. As the 2015 Charleston massacre showed, there are still white supremacist neo-Nazis in our society. We should not be naive about this. Rather than diminish their influence, Donald Trump has given them respect and a larger platform….to the danger of our fellow citizens. This is shameful. More than shameful.
Now, you may say, I am not a racist. I am voting for Donald Trump for totally different reasons. These decisions are complex, and cannot be boiled down to just one issue. That may be, but you need to understand that your vote will be interpreted as a complete dismissal, if not act of hatred, by American communities of color.
I, for one, am not willing to say to Black, Latino and other Americans of color, I see how Trump has fanned flames of white supremacy, and I hear your pain over that, but that’s not my top priority. Sorry, I just care about other things more.
Can you imagine saying that to the faces of your friends and acquaintances of color? Make no mistake, that’s exactly what a vote for Trump says, whether you intend it to or not. I beg you to grapple with that. Please think hard about how willing you are to wound entire communities and to support their worst fears about white Americans.
If you think I’m wrong, I encourage you to go talk to people of color in your life and ask what a vote for Trump means to them personally.
* Originally I wrote that Hilary Clinton is “a dangerous liar.” After a friend challenged me on the helpfulness of such labeling, I edited it to say that she has “a long history of dishonesty.”
© Laura Goetsch and Thinking About Such Things, 2016