Politics As Un-Usual

I’ve never put a political sign in my yard, never. The closest I came was a sign protesting a pipeline that was proposed for my historic neighborhood. The project would have involved extensive digging alongside dozens of historic structures and along the route that children take to walk home from the elementary school around the corner. Everyone in town opposed it. There was nothing controversial about my stance on that issue. This week I’ll be planting my Hillary flag proudly, if for no other reason than to follow suit with Atlantic Monthly and anti-endorse Donald Trump.

I like to keep my political affiliations semi-private. People who know me can tell which way I lean without asking, but generally when I am in mixed (Republican) company I remain silent. My goal is to listen to those with differing views. I want to understand them, to follow their logic. This election year though, logic is under attack. Again.

When I saw the first Trump sign go up in my neighborhood early in the campaign, I was taken aback to say the least. Really? You’ve made that call already? Do you not know who Donald Trump is?

I’m a New Yorker. I’m a country dwelling ex-pat now, but a New Yorker is always a New Yorker. I grew up in a semi-detached row house that can’t be found on google maps just across the Queens border in Nassau County. The Cross Island Parkway was the view from my living room. We were 15 miles from midtown. My parents worked in Manhattan. I moved to that magical island when I was accepted to NYU and stayed until exiling myself upstate among the rest of the artists that had been priced out of the center of the arts universe. Donald Trump has always been a joke to me and to my Republican parents.

His buildings are some of the most hideous eyesores ever to blight the skyline that has been the backdrop of my life. His failures have been epic. His bankruptcies common knowledge among city dwellers and fodder for jokes at his expense. When I was in my 20s I literally collided with “the Donald” on my way into a small club in the west village. He was on his way out and rudely didn’t say excuse me, but hey, at least he didn’t grab me by the pussy.

During my brief stint as a real estate agent on the Upper West Side of Manhattan I fielded hundreds of phone calls and emails from potential home buyers in my territory around Lincoln Center. The number one request I received from people was please, don’t show me any Trump properties! 

I found “The Apprentice” entertaining for a minute, comical. Until Yves and I were solicited by the cast of the second season while on our way into our favorite Riverside Park dog run with Bartoo one day. With a camera in my face, Trump’s crony wannabes attempted to sell me dog grooming and massage services. I said no. No self-respecting dog owner would subject their furry family member to potential torture at the hands of clearly untrained and uninsured “groomers”. Trump had tasked the cast of “job applicants” with starting their own mobile dog grooming businesses in the park. I couldn’t believe that this dangerous stunt would even be considered by Trump and his team of producers. Or that some people wanted to be on TV so badly that they said yes to these fly-by-night reality show morons and then were shocked when their dogs’ claws were cut to the quick causing intense pain to the animals. The whole thing was just so irresponsible on everyone’s part. The idiots had agreed to let the bigger idiots perform services they were not trained to perform on their pets. They got what they deserved, but what about the poor innocent dogs?

This election year, keeping my mouth shut about Trump as a candidate is making me feel like one of those dogs, helpless and at the mercy of those who do not have my best interests at heart but seek only another 15 minutes of fame. Fame without the goods to back it up, without substance. Like most of the endeavors that bear Trump’s moniker the sales pitch has become more the focus than the product, and so we are offered second-rate goods.

There are real issues driving a wedge between the two sides of our clearly divided country, but we have yet to see the candidates truly debate their policies to deal with these issues face to face. Instead we, the voters, have been given a front row seat to the latest Trump reality show. His own alternate reality. The stream of bullshit that comes from the tiny pursed opening in Trump’s constantly scowling face is laughable. There are recordings of him saying reprehensible and stupid things that he just denies having said, or better yet attributes to “locker room talk”. His debate style includes mouth-diarrhea ramblings the likes of which I haven’t seen since… well, ever!

I don’t love Hillary Clinton, although she has my vote. That is to say, she doesn’t thrill me the way Barack Obama did in 2008, but this is not about love, this is not about thrills and it shouldn’t be about the show that reality has become. This is a job interview. The most important job interview in the world. We, the American people, are the hiring committee. We should be asking ourselves which one of these potential employees will benefit the company the most. Who will be ready for the job first thing Monday morning? Who will be more likely to listen to their employer’s needs? Who can work together with a team of other employees to further projects to benefit the company? Who is the most qualified? That is the bottom line. The rest of it is entertainment. Donald Trump is good at entertainment, but at this point the show has morphed into some kind of Halloween horror-fest that I need to watch through the tiny slit between my slightly spread fingers that I have slapped over my eyes to protect myself from the hulking blob of orange monster on the screen. Face it, Donald Trump has never been on a job interview. He’s never had to answer to anyone but himself.

I try daily to process the endless parade of public misogyny that I have been witness to during the last several weeks. I thought the Trump horror show had culminated with the revelation of his grotesque remarks to Billy Bush about his uninvited groping of women’s genitals and his abusive actions and feelings of entitlement towards young beautiful women. But, as if taking a page from the reality TV playbook, Trump has taken us further down into the gutter, just when we thought there was no lower point to which we could sink. By denying that he has ever actually behaved as he described himself behaving on that now famous recording, he has caused several women to break their silence about his unwanted advances. But Trump’s response to his accusers makes me sick. Just days after he accused Secretary Clinton of “blaming and shaming” women who accused her husband of sexual misconduct he publicly called his accusers liars. Trump even went as far as to say some of them were not attractive enough to be sexually assaulted by him. As if sexual assault is about the victim’s looks and not the perpetrator’s power.

Trump’s behavior is not presidential. His behavior is barely human.

On the other hand I am grateful to Donald Trump’s candidacy for exposing just how commonplace sexism and abuse is in our society. Because of Trump’s campaign, women’s issues are at the forefront of our discussion as a country and it’s awakened a lot of us to something that’s been in plain sight for decades, but that we just refuse to see.

I’ve been groped. I’ve been objectified. I’ve been underestimated. I’ve been paid less than a man for the same job. I’ve been lip kissed without inviting it. I’ve been cornered in my own office and made to fear for my safety. These are things I buried over the years and thought of as unfortunate, but par for the course as a female. But this is not something that society is growing out of. This issue does not belong to our mothers and our grandmothers, it is ours to address now. I was never physically hurt, so I choked down my anger and moved on, but future generations of women should never be told that that’s “just how it is”.

Hillary is stiff. Hillary is cold. Hillary is measured, calculated, a politician. I don’t care. Hillary is prepared. Hillary is smart. Hillary has experience. Hillary has made hard choices her whole life. We’re not electing her to feed us lasagna and be America’s grandma. We’re electing her to be our commander in chief. So when people tell me they just don’t like her, I hear nothing. That is not an argument. You don’t like her? Fine. If she ever invites you to dinner at the White House you can decline the invitation. In the meantime I want someone that the rest of the world takes seriously in charge of our country.

It’s ridiculous to consider putting someone with no political experience in the oval office. It’s an important job. You should have Washington experience to do it. You should have world experience to do it, and I don’t think building a golf club for overprivileged white men on international soil counts as experience on the world political stage. If you fuck up a clubhouse, no one dies in a nuclear holocaust.

So yes, once I click “publish” my next stop is hillaryclinton.com. I’m buying myself a lawn sign and some buttons, whatever she’s got. I trust her with the job. I trust that she knows what to say and when to keep her mouth shut and listen to other people’s thoughts and opinions and try to find common ground to achieve the things that the majority of Americans want. There is no perfect candidate. There never will be, but we must start by denying our vote to the bloated, bragging, over-hyped, under-educated man-child with ADD that seeks to degrade reasonable public discourse to the point of baseless, foul-mouthed, angry, sexist, racist sound bites that leave people wondering how the hell we got here.

The president should endeavor to unite the people, not further divide them.

To young people who are voting for the first or second time and are upset that they don’t have a charismatic icon like Obama to cast a ballot for, I say that it’s time to consider what’s actually in front of you. Hillary Clinton, who maybe doesn’t thrill you, but is an experienced and reasonable adult who has spent her life navigating the rough terrain of DC (and has the scars to prove it) and crusading for women and children in need. Or Donald Trump who has flailed, failed and underpaid his way to a place he swears is the top, yet refuses transparency on his end while denigrating the female population and inviting our enemies to mount cyber attacks against our political system. A man you grew up laughing at (yes, “at”, not “with”) on TV, when you weren’t at Macy’s thumbing through racks and racks of his shoddy made-in-China suits and ties. And to vote for a third party candidate in an effort to “vote your conscience” is a waste of your vote, particularly when you consider Gary Johnson’s ignorance on, well, just about everything and Jill Stein’s relative obscurity.

On November 8th I will cast my vote for Hillary Clinton. Not because she is a woman, but because she has the experience and the temperament that befit a leader. She is the best person for the job.

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