How to Feel Better About Voting for Hillary

One word, many applications: discern.

Discern Between the Politics and the Politician

We the people have created such a polluted political system in which politicians are basically required to twist themselves into verbal contortionists in ways that, at once, boggle the mind and, weirdly, mollify the masses. When then-candidate Bill Clinton was running for president in 1992 and uttered the now-famous “I didn’t inhale” line, I thought he was being ridiculous. More than that, however, I thought he was being ridiculous because he was a product of our ridiculous politics, a system in which we the people were basically telling him we wouldn’t elect him if he had inhaled, but since he said he hadn’t, even though nobody believed him, we would vote for him. Grownups? Anywhere?

When I graduated college and entered the workforce in New York City via a global conglomerate with thousands of employees all over the world, job one was not learning my job, job one was learning exactly what the rules of the road were and sussing out what it was going to take to navigate them. I was swimming in a horde of people at the base of a pyramid and there was no way I wasn’t going to get myself to the apex. I would do it as swiftly and with as much dexterity as I could muster. I would ingratiate; I would out-perform; I would position myself. I’m pretty sure we call that being smart, ambitious, and, um, politic.

We need look no farther than the Republican party in the last month or so to see some really good examples of this absurd dynamic on full display today. Twenty-five years later (and yes, I know, it didn’t start 25 years ago), the nominee for president pretty much refuses to follow the rules of the road and now that he’s in a general election, is beginning to pay a heavy price for it. Then he delivers a “teleprompter speech” in which he follows the rules just a little bit and everyone calms down just a little bit. When the junior senator from Texas delivered a prolonged wind-up of a speech at the Republican national convention in July and would not conclude with an endorsement of his party’s nominee, he was booed of the stage and has taken considerable heat for his audacious slight. Yet had he offered the endorsement, the audience made clear they would have been completely mollified even if they didn’t believe what he might have said. On the other hand, the verbal (not to mention facial/physical) contortions of Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator John McCain (among others), politicians who clearly have disdain for their nominee, believe they can’t say so because of the risk of alienating said nominee’s supporters.

To be clear, each and every politician makes choices every step of the way. When it was me in that corporate setting, it didn’t take long to see the writing on the wall. I realized early that I would only go so far in that career because, at a certain point, I would no longer be willing to “do what it takes.” That was my choice, but I would have been hailed as a typical American business success story if I’d continued on the path I was on even if it meant having done some things along the way I didn’t feel so good about. It would have made zero difference to anyone who would have seen me as a success. I have endeavored and will continue to endeavor to do my part to change the politics in this country, but I won’t blame smart, ambitious, politic politicians for doing what it takes to succeed in a polluted system that they, alone, did not pollute.

If we don’t like the politics, that’s on us. We created this money-drenched, special-interest, multi-headed monster and if we ever decide to be about the business of creating something different, the first step will be to take responsibility for what we already created. But with miles to go before that new reality takes hold, we mis-place our anger and frustration about the politics when we direct it at a particular politician. It’s hypocritical and it’s extraordinarily counter-productive.

When I discern between the politics and the politician, I feel better about voting for Hillary.

Discern Between Conjecture and Facts

When I just wrote that Speaker Ryan and Senator McCain “clearly have disdain” for the Republican nominee for President, that was pure conjecture. I don’t know that at all and it can’t be a fact until and unless either or both cop to it themselves. It is, perhaps, an educated guess on my part based on watching them speak repeatedly, in many different situations, but it’s conjecture nonetheless. You may very well agree and jump on my bandwagon, as it were, but we will still all be conflating fact with conjecture. I did it on purpose to make a point that we shouldn’t fall for it, even though it is thrown at us 24/7.

Eschewing the dismal state of our fourth estate for the time being, there are three things we citizen voters can do with regard to this conundrum:

1. We can seek out journalists and commentators (something more to discern between) of news that we trust. And we must then assess our trust of their employers, commercial or otherwise. Some of what they report is fact; much is not.

When I ingest information from sources I (reasonably) trust, I feel better about voting for Hillary.

2. We can listen to the testimonies of those who know and have worked with the candidates, seeking patterns and repetitions of experiences that give us a picture of a that we might not otherwise get. In this realm I suggest one err on the side of going completely overboard in terms of collecting such testimonies. Once we have them, the best we can do is to listen to our own inspiration for what feels right in our own guts. It’s not quite pure fact, but it can be pretty close.

When I feel in my gut the validity of the testimonies of a wide range of reputable people who have known and worked with her over the course of several decades, I feel better about voting for Hillary.

3. We can get really good at recognizing facts. Let’s practice right now. America will elect a new president on November 8, 2016. Fact? No. It hasn’t happened yet so it cannot be a fact. America is slated to elect a new president on November 8, 2016. Fact? Yes. It’s true. That is the plan. Citizens who will be eligible voters on election day have choices about what to do about said presidential election. Fact? Indeed. The Republican nominee has no experience working in government or as an elected office holder. Fact? Fact. The Republican nominee has been losing support nationally and in key states since becoming the nominee as evidenced by a wide range of current polling. Fact? Fact. Dozens of foreign policy and national security experts from the Republican side have made clear they cannot/will not support their own nominee and several have said they would vote for Secretary Clinton. Fact? Fact. The Republican nominee said that Secretary Clinton wants to abolish the second amendment. Fact? Fact. He said it. But what he said is not factual at all. Secretary Clinton has said no such thing and it happens to be a fact that neither a president nor a Supreme Court can nullify a constitutional amendment, even though the Republican nominee says she will and suggests they can. Prominent Republican office-holders have said they cannot/will not support their own nominee even if they haven’t stated a voting preference. Fact? Fact. Hillary Clinton is widely seen as untrustworthy, as evidenced by a consistent array of polling since she began her 2016 bid for the presidency: fact. Hillary Clinton is unlikable and untrustworthy: not a fact. Hillary Clinton has more government and political experience than any other person who has ever run for the office: fact. Hillary Clinton has been widely seen as competent, smart, effective, and well-liked by office-holders and cabinet appointees from both parties who have worked closely with her: fact. Hillary Clinton is well-regarded by a wide swath of foreign leaders and dignitaries: fact.

When I discern between conjecture and facts, I feel better about voting for Hillary.

Discern Between What Is and What Is Wanted

I don’t know about you, but I want the United States to have a functional government that most people feel good about. I want the world to see us as functional. I want political parties — perhaps more than two, even — that are free of domination by monied interests and establishment politicians. I want to see wide ranges of qualified candidates vie to become nominees of said parties for president (and all offices) and for them to win their nominations based on the power of their ideas and positions. I could go on.

Let’s say more than just me was willing to approach this from a consciousness perspective. Anyone? Part of our job would be to set shiny, clear intentions for the breadth and depth of what that all looks like, a project for another day (though it can’t come too soon). But another part of our job would be to take responsibility for what is, accept it all without judgment, and make our choices from that place. That is what it means to be present in this milieu.

When I accept things as they are I see two disliked “major party” candidates with more baggage than a Boeing 777 Dreamliner who are not, in my opinion, standard bearers for the kind of compassionate, life-affirming, opportunity-expanding, planet-saving kind of change I’d like to see our country undertake. I also see two “third party” candidates who don’t inspire any desire in me to support their campaigns. I see an electorate craving more than what they’re offered and being unwilling to take responsibility for any of it.

When I discern between what is and what is wanted, I feel better about voting for Hillary.

Discern Between the Parties and the Government

We have to discern between the political parties and the processes they create to select their nominees for president (and all offices) and the elections of said nominees/candidates to local, state, and federal office.

I was blown away as the primaries got underway earlier this year by how many people I talked to — mostly those who were feeling the Bern — who were dismayed by the process that Democrats had for selecting their candidate for president. It was news to them that super delegates were a thing. It was news to them that a cohort of “establishment” Democrats could still hold sway over much of the process and that the process may not be entirely democratic in the purest sense of the word with one person, one vote, one winner. It was news to them that the party was essentially asking their opinion, but didn’t really have to do anything with said opinion. It was news to them that large numbers of super delegates in 2008 shifted their support from Clinton to Obama even when virtually none were inspired to do so this year from Clinton to Sanders. They were dismayed by the power of the state- and local-level parties to have caucuses or primary elections or to allocate their delegates this way or that.

Fight all you want to change that system, but don’t conflate it with an actual election because it isn’t one, even if the parties use the government’s election apparatus in a way that is confusing AF. Bottom-line, Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, American Independents and any other political party in the United States can choose their candidates as they see fit. I personally bemoaned the lack of depth and breadth of the Democratic field this year. It’s a pathetic result of an establishment party woefully lacking in creativity and modernism. It’s why I’m not a Democrat, but it’s not Hillary’s fault any more than it’s Senator Sanders’ fault or Governor O’Malley’s fault or Senator Webb’s fault or Governor Chafee’s fault. It’s the fault of Democrats and, to a larger extent, the American people.

As a California resident, I “Decline to State” a party preference. I feel strongly that if pretty much all of us did the same thing, the parties would have to effort to bring us back and we would wield tremendous power in the process. Maybe we would even break the two-party system that, in modern times anyway, only seems to benefit the two “major parties.” But that’s just me and I digress.

When I discern between the parties and the government, I feel better about voting for Hillary.

Discern Between Party and Country

What is more important to you, party or country? The seemingly-growing number of former and current Republicans who cannot bring themselves to voice support for or, in many cases, even vote for their presidential nominee, is an example of people who are putting country before party. They are, in many if not most cases, stalwart Republicans who have come to believe, generally speaking, that their own nominee for president represents a threat to our democracy, national security, and our place on the world stage as the sole super power. People willing to sacrifice something — victory by and political power for their own party — in favor of something bigger — voting for the candidate of another party for the good of the country — are true patriots. I’m happy to call Senator Lindsey Graham and all others in this category true patriots for the stances they have taken.

When I think about what’s best for our country I feel better about voting for Hillary.

Discern between elections and this election.

An election is not an election is not an election. Choosing whom to vote for at any level in any given election can vary from year to year, at least for those of us who are not die-hard partisans, always voting for the members of one party, regardless of anything else.

In years past, I have often voted “strategically” for candidates to help them with ballot access or to make a statement of some sort, particularly at the federal level. Sometimes I’ve voted for a candidate who had no way of winning because it was the person I liked best and I was willing to let the chips fall where they may. No doubt, my votes in many elections would have been different if I’d lived in Florida or Ohio and not California.

But because this year’s Republican nominee for president, to my mind, represents such a danger to our society, our economy, our discourse, our national security, and our place on the world stage, I’ve come to believe that nothing short of a resounding, nationwide repudiation of the candidate and everything he stands for will help our country to move forward, to change in life-affirming, positive ways, and to be positioned to create a baseline sense of order in the process.

When I discern between elections and this election, I feel better about voting for Hillary.