Monday, October 10, 2016

Parenthood: Week 173 - Dear Son, Why I'm Voting For Hillary, Election 2016

Dear Ollie,

The world is opening up to you every single day and you are doing a great job exploring the world, asking great questions, and we are so proud of you. There are things that I show you that you are not aware of like that beautiful dew-covered spider-web in our back yard or how to make French toast to broaden your understanding of the world, but there are some things that will have to wait.

The things that I keep from you, I hold back because your brain and your heart aren’t quite developed enough. We gave you time to learn how to walk before introducing your tricycle, and we will give you time to deepen your understanding of the human condition before talking with you about more mature subjects. We do this because as parents, it’s our job to protect you. Know that any feeling that you have that I am overprotective of you that may cause you frustration is a sign of love.

The other reason that I don’t talk to you about certain things is because I’m not ready.  For example, you’ve asked me about your skin color and talked to us about how you have different colored hair than me and your mom, but I’m not ready to tell you how these differences will make your life more joyous and more difficult.

I don’t feel ready to talk to you about this election, but I feel that it is important that I try, not for you as a 3 year-old but for some moment later in the future when you ask me how I felt during the election of 2016.

We live in a pluralistic society. This means that people can express different views and opinions. This freedom, which enriches our lives, also creates tension. Many of us are ok with people being different, while others, unsure of the decisions they make look for strength by trying to convince others that they are wrong. There is no strength to be found by telling others that they are wrong, strength comes from acknowledging our doubts, and being open to what is different.

It is very hard to know how to be accepting of America’s pluralism while also fighting for justice and freedom. Throughout American history, people in our country have exploited those who appear to be weaker. Groups of people have fought against the freedom of others to maintain comfort in traditions that oppress. Insecurity, greed, and fear continue to motivate many people to believe that they have more to lose than gain by expanding freedom and opportunity to all people.

These forces, these groups of people will always be present in American and will always be wrong. Plantation owners didn’t look at the pain of their slaves and decide to free them. Factory owners didn’t decide to value the lives of children and not allow them to work in dangerous working conditions. Industry didn’t look at the pollution in waterways and regulate their output of waste. And heterosexual Caucasian people, on their own, did not look at the love between people who didn’t have the same skin color and people of the same gender and fight to ensure that they had the legal rights to marry.

All of these freedoms that we have gained did not come from those who would exploit and those who would discriminate. The story of America is the story of individuals and small groups of people who fought and died against forces driven by the darkness in their hearts. The story of America is not done because right now in the election of 2016, these forces are still at play and individuals are fighting for freedom.

More than anything else, my votes this election are about who is truly fighting for freedom and who is trying to maintain the status quo, which needs to continue to improve.

The Republican Party is filled with compassionate, patriotic, empathetic and hard-working Americans. However, a vocal group of people (who I believe is the minority of the party), whose desire to go back to a time when minorities had less rights. Bill O’Reilly, an entertainer, which many people view as a journalist recently featured a grossly racist segment about Asian Americans. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory continues to fight a law that discriminates against people who are transgender.  And the Republican Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump, throughout his adult life and all through the election says sexist and misogynist comments about woman, objectifying them and trivializing the feelings and struggles of women in America.

I want to believe that the vast majority of Republicans do not agree with the racism, trans-phobia and sexism that these three men express through their words and their actions. The reason I “want to believe” but cannot state that I know for a fact that the vast majority of Republicans believe in the rights and freedoms for all Americans is because these three men, O’Reilly, McCrory and Trump have been raised into positions of power by other Republicans and have not been rejected by their party as a whole for the hateful, racist and hurtful comments.

The Democrat Party is also filled with compassionate, patriotic, empathetic and hard-working Americans. Democrats like many Republicans want freedom and equality for all. They have proved this through actions like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, the first bill that President Obama signed which helped ensure equal pay for woman in the workplace. The Affordable Care Act, which brought health insurance to millions of Americans, was the work of Democrats.  And this year, in response to gun violence Rep. John Lewis led sit-in on the house floor to bring attention issue of gun control.

There are flaws in the Democratic Party. While social programs, which are an expression of our humanity and empathy, are important, they need to be improved and spending associated with these programs needs to be carefully examined. The Affordable Care Act was a great first step, but the health system in our country continues to be convoluted. While the Democrats have made statements about issues related to racism and gun violence, they have been ineffective in creating policies that have significantly improved these problem. These flaws show places from improvement, which lie in effectiveness of actions, not in the hearts and intentions of Democrats.

Hillary Clinton, like President Obama represents a movement towards a more inclusive country that values its diversity.  She has a depth of experience professionally and personally that provides her with a unique perspective that we have never had before in the White House.  Clinton has continued to work to improve the lives of others, keeping in perspective her privilege while fighting for the rights of others.

This is why I’m a Democrat. I will not vote 100% for Democrats on my ballot but the majority of the people I vote for will be members of the Democratic Party.  And I will continue to proudly identify as one.

Ollie, this land was not made for you and me, but individuals have shaped this country against great resistance into a place where the majority of Americans embrace me as the son of an immigrant and you as a mixed-race child. We must keep moving in that direction because without actively fighting for diversity and inclusiveness in the American experience, we could lose the freedoms that led to your very existence.

I love you more than I can express. I didn’t think that I could ever feel more love than I felt when I first held you, but I do, because every single day you have been in my life, my love for you has grown. When I think about politics and who I vote for, I think about you and what my choices mean for your life.  Hillary Clinton's vision of America is a world not ruled by fear, but motivated by hope and this is a world I work every day to build for you.

As I'll always be with you, for this election, I’m with her.


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