By Raul Carranza
It’s election day and I am terrified. Are you?
I know a lot of you aren’t. I know a lot of you see little to no difference between HRC and Trump, or at least you say you don’t. For the life of me, I don’t understand why.
You have one candidate who you have policy differences with and another who you have major policy differences with and would never leave alone with any of your relatives, let alone the nuclear codes. One candidate who’ll probably appoint a moderate supreme court justice versus a candidate who’ll definitely appoint a far right justice that will finish unraveling every civil right victory in the past 50 years. Not to mention all the lower courts, which create significantly more policy than the Supreme Court.
I took a class on the Voting Rights Act in my senior year. My professor was great, I’d taken him in 2 other classes, but this was his first time teaching the class and you could tell. He was a young upper-class white guy lecturing about a mainly black and female struggle. He was also the only professor in the PoliSci department to ask the dean to let him create a class dedicated to the VRA because it was that important. And the one thing I will never forget is what he said on the first day: If I teach you nothing else in this class, is that if you choose not to vote, you should feel embarrassed. People friggin’ died for the right to vote. They got lynched, tortured, beaten, raped, and murdered for that right. And not voting is a slap in the face to the people that won you that right.
The only thing I would add to that is this — It’s also a responsibility. A responsibility not to your country, but to your fellow citizens. Your vote is not there to make you feel good. It’s there to give you power, as insignificant as you may think it is, it is still power and, in exercising that power, you have to decide: What would be the best outcome for the greatest number of people? Is it trying to get matching federal funds for a party who, for the past 20 years, has shown a complete inability to build any kind of political power? Is it to support a candidate that wants to dismantle every social program under the sun? Or is it to choose a career politician over a raving lunatic because at least she’s accountable to the left.
I, for one, will hold my nose and vote for Hillary. I disagree with her on many issues, but she won’t give license to white nationalists to terrorize minorities. She won’t rubber stamp every budget cut, tax cut, deregulation, and pro-gun bill Paul Ryan proposes.
So before you go into that booth, ask yourself: What responsibilities do I have to my neighbors? To my community?
And if you think that there’ll be no difference between President Trump and President Clinton; If you think it’ll make no difference in your life then good for you. But go talk to my sister who was recently called a spic. Go talk to any undocumented immigrant. Go talk to any Jew, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Buddhist, or any person of color for that matter. So when you say that you’re going to vote your conscience, really think about what that means. When you say that you would rather blow up the system than keep it going for another 4 years, think about all the people that depend on that system — shitty as it is. I am one of those people. I, like many others, depend on this system to live. This election represents an existential threat to me. That wasn’t the case in 2012 or 2008.
The battle doesn’t end at the ballot box and I hope I at least made you think about your decision.
Raul Carranza was born in Chula Vista with Muscular Dystrophy. He holds a degree in Political Science with a focus on American Politics and is now pursuing his JD from the University of San Diego School of Law. He was also involved in Occupy and organized a number of protests and rallies.