By Dena Samuels
Until now, I have been very quiet about the presidential election. This time of year, I am usually canvassing precincts, leafleting neighborhoods, and making phone calls to Get Out The Vote. I’ve been involved with that mission every single presidential election (and many in between) since I became eligible to vote many, many years ago. This year, however, I have been intentionally withdrawn, focusing my activist energies on the BLM movement and speaking about national violence to students in my classroom and on many campuses and in organizations around the U.S.
It’s not that I don’t care who wins the election; far from it. I believe it will do the U.S. a world of good to finally elect a woman to our highest office. And my deliberate apathy signifies nothing against Hillary Clinton. I think she is well qualified to serve in this position. Especially since both President Barack and First Lady Michelle Obama agree.
What has held me back is the lunacy of this election cycle. I have given it as little of my energy and attention as I possibly could. This was very difficult since it is everywhere, on the tongues of everyone, like a spoonful of exceedingly hot soup that can’t help but be spewed across the dinner table. “Can you believe the latest?!”
I believe our society created this man. As one of my students pointed out, he is the epitome of privilege, and yet believes we live in a meritocracy: that anyone can get ahead if they just work hard enough. He is completely oblivious to the deeply rooted legacy of institutionalized oppression and privilege that frames all of our lives; a history that makes the notion of a meritocracy a delusion of the privileged.
Yet somehow, we have held him up as someone who deserves our attention. We have empowered him, emboldened him to vomit whatever hate speech he could fathom all over us. I believe it was simply to see if we would take it, and if there were people out there who would embrace it. Sadly, horrifically, there are. But it is my strongest belief that the more we highlight, speak about, give energy to him (either positive or negative), we are spurring him on.
Consider what might have happened instead if he were laughed off the stage at the beginning? I believe that is what he expected would happen. I think he was/is as surprised as anyone that this has gone on for as long as it has.
My suggestion and what I plan to do in the next few weeks? Get Out the Vote not only for Hillary but also for other local socially just candidates and legislation. Let’s volunteer at our precincts; walk our districts and talk to potential voters to make sure they plan to vote; make calls at a local phone bank; drive someone in your neighborhood to the polls on Election Day. All great ways to get involved! And in the meantime, let’s hold Hillary Clinton up as the next highly qualified president of the United States. And join me in refusing to give Donald any thought, time, attention, or energy. Let him crawl back under the rock we lifted for him.