Last night, as I sifted through stories of Hillary Clinton’s emails and the now nearly deadlocked national polls, I realized for the first time that next week Donald Trump could actually be elected president of the United States.
Allowing this thought to sink in made me feel physically ill.
This election cycle has been emotionally torturous: As a society, we have so much at stake; we have so much to lose if Donald Trump becomes our president.
We must elect Hillary Clinton on November 8.
As a disclaimer, I am no "day one" Hillary Clinton supporter. I voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, and given the choice, I would make the same decision again. I am much more left-leaning than Hillary Clinton, and I do not always agree with her policy decisions.
I have taken issue with some of her outspoken stances over the years. I dislike her "superpredators" comment from 1996, and I dislike the fact that she didn’t voice her support of same-sex marriage until 2013, after she had spent more than a decade speaking against it. I dislike that she is not speaking out against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and I dislike the degree to which her campaign is funded by super PACs.
So no, I am not some person who believes Clinton is infallible. A year ago, she was not even my choice for president.
With that being said, it is now of dire importance that we elect Hillary Clinton into office. She may not be the pinnacle of progress, but the false equivalence that has developed in comparing her to Trump is truly terrifying.
I do not want to live in an America where "law and order" justifies unarmed people of color being gunned down by the police; I do not want to live in an America where Muslims are deemed terrorists; I do not want to live in an America where women are not allowed to make decisions about their own health and bodies; I do not want to live in an America where LGBTQ people cannot get married and aren’t legally protected from discrimination; I do not want to live in an America where climate change is scoffed at and where it will not be fought against before it is too late.
Do I believe that all of these attitudes will magically disappear when Hillary Clinton becomes president?
No, I don’t.
Yet I believe Hillary Clinton wants to at least keep pushing in a forward direction. I believe that she cares about progress and that she would at least acknowledge protests with support for progressive causes. I believe that she will to some degree listen to the voices of people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
I believe that Hillary Clinton understands the general direction that many young people hope to follow, and I believe that overall, she identifies as a progressive human being.
The man she is running against is not.
The man she is running against is looking backward; he wants to make America great again.
The history of our nation is rife with genocide and slavery; it is rife with oppression along racial lines, maintained with violence.
So, I wonder, what "great America" would he like to reestablish?
Would he like to bring slavery back? Or maybe just Jim Crow? Would he like to take away suffrage from black people or women? Would he like to return to a time when women were forced to perform potentially fatal abortion procedures at home? How about a time when LGBTQ people were forced to express their love in the shadows or otherwise be subject to violence or death?
No matter what historical periods or societal characteristics to which Trump alludes, none of it is good.
We certainly need to acknowledge our national past, if we ever hope to make amends. We need to not shy away from speaking about such realities as the genocide of Native Americans, slavery, segregation, mass incarceration, and police violence if we hope to begin to heal the wounds from the past and prevent further injuries to various identity groups.
There is no need to reinstate the policies that scarred before; there is no need to regress.
Diversity is what makes the United States of America beautiful.
Those who are fighting for white supremacy, lower taxes on extreme wealth, and the oppression of people who do not fit the description of the founding fathers are fighting a losing battle.
Wealth inequality will be reformed; climate change will be fought against; human rights will prevail.
For these things to happen, as a progressive people, we need to elect Hillary Clinton to office on November 8, and start pressuring her to push forward on the day she assumes office.
These times are scary, but they are not without hope. We cannot elect a monster like Donald Trump, and then not be considered monsters, too.
Hillary Clinton is the not the perfect choice for president, but she is the right choice. Electing Hillary Clinton president will not set us back; electing her to office is not going to solve our societal inequality, but it will allow us to continue on the path we are already on; it will allow us to keep the power to effect the changes we want, to use our voices to make America the remarkable place I believe in my heart it can be.