by Delphine Burns
I hesitate for a moment then start typing with velocity and passion. This article has been lingering in my mind for most of this presidential election, and I think it’s time it is brought to fruition.
Let me start by recognizing my positionality in this country, and in this world. In many ways, I am privileged. I am white, my family is middle class, and I am receiving a wonderful education I am so grateful for at Pitzer. For me, being accepted to Pitzer was a dream come true, because although I am privileged in many ways, there are of course also ways in which I am not. That is the nature of intersectionality, a word I learned and was happy to study during my Pitzer education. Less privileged aspects of my identity exist too, as to some degree they exist in all of us. I am a woman. I grew up in a rural, conservative town in Midwestern, working-class America. I never went to private school before Pitzer, and I work three jobs and am on financial aid just to be able to attend a fancy liberal arts college. I’m also a survivor of sexual assault, and was subjected to much victim blaming and bullying where I grew up. This article is not about me, but I figured I would address my privileges before confronting the issues I intend to address.
As I mentioned, I attended middle and high school in Hays, Kansas. You can look it up. You can read about its political leanings, demographic makeup, and whatever else you wish to learn about Hays. Or I can tell you. Hays, Kansas is predominantly composed of working-class, white, conservative Americans. Throughout middle and high school, I was bullied and exiled for holding and expressing (unapologetically) my beliefs. Like most people at Pitzer, I believe in social and environmental justice. I believe the United States has issues. Our country suffers from systemic racism, benevolent (if not blatant) sexism, income inequality, intolerance and violence toward the LGBTQ community, the prison industrial complex, climate change, and many other crippling and important issues. In Hays, Kansas, if I expressed these views I was mocked if not threatened for holding them. Writing for my school newspaper, I was seemingly incapable of publishing an article that was not controversial. Leading my school’s GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance), I was asked to remove posters advertising our meetings and called into the principal’s office on an almost weekly basis. Only after citing a law guaranteeing all public high schools’ the right to a GSA was I allowed to continue holding meetings in the library. High school was a tough battle, and by the end, I was exhausted. I sought refuge and poured excessive time into preparing for and researching colleges. The dream of going to Pitzer was often the only thing that kept me going when I felt I was constantly under fire for simply being myself.
When I graduated, I couldn’t wait to attend a school where I could rest. I don’t mean I intended to take a break from fighting for what I believe in. I simply yearned for a time in my life when I could fight for what I believe in without being harassed for doing so. I saw Pitzer as a haven for all sorts of people with all kinds of beliefs. I figured there would be much discussion about politics and social justice, because I was going to school with people who genuinely cared and wanted to improve the society we live in. I was right that there would be focus on political justice and social awareness, but wrong that there would be discussion. Occasionally, I witness people with opposing views engaging in conversation and respecting difference in opinion. But normally, I see attacks. I see hostility and anger, which I understand. When issues are close to the heart, there is personal investment. It’s just hard to feel scared to express an opinion for fear of appearing too conservative, or insensitive. I’m not saying it’s not okay to be angry. The issues we face are terrifying, violent, and evil. We should be angry. Just maybe not at each other.
I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I voted for her in the California primary, and I will vote for her again come November. Although I agreed with many of Bernie Sanders’ ideas, he did not earn my vote. I saw him speak in June and got chills from some of the messages he preached; Bernie is an idealist and a change maker, and I love that with all my heart. I shook his hand after his rally, and told him genuinely thank you. Thank you for starting important conversations. Thank you for asking difficult questions. Thank you for inspiring young voters. Thank you for quite possibly dragging Secretary Clinton’s platform to the left. Thank you. However, I have said it once and I will say it again. If I were voting for someone to lead a political revolution, my vote would go to Sanders. If I am voting someone to make change within the current political system and lead our country as president of the United States, Hillary Clinton has my vote.
The system is broken. So incredibly broken. Bernie Sanders is absolutely right when he says money must be removed from politics. However, voting against Clinton will not do that. The president has fewer powers than many people think they do. In Professor Pantoja’s American Politics class, I remember reading a book entitled The Imperial Presidency. This book was essentially making the point that the presidency entails fewer powers than the average American thinks, and that often times historically when a president has made drastic changes, they were overstepping their legal boundary in doing so. If we would like to revolutionize our political system, there is not one candidate we can elect to do so. That belief, to me, is as naïve as Donald Trump saying that he alone is able to fix our country’s problems. He cannot. Bernie Sanders cannot. Hillary Clinton cannot. That is up to us, voting in local and state elections, writing to congress, holding protests, etc. Electing Bernie Sanders would not take money out of politics as much as we’d like to believe it’s that easy. Bernie Sanders is a pretty band aid to cover up the gaping wound of the United States’ oppression, capitalism, and imperialism.
If I crash my car on the side of the road and it is unable to be restarted, ideally I would absolutely love to be given a brand new car right there and then. Bernie Sanders is that new car. He represents a less broken America, capable of new and better policies and lifestyles. Unfortunately, you don’t get a new car by breaking down on the side of the road. You get a new car by saving up, researching what type of car you want, and eventually purchasing it. When your car breaks down, you need a mechanic who knows exactly how that shitty car works and is ready to help you fix it. That mechanic, I believe, is Secretary Clinton. She knows America is in a dark place, but she also knows how to operate it in its current state. She is far overqualified, and has dedicated her life to public service and battling injustice. Just research her records and causes on any political fact-checking website.
I am not even suggesting you vote for Clinton because Donald Trump would be worse and she is “the lesser of two evils.” I’m simply summarizing why I support her. I encourage you to vote (or not vote) for any candidate you please come November. All I ask is for you to educate yourself on the candidates and issues, and to not tear down others who have done the same. My wise friend Nia once told me, “We are all just living our best life.” I try. I am imperfect. So is Hillary Clinton. So are you. Thank you.