To my family spread out across the South along the Gulf of Mexico,
As you know, the nation is going to the polls tomorrow to elect, among other things, the President of the United States. I know you’ll vote, you always have. You taught me that my right to vote is a precious gift that I should never take for granted. Even though I haven’t seen many of you since leaving home in the 1980s, I want you to know that I have never taken this privilege for granted. Even when my life was seemingly in ruins, I always remembered how important it was for me to have my say and cast my vote at election time.
And for many years, I voted the same as you. Because you taught me that a conservative path was the steadiest.
But then I got my life together and ended up going to college where the one thing I learned above all else was how we are all connected to each other. And how every decision we make as we go through life has an effect on someone else. After that epiphany, and because there was something about Bill Clinton that I didn’t trust, I voted for Ross Perot for President. Twice. He was a Texan, and a great businessman, and I thought that he had better ideas than the other candidates.
But Clinton won, and, despite his indiscretions, the nation flourished for eight years. In 2000, I voted for a Democrat for President for the first time in my life. Like my votes for Perot, that candidate lost too. And because a Republican won, most of you were very happy. Only, the nation did not flourish under two terms of that President. In fact, virtually everything that mattered to the majority of Americans got worse. Sure, it wasn’t all his fault. A President doesn’t have that much power, as it turns out. In retrospect, I believe George W. Bush was a good man. I’ve even grown to like him since he left office.
In 2008, I voted for a black man for President. I noticed that the states most of you live in voted for his opponent. And that’s ok. You taught me early on that our nation needs more than one view of the world for us to prosper. I also voted for Obama in 2012. Not because I am a Democrat (I’m not, I’m a registered Independent), and not because he’s black, but because I trusted him and thought that his ideas were better than his opponent. And, when you consider how much he’s accomplished with almost no support from Congress, I think it’s pretty remarkable that the nation has flourished.
I do not expect for this note to change your mind on who you vote for tomorrow. If there’s one thing I know about you, despite the miles and time that separate us, it’s that you’re staunch Republicans.
That said, I didn’t wait until the second Tuesday of November to cast my vote this time around. Last week I voted for Hillary Clinton. Not because she’s a woman. Not because she’s a Democrat. I voted for her because I believe she has better ideas than Donald Trump. And, unlike Ross Perot, Donald Trump is not a successful businessman—despite the fact that he had a reality TV show and despite what he screams from his podium.
If you want to know the truth, I don’t actually like Hillary Clinton. I was a Bernie Sanders supporter. I realize that me voting for a Jewish man from the North is probably a little shocking for you, but Sanders had great ideas that would’ve positively affected the majority of Americans. But party politics got in the way of Bernie’s bid for President and they nominated Clinton instead. I was pretty disappointed.
Despite his longevity in office, I felt that Bernie Sanders was the least political politician I’d ever seen. Like Trump, he wanted nothing to do with the status quo in Washington. And while I too would like to see our government shaken to the ground for the good of the people, I am certain that a man like Trump is in no position to effectively dismantle the government. Not in a productive way, that is.
I’ve heard Donald Trump supporters all over the country justify his remarks/beliefs about women, gays, handicapped people, blacks, hispanics, Muslims, Jews, and anyone who is not a white Christian with the cry that, “He’s an imperfect man.” Indeed he is. Granted, Hillary Clinton is no angel either, but she’s closer to the center than Donald Trump. And the center is where progress happens. Not on the right. Not on the left. In the center.
I was not excited to vote for Hillary Clinton. In fact, I was pretty pissed to spend a vote on a candidate I didn’t particularly like as a way to keep a madman from the nuclear codes. Had you guys voted in Rubio or Kasich or anyone other than Trump, I might have voted Republican again. They would have at least had actual ideas on how to keep our nation moving in the right direction. Because, despite Trump’s mantra, we are still a great nation.
No, the United States of America will never again be a place where white people have the most privileges while other ethnicities suffer. We’re growing up as a nation. Our forefathers knew that the idea of “freedom” was not exclusive to one ethnic group, one religion, or just heterosexuals. That’s why the Constitution is written the way it is. Diversity is our greatest strength as a nation. They knew this hundreds of years ago. It’s time we did too.
There’s a good chance that Donald Trump will win the election tomorrow. And that makes me sad. I get it that we’re a nation divided upon itself and that all the partisan bickering has already cost us dearly when it comes to moving the country forward. But we have to grow up at some point. This nation will never be run by one ideology. But you know who does believe in one ideology to rule? ISIS.
We are not ISIS.
America is a great nation. You taught me that at an early age. You told me that it’s the greatest nation on earth and that we’re lucky to live here and you instilled in me a sense of patriotism that made my decision to serve my nation in the armed forces an easy one. You also taught me about fairness for all. And how to be a decent person. You taught me that telling the truth was paramount, and that your word was your bond. You taught me how to treat others with respect, regardless of their skin color, gender, or religion. You taught me the value of hard work. You taught me how to be kind and tolerant. And mostly, you taught me that my actions always speak louder than my words.
And for all those things, I’m eternally grateful. Because those were important lessons to a little boy growing up in a melting pot. Those lessons are what helped shape the man I am today. And because of those lessons, I cannot bear to see a man like Donald Trump, who represents the antithesis of all those things, pull you down with him because of party politics. You’re smarter than that. You’re better than that. Please, at this the 11th hour, please consider the consequences of your actions. Put all the feelings you have for Clinton aside for just a moment and try to see the truth. Donald Trump has latched on to your anger and fanned those flames into a roaring fire without any policy to speak of, without any support from any legitimate groups (on either side of the political aisle), and without any good ideas. He’s a white man born into wealth with a big mouth and a microphone. If he were running against Reagan for the GOP nomination, you’d have hung him out to dry long ago. If he were a neighbor down our street growing up, you’d have instructed us kids to avoid his house at all costs.
Because you know better.
Please consider for once in your life to put down the flag of a party and vote for the nation as a whole. Once this election is over, you can go back to fighting for another chance a few years from now. Just please next time nominate someone who can actually help take our country in the right direction with actual policies. I’d definitely be willing to hear any ideas that move our nation forward. And maybe then I’ll join you again on the Republican side.