After what sometimes seemed like an endless campaign season, the final stretch is in view. The debates, terrorism, Trumpian unpredictability and more Clinton scandals might make these last few weeks even more volatile than usual, but Election Day is approaching. It is time to remember Abraham Lincoln’s words, “With malice toward none.”
I assiduously read comments to my Musings. I regularly read comments to a variety of blogs that I follow. Recently, an article in the Wall Street Journal on the non-controversial topic of postal shipping rates stimulated a slew of comments that were both pertinent and helpful. In contrast, I rarely read comments on sites such as Fox or CNN. Unlike the previous examples, those comments often seem to be dominated by hate-filled, bitter individuals, both on the left and the right. If your window to American culture came through that lens, you would be forgiven for thinking us an unintelligent, vulgar society.
Personally, I am of the opinion that our nation is in serious trouble. I thought that the election of 2012 was a moment of crisis and am not convinced that historians looking back one hundred years from now will not say that the results pushed us off a steep cliff. At the same time, I had little confidence that a Romney victory would be anything more than a brief pause on a dangerous path. Nevertheless, by getting another four years, Barack Obama, who promised hope and change in 2008, delivered even more change that left many Americans on all sides of the political divide feeling hopeless.
Most of my friends, not surprisingly, affiliate as conservatives. Among those, this year, are some who passionately loathe Trump and even some who are supporting Hillary. Some of these people are public figures and, while I disagree vehemently with their choice this election, I have been severely pained reading the comments on their articles and Facebook pages. While I appreciate the reasonable and cogent words of some who comment, both in support of and opposition to the expressed views, the vitriol and hatred of others appalls me. I realize that there is no gatekeeper, allowing everyone to have their say, but nonetheless it is disheartening to read. (This is clearly not a conservative issue; similar vulgarity and animus is directed toward any liberal who supports Trump.)
One of the many reasons I am voting for Trump over Clinton, is because she openly states a desire to continue the repression of free speech that has been occurring in this country. Yet, claiming that the only motivation one can have for disagreeing on issues, no matter how important, is because someone is a turncoat and traitor, makes a mockery of free speech as well. I sometimes wonder where I would have stood at other pivotal points in history. Would I have been a Whig or a Tory in the days leading up to the Revolutionary War? Would I have seen John Brown as hero or rogue in 1859? Would I have supported or opposed FDR’s expansion of government programs? I honestly do not know.
If Hillary Clinton is elected, I fear that those who are either voting for her or not voting against her will have trouble facing themselves in the mirror. If Donald Trump is elected, I fear that those of us voting for him or not voting against him may face the same fate. The choice is horrendous and none of us knows the future. Barring cataclysmic events, I have made my decision based on what I see as certain calamity vs. potential disaster. I even have a ray of hope that, in a way that Romney, Jeb Bush and the like would be unlikely to deliver hopeful change, the out-of-the box Trump might, by the grace of God, do so.
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