A Reader Asks: Why Do I Vote?

by Sharon L. Robinson

Is America a democracy anymore? Two candidates who many do not respect, trust or want have become the only offerings we citizens have to lead our nation in the most unpopular election in memory. I thought that in a democracy we choose the ones we consent to have lead us. Not this time. … But as a voter, I have to make a choice, since I think if one does not vote it is tantamount to giving up the right to do so. The right to choose? Hmm.

Hillary Clinton believes we have problems for which she can offer solutions. She finds our country basically sound and our political system can be corrected with the proper policies that her experience provides. Despite her questionable practices, she has a track record of being rational, which now takes center stage. Defects can be fixed, and she is the one who fixes things. We assume, oddly, in our country that good people make ineffective politicians as a rule. A dirty game may need dirty people, or at least smudged (as opposed to the notion that dirty people make dirty games). The status quo just needs to be tweaked.

Donald Trump’s view is that of a raving madman no sane person could vote for. Trump seems to believe that our present system is corrupt to the core. Rather than political experience in corruption, he offers his as a CEO who knows what he is talking about because he has worked the system himself. He is an insider who is blowing the whistle, but only on those opposing him, not the rich folks like himself.

The choice looks like between someone who sees major problems vividly but does not offer solutions viable to a democracy vs. a candidate who is not likely to solve them as she does not see them as existing in the first place. I sat down with my own agenda to see how they might fit, since I do not fit with either of them.

Suggestions from adults of how things work could include some of mine:
I. Life has meaning far beyond what you can buy or sell; the thrill will be for you to figure out what that is for you.

II. Standing alone is dangerous in life just like it is in school, and is very lonely and harmful to self-confidence; so we need each other. Which makes it too important to just bunch up with the handiest crowd rather than find the right ones.

III. The right way usually is the right way to get what you want; if you hang with people who are mean or brutal, and think it is fun or brave to do wrong things, you will only stunt your growth in limiting your capacities to find what is fun, what really gives you power, and what is holy enough to give your love and life for.

IV. None of these are possible without freedom, which is why we have a democracy where we guarantee each person’s freedom as well as our own; we read all these books to learn how to be the best people we can be to keep our country free when life gets so much harder than you ever think is possible.

V. Our system has three heads with a separate function, and all three are needed for the country to function so that we all can stay free. But, we think differently, we worship differently, we argue and sometimes fight until someone calls the cops. When to agree to go with the crowd and when to stand up against it will always be our greatest challenge.

Here we are, and how shall I vote? I may share concerns with Donald Trump, but his solutions take me to the opposite direction of where I want to see us go. People say he is not sincere and will become practical once in power, and if not, the GOP has put someone they like as vice president for a worst-case scenario. So if voting for Trump, I would have to hope he was lying. That, as an insider, he might make big changes. And if he speaks his truth, I do not agree with much of what he says, as his ways could provoke violence, and for me violence just begets violence. Only the partners change. And knocking things down only looks like a solution to problems as we see them now. As for picking on minorities instead of the “big guys,” I do not think this is a trait I want in a leader.

Hillary Clinton speaking and those supporting her seem to inhabit some world I do not know. It is like listening to someone upset with the table setting while the kitchen is about to catch fire. Theoretical people may need to come out from their gated homes, from gated minds and entrapped souls to learn why people are crying in anguish when a kid is gunned down by mistake or by purpose from a rival kid, or the kids and family of a cop shot deliberately with no mistake. The blood of innocents are running in our streets, and yes there is a big problem.

It is not a loss of respect for police or for authority that is the problem nearly so much as feeling the loss of the human soul in those who rule. That is why outsiders are looking so good. U.S. citizens keep trying to change things not as they were but to regain the essence of who we were. The moral quality or lack of it in each candidate is concerning, but not as much as the lack of it in our system. The spin put on things disconnects. We need a reality check on both sides.

It is hard to keep our country safe from them and ourselves. No way will ever be perfect, and life has never been safe. Yet, let there always be a way for redemption when mistakes are made. If those with political and social power pounce for their own advantage on an error, then it is much less likely to ever be corrected or solved. Winning can often look like losing it all when it comes to values.

Reinstate the law and make all follow it, and make those entrusted with power always accountable and visible. Honesty cuts both ways and can often make errors into steppingstones to something much better. Blame may sometimes be necessary to identify a cause, but it will never be as honorable as hands clasped together to make things better for all to come, for us still learning to dance, and to honor those who are gone.


Sharon Robinson recently moved from Marysville to Blaine. She has worked in the cartoon industry (Underdog), the ACLU office in New York, public relations writing for an international engineering firm, the transit division of the state of Oregon and a PR firm on Madison Avenue. She has published two books of poetry and prefers to listen to the waves and birds of Semiahmoo but finds this love threatened and thus speaks out.


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