By Hannah Brandt
In case you’ve missed it, there is an election this month. It is the California Primary on June 7th. In most presidential election years, by the time the California Primary rolls around, our votes are of little consequence because one nominee for each party is already so far ahead. We know this is the case for the Republicans, as Donald Trump has pushed all of his competitors out. I will get back to that in a minute. But on the Democrat’s side, while Hillary Clinton has a commanding lead, the movement for Bernie Sanders cannot be ignored.
As Progressives, many of us are a part of that movement, but some of us are not. Some of us are Green Party members, others of us are citizens who feel represented by none of the political parties or candidates. Many, but not all of us, have come to the decision that we would not be satisfied with Hillary Clinton presidency. Regardless of where you sit in this circus, you probably feel like you are riding a rollercoaster.
Elections usually do, especially once we get this far into the process. By this point, there has usually been a fair amount of mudslinging, exaggerations, and half-truths. If the past is any indication, that will only increase as we head into the general election. Many Americans from all sides of the political spectrum get fed up every four years and want nothing to do with politics. Progressives usually determine that it is better to exercise the right to vote, though some prefer to work for justice outside the electoral process.
I believe it is fair to say that all of us are concerned that Donald Trump never become president. Regardless of whether his candidacy was launched as joke or dare, the fact he has gotten as far as he has is no joke. It goes without saying that the possibility of such a racist, misogynistic, and incompetent man in the Oval Office would be extremely dangerous. Leaders have emerged on the Right in recent years who have the same values, including other Republican 2016 candidates for president, but no one has condensed this hate so succinctly or threatened to carry out such violent and repressive measures as Trump has.
Most of us have friends and family who say they will move to another country (usually Canada) if he becomes president. Others stay we must stay and fight for our country. As someone with pacifist ancestors who were forced to flee to other countries when their homeland was taken over by authoritarian, militaristic leadership, that doesn’t sound as farfetched to me as to some. I have also lived overseas and have always felt like more of a citizen of the world, than merely the U.S. I was raised in a family that never felt truly represented by presidents because, in the end, they were all Commanders in Chief. I honestly do not know what I would do.
The question so many of us on the Left are asking is what is the best way to defeat Trump? Predictably, we do not agree. Being a woman in my thirties, it has been interesting to see the way Progressives of my age group have responded to the political landscape. It is a bit different than those a bit younger or older. Many more of my friends have been stalwart supporters of Hillary Clinton, than those ten or more years younger than us. Having moved back to Fresno from the Bay Area recently, many of my friends still live there, in arguably the most Progressive part of the state.
I actually do not think this is surprising. We came of age in a Clinton world. I was a freshman in high school when Bill Clinton was elected and graduated from college right before George W. Bush came into office. For us as young women, there were practically no female role models in politics but Hillary Clinton. Many of our college and early job applications cited Hillary Clinton as our role model. Although we lived in California, I remember a few friends proudly displaying Clinton for NY Senate bumper stickers on their cars. She was a lifeline to a generation of girls grasping for examples of smart, strong, independent, and successful women to show that we could be, too.
Of course, this is not 2001 and we are not in our early twenties anymore. The world has changed. And so have we. Hillary Clinton has done and said many things since then, some admirable and some not. Many of us have become disillusioned with Hillary just as we have with many male politicians who might also have been role models. Somewhere along the way, innocence in politics as in all of life, is lost. So we weigh the pros and cons and make our choices.
No matter how you feel about any candidate on the Left, no matter how you see the strategy to defeat Trump, do not think that your voice and your heart and mind do not matter. They do.