Commentary

5 reasons to vote as if your life depends on it (because it does)

5 reasons to vote as if your life depends on it (because it does)
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Yes, we need food, water and air for life, but as an American in 2016, the level of anxiety and polarization generated can sometimes make you feel like our vote is a life or death decision, doesn’t it? I’m pretty sure we will survive as a nation after November 8 (mostly sure, anyway…), but consider some of what we’ve heard from certain candidates on the trail.

It’s no easy task taking time to consider profound issues that will affect you, the people in your life, and your community if you’re a conscientious voter. Here are five reasons to cast your ballot in 2016 as if your life depended on it.

1. Because you believe in how our country relates to the rest of the world.

Donald Trump has said plenty of terrifying things — gutting NATO, suggesting nuclear proliferation and use is sound policy, to name two, but honestly, this statement he made in his book The America We Deserve, encapsulates the clusterF dead ahead:

“A dealmaker can keep many balls in the air, weigh the competing interests of other nations, and above all, constantly put America’s best interests first. The dealmaker knows when to be tough and when to back off. He knows when to bluff and he knows when to threaten, understanding that you threaten only when prepared to carry out the threat. The dealmaker is cunning, secretive, focused, and never settles for less than he wants. It’s been a long time since America had a president like that.”

I bet you can’t wait to see him on the world stage representing you.

2. Because you don’t need office holders that think they need to police your gender in the public restroom.

Laws like the notorious degrading portion of North Carolina’s HB2 (formally known as “An Act To Provide For Single-Sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom And Changing Facilities In Schools And Public Agencies And To Create Statewide Consistency In Regulation Of Employment And Public Accommodations”) are not only onerous to the humanity of transfolk and gender nonconforming people, it’s bad for business.

In the world of unintended consequences, my dunce governor Pat McCrory and the GOP-led General Assembly didn’t realize their pass-and-signed-in-the-middle-of-the-night bill was going to be this bad for the bottom line – to the tune of $650 million as of October, when CoStar Group pulled 730 jobs and a $250M investment. NC has lost the NBA’s 2017 All-Star Game ($100M), 15 NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference championships ($91M), and 1000+ jobs as PayPal, Deutsche Bank and other companies bailed on expansions in NC.

Don’t elect people as anti-social, backwards and deficient as this.

3. If you’re care about a woman’s autonomy over her body and health and LGBT rights – SCOTUS matters.

When Mike Pence was selected as #2 on the GOP Presidential ticket, he brought as an extreme a view one can hold regarding a woman’s relationship to her doctor regarding medical decisions… He:

  • Opposed federal health coverage that includes abortion.
  • Was against funding for abortion under federal Affordable Care Act plans
  • Wanted to grant the “pre-born” equal protection under 14th Amendment.

How about LGBTQ rights? John Gallagher on Pence:

  • Supports a constitutional amendment to ban marriage equality
  • Signed a bill to jail same-sex couples for applying for a marriage license
  • Wanted to divert funding from HIV prevention to conversion therapy
  • Opposed repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

I guess Pence believes “Making America Great Again by converting, re-closeting, and jailing LGBTQs, and government so small it fits in a woman’s uterus. Sounds nice, quaint, and all-American, huh?

But, you say, what about Donald Trump’s view on the above since he’s at the top of the ticket? He’s been flip-flopping like the wind on the above issues, depending on what crowd he’s addressing or interview he’s giving. But he has been consistent about one thing that does address these civil rights – the next President will nominate possibly three justices to the Supreme Court, and he wants to nominate ones in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

4. If you’re a person of color and want to be able to vote when you go to the polls.

It’s pretty elementary here. After the 2010 midterm elections, also the year of the last census, a good many states found themselves with governments that redrew their districts in interesting, familiar ways, engaging in racial and political gerrymandering to maximize the number of districts with Republican advantage. Again, sorry to say, the “leadership” in my state were so blatantly racist in redrawing that a federal court had to slap North Carolina down.

And what about those voter ID laws that disproportionately affect the poor, those in rural areas, and minorities? Today, 31 states enforce voter identification requirements. Paul Krugman:

“The spirit of Jim Crow is very much alive — or maybe translate that to Diego Cuervo, now that Latinos have joined African-Americans as targets. Voter ID laws, rationalized by demonstrably fake concerns about election fraud, were used to disenfranchise thousands; others were discouraged by a systematic effort to make voting hard, by closing polling places in areas with large minority populations.”

If you are voting as if your life depends on it, pay attention to those down-ballot races. When the rubber hits the road, state and local races are a helluva lot more important in your daily life than the Presidential race.

5. Because you want to live in a country that works through our differences, not one that creates more division and conflict.

Your vote will likely determine whether the United States believes in a united vision with all of its immigrants, native peoples, and  residents of religions part of its fabric. Even people who live in different regions of the country have cultural identities that are often overlooked as a factor in conflicts (hey, I’m a native Southerner, I know that stereotype all too well). We will determine who will hold office as judges, representatives in Congress, all the way up and down the food chain tomorrow. These people should hold civility as near and dear to us as a firm stance on “law and order” or “protecting our borders” is.

The power of your vote is immense; it is your voice. Vote as if your life depends on it, but it matters even more that we live our principles, not stay in friendly echo chambers. Everyone is going to have to roll up our sleeves to get to work creating a better future — and that includes cleaning up the bipartisan corruption in government that feeds off of its self-preservation instincts before the people’s interests.

Gays died by the thousands under Reagan, but can we survive a Trump presidency?

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