A Young Millennial Woman’s Plea For Strong American Values

My parents, who are approaching 70, were raised in Italian-American and Irish-American households. My father received a Catholic education from pre-K through graduate school. He is a Vietnam War vet, an accountant, a cancer survivor, and staunch Republican. He can be a bit of a homophobe, is sometimes racist, and thinks the Clintons should be in prison. For the last 6 presidential elections, I am fairly certain he has written in “John McCain” on his ballot. On November 7th, 2016, he will not be voting for Donald Trump.

My mother is a special ed teacher living with rheumatoid arthritis; a mother to three highly educated daughters, and grandmother to four amazing grandchildren. Her grandparents were immigrants who went from Lower East Side tenements to the storied suburbs of Westchester. Her mother was born mere months before the 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote, was ratified. She herself was born before people of color had the right to vote and came of age in a time when it was controversial for women to wear pants or strive to move anywhere beyond secretarial work in the corporate world. A recently married, young mother of one, she watched as the courts decided in the case of Roe v. Wade. A decade later, as a recently widowed, single mother of two, she watched as numerous cases were fought and won regarding gender discrimination and sexual harassment.

Today, we all must watch as a lifetime of progress is threatened.

My parents raised me to be smart, strong, and most importantly, to feel safe. In mere months, I have begun to question my place in our country as an intelligent, determined, young woman. I value family, friendship, loyalty, honesty, personal responsibility, individual liberty, and freedom for all mankind. I also value the common good, creativity, uniqueness, balance, and ethics. I support higher taxes, regulated welfare, a woman’s right to choose, marriage equality, limited military intervention, and the gradual elimination of coal and oil as energy sources. I did not simply come to these beliefs through “liberal rhetoric” or coercive parenting — I came to these beliefs through 24 years of watching, reading, and listening.

Hillary Clinton stands for educating children — even in the poorest communities, helping mothers receive adequate healthcare, childcare, and financial support — as a working mother herself, increasing jobs, decreasing higher education costs, reforming the tax code, strengthening our international relationships, strategically attacking terrorism, implementing sensible gun control, enforcing environmental regulations, and so much more.

Donald Trump stands for xenophobia — against Mexicans, Muslims, and all other non-white, Christian citizens and immigrants, perpetuating gender roles, misogyny, and rape culture, increasing national debt, decreasing national safety, strengthening tax loopholes, weakening our international relationships, reinforcing stereotypes, denying the science behind global climate change, and so much more.

America is great because we allow and welcome religious freedom — I’m pretty sure Evangelicalism would have been considered heresy back in Europe.

America is great because we allow and welcome people to speak their mind, conservative or liberal — I’m pretty sure Mussolini (one of Trump’s role models) wanted to put the kibosh on that.

America is great because we allow and welcome writers to publish both facts and opinions — I’m pretty sure Stalin wasn’t a big fan of this.

America is great because we allow and welcome people to protest things that are against their beliefs (even if said beliefs are asinine — looking at you Westboro Baptist Church and Planned Parenthood denouncers) — I’m pretty sure Hitler wouldn’t have been cool with it.

America is great because we allow and welcome citizens to question the government — we even have this thing called the Supreme Court that helps us make big decisions based on a fair and impartial reading of our laws.

Call me conservative, but I like our Constitution and it’s Amendments.

America doesn’t always get it right — we make mistakes, big and small, all the time. But that doesn’t mean we have to get this wrong.

I’d also like to take a moment to clarify that Hillary Clinton, not Bill Clinton, is running for president. While I personally disagree with a woman remaining married to an unfaithful husband (not to be compared to a man twice divorced, with 5 children from 3 separate wives), I don’t think many Americans would have given her the time of day if she too were divorced. At the same time, I do not think Hillary’s choice to remain married is a sign of weakness — her marriage is complicated, perhaps hypocritical, but ultimately personal. To throw stones at Hillary and Bill, yet ignore Donald and Melania and Marla… and Ivana is the biggest hypocrisy of all. A double standard does not even begin to cover it.

Voting for Donald Trump is voting for someone who does not understand what makes America great. Those who vote for Donald Trump will have to hold themselves accountable for telling their children that misogyny and racism are acceptable behaviors; if you joke about assaulting women in private, it’s okay, so long as you don’t act on it (unless you have the fame and fortune to make it all go away); if you criticize those who are critical of you, you’re right and they’re wrong. If — and only if — your conscience can reconcile a misguided and perhaps misinformed distaste for Hillary Clinton with allowing a man who has spewed disgusting words from his mouth, incited violence, and encouraged exclusion, then I can accept your valid choice to vote for this candidate.

America is great because we value democracy above all else. Come election day, I will proudly cast my ballot for Hillary Clinton. It is the decision I have reached and my choice to do so. I vehemently encourage you to do the same, regardless of political party, because it is your decision and your choice. However, when you are in that booth, filling in that small circle with a big dot, please know that your decisions will affect my choices.