Not since the election of 1860 has our choice in president promised so great an impact on our nation’s identity, its safety, and perhaps even its democracy. During the conventions this week and last, the Democrats and Republicans put forward the most fundamentally different visions of our future in modern history.
Where Jeff Sessions offered hate, Cory Booker offered love. Where Rudy Giuliani spoke of fear, Michelle Obama spoke of hope. In Cleveland, the themes were cynicism and terror; in Philadelphia, pride and optimism. One convention constituted a sea of white; the other, a slice of American diversity. Looking around my beautifully heterogenous campus, only one party represents the America I know and want.
Donald Trump is an existential threat to our country. Hillary Clinton, despite her flaws, must be elected. As a result, her presidency may be less about what she accomplishes than what she prevents, and we have an essential role to play in that prevention. Legitimate accusations of system-rigging aside, the presidential election really is decided by the votes of those who bother to show up. This is especially important in the swing states that count in 2016: Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Iowa, Nevada, Colorado, and North Carolina. If you’re not registered to vote, do that now. Seriously, here’s the link.
If you’re from a swing state, register there instead of Massachusetts. Make sure you get an absentee ballot so that you can vote from school on Tuesday, November 8. Don’t miss your state’s deadline or register in the wrong place like I did for the primary. It hurts. And it’ll hurt a lot more if your district goes to Trump because a handful of college kids were lazier than the angry high school dropouts who overwhelming support his demagoguery.
Your vote counts. It’s not just that Trump doesn’t know what he’s doing, whereas Hillary has spent a lifetime preparing for the job (relentless ambition does have its benefits). It’s that Trump’s proposals, where they even exist, aren’t only erratic, they’re dangerously sparse.
Take just one issue that’s particularly relevant to us: education. Hillary proposes that every public university offer the privilege we already enjoy at Harvard: no tuition for families with incomes up to $125,000. Community college would be free, student debt could be favorably refinanced, entrepreneurs could defer their loans, and historically black and Latinx colleges would receive a $25 billion stimulus to remedy lasting inequality. She would pay for this with a 4 percent tax increase on the top 0.02 percent of taxpayers—Americans making more than $5 million each year. Trump, meanwhile, has a single 51-second video: “I will end common core. It’s a disaster.” That’s it. That is his entire position on education.
This utter thoughtlessness extends to LGBTQ rights, where Trump has no position whatsoever, to immigration, where I wish he didn’t have a position. It’s here that Trump’s hatred and the Republican platform stray furthest from the acceptable.
You do not need to be Mexican or Muslim to feel the sting of this injustice. Xenophobia is the antithesis of American exceptionalism, for we are a nation built on immigration. When my father’s grandparents fled an intolerant Russia for Ellis Island, and when my mother’s ancestors settled Boston during the Puritan Migration of the 1630s, they were all immigrants. And when my mother left her home in Australia to study in the United States, she became an immigrant as well. So when I was born in Washington, D.C. in 1996, it was only because America had welcomed my ancestors for hundreds of years that I could call this country home. We must not end that generous tradition in a burst of fear.
There are brilliant and compassionate Republicans, but this year, most are in hiding. There are two sophisticated, well-meaning mainstream parties in the United States, but this year only one showed up. On November 8, we face the clearest choice in the latest chapter of the ancient struggle between acceptance and intolerance, intelligence and incompetence, love and hate. To quote Ted Cruz, “Vote your conscience.” And if you’re not registered yet, get on that.
Nathaniel Brooks Horwitz '18, an inactive Crimson editorial writer, is a molecular and cellular biology and philosophy joint-concentrator living in Leverett House.
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