Coming Out, Politically

Coming Out, Politically

I officially became an Independent last week. I don't regret my decision.

Jochi/Wallpaper Abyss - Alpha Coders

I think it’s time that I shared this. I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while. Everyone needs to know the truth. I’m coming out…as an Independent.

I finally changed my political affiliation last week. I arrived at this point after some very trying times. I was deathly scared about President Obama losing to Mitt Romney, but I was jubilated when he won. I was deathly scared about the prospect of the Democrats getting slaughtered in the 2014 midterms (particularly the Senate), and indeed they were. But after the new Congress started, the sky didn’t fall apart. Sure, Congress was still bad, but life continued. After everyone that happened, and with a lack of inspirational Democrats in tow (with exceptions like the luminous Elizabeth Warren), I just…didn’t want to be a Democrat anymore. I had moved on. I saw that there were alternatives, and a Resurgence on the Left of people making dreams come true. These Democrats weren’t doing it anymore.

The story at first was insufferable. Hillary Clinton finally stopped toying with people and finally released a video announcing her intentions to run for president. Then out of nowhere, a Senator from Vermont named Bernie Sanders announced his intentions to run as well. I had heard of him before, but as time went on, I found hope with Sanders. I had been aware of his political positions before, but as his momentum increased, a true breakthrough was within reach. I like President Obama a lot, but a President Bernie Sanders?

Tragically, it wasn’t to be. As the primary wore on, it became more and more clear that Hillary Clinton would march on to receive the nomination. I admit it, there were long-standing hurdles to overcome (Clinton’s much-storied, if not entirely uncontroversial, bonds with the Black community vs. Sanders’ relatively hard struggle to connect with the community at large) as well as some flaws that Sanders made himself (his kerfuffle with Black Lives Matter protesters, which he eventually came around to fixing). When the reality of him not winning sunk in further, a resignation and bitterness began to take hold.

However, the breaking point for me happened in June. A homophobic man living in Florida got into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando with an arsenal or guns and ammunition, killing almost 50 people and wounding dozens more. It was a shattering moment. It wasn’t just the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, or just the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. It was the worst attack on the LGBT community in U.S. history. This shooting felt different. It was targeted at us.

Still, I had a fear that we would be whitewashed from our tragedy. Somehow, it was already happening. Guardian contributor Owen Jones (who is gay) walked out of a Sky News interview because of the refusal of the host and other interviewee to recognize that this was a homophobic attack. Fortunately, there was a piece of legislation that was introduced (the Equality Act of 2015) that would’ve helped make some areas of life for LGBT Americans equal to everyone else, such as protections from employment and housing discrimination. Even if it didn’t get passed, fighting like hell to try and get it passed would’ve proven to me that the Democrats were our allies and that they understood our problems and would proudly stand with us.

Instead, they did the unforgivable: They didn’t even try. The Equality Act bill was introduced months ago, but the Democrats decided almost from the get-go to plunge head-first into the gun control debate. I completely understand the urge to do so, especially after how even meager gun control reform failed to move forward in the wake of the Newtown shooting. But Orlando was different. LGBT Americans don’t have the kind of protections other people have either already gained or take for granted. The Equality Act was left to gather more dust. To add injury to insult, the Democrats thought it was a good idea to pull out all the stops for meager gun control reforms. A few Senate Democrats launched a filibuster for nearly 15 hours that didn’t involve the Equality Act in any of it. And in the most extraordinarily messed-up way imaginable, the House Democrats staged a sit-in (with the support of other Democrats) with their focus on expanding background checks (not controversial) and banning people who are suspected terrorists from getting guns. That’s right, they pulled out all the stops in the shooting-the-moon chance that they could ban guns from getting into the hands of people on the deeply flawed terror watchlist(s) (including the no-fly list). It was incredible. The perfect moment to definitively be allies for the LGBT community evaporated. After that, something broke inside of me. That was the moment that I stopped supporting the Democratic Party, possibly for good.

After Orlando, it was a nightmare that just didn’t get any better. Bernie endorsed Hillary, and the Dow Jones announced its highest-ever peak on the stock market, both on the same day. The conventions were both disgusting and made the case that there should never be another one for the rest of our history, especially considering that the RNC was like a high school pep rally writ large, and corporations and other interests were tripping over themselves at the DNC. People were fawning over Hillary’s prospects at becoming president, while Trump engaged in senseless attacks at a Muslim family who lost their son in the Iraq War. That was late July.

Then, the schadenfreude began to take hold. Hillary began making one mistake after another, from her speech aiming to separate Trump and his right-wing followers from the GOP (and garnering some praise for it) but instead giving these despicable cretins a larger megaphone than they ever could’ve dreamt of, to the fallout of her pneumonia episode (having pneumonia is awful and a recovery should be respected, but the culmination of decisions regarding it was simply jaw-dropping).

And then, the breakthrough. The first debate was an excruciating affair (thank God for SNL), but uniformity was agreed on one thing: Clinton won the debate. But also, Trump lost it in ways not even imaginable. His constant interrupting, mysterious sniffling, and overall horrible performance made Clinton’s job all the easier: project being presidential and polished, and be the best choice of the two (there’s a difference). The debate was a travesty (and I urge you to learn the history of the debates so that we will never see one of these horrors again and the control of them can be wrested back to the League of Women Voters), but Hillary accomplished what she needed to do: Get the momentum and the prospect of the next president on her side. Trump’s meltdown over a former Miss Universe solidified that.

So, barring some freak accident that throws the universe out of whack, Donald Trump will botch the next two debates and Hillary would do enough to get her into the Oval Office. In fact, the release of a new video too scarring to describe all but assures that Clinton will be the next president.

So why am I not voting for her? Because she has done a lot of terrible things that I'll lay out, and I don’t believe she should be rewarded for that.

Let me make something extraordinarily clear: I used to care about the Democrats. A lot. They’re the only major party that has any chance of helping the Left make its dreams come true on a national level. And there are still a few that I like, whether it’s their policies and dedication to them (Elizabeth Warren) or helping make up for their shortcomings with their charisma and personalities (President Obama, Joe Biden). Plus, local Democrats like those in the Iowa state legislature can help further progress in the area I actually live in, and we can push them forward without hating ourselves in the process. I also need to make clear that I’m NOT a sexist. I yearn for a woman president. In fact, if Elizabeth Warren were running for president (in fact, one of the co-founders of one of the major Bernie groups was actually a founder of Ready for Warren), not only could I see myself staying a Democrat, I would be spending practically every waking moment making sure she gets elected. But Elizabeth Warren would not only be a woman running for president, she would be someone whom I consider to be the best candidate running for that office. In contrast, for me, when it comes to Hillary Clinton, this is about the end of my patience.

I’m done. I can’t do this anymore. I can’t continue my life exhausting myself over people in a political party if I can’t trust that they share my dreams and interests. Healthcare? Considering Hillary’s proclamation to the world that single-payer “will never, ever come to pass” (public option notwithstanding), I shouldn’t invest my precious time and faith seeing her proclamation come true. Campaign finance? Despite all the support for Citizens United to be overturned, Hillary has undoubtedly been aided by the millions of super PAC dollars being used to supporting her; even if the Supreme Court decision is overturned, the reality of her campaign leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. College? Making college “debt-free” is very different from making it “tuition-free”, if it wasn’t obvious enough. Emulating Bernie won’t make you Bernie, and if you didn’t believe in those positions previously, then the trust isn’t there that they’ll remain that way.

Which is probably the biggest reason why I can’t support the (federal) Democrats anymore: I’ll believe it when I see it. I can’t consciously make a decision I can almost guarantee I’ll hate myself for doing years from now. And I can’t choose someone who’s at odds with the values I hold dear. Clinton actually talked about working to get the Equality Act passed in a recent op-ed, and supported the bill previous to that, but it would've been nice if she showed that she cared that much about the bill when the Orlando shooting was still dominant (and her appearance at the NYC Gay Pride Parade while being silent on the Equality Act after Orlando is hugely disgraceful). Until she shows us that she won't attack countries we're already attacking and ruin other countries by overthrowing their governments with coups (like Honduras) or otherwise meddling in their affairs because we don’t like what they’re doing (like Haiti), I never, EVER want to see her talk about racism in the U.S. the way she has been ever again for a reason that I will proclaim until the day I die: racism against people in other countries is still racism. THERE. IS. NO. EXCEPTION. Those are just a couple of the policy areas whose importance are too important to let fester.

Allow me to preemptively retort to anyone reading this article. I’m becoming an Independent and voting for a third-party candidate (if you must know, it’s the candidate for the Socialist Party, and I’m writing him in), and I’m not changing this course of action. I’ll NEVER vote for Trump, for pretty much all the reasons laid out by John Oliver and the first debate (SNL does a good parody job of it), and especially the one I mentioned earlier. I’ll never vote for Clinton, for at least everything I stated above. I won’t even vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party, because having high-functioning autism, I can’t give my vote to someone who doesn’t flat-out support vaccinations (I won’t even begin to talk about the debunked link between vaccines and autism). I’m doing this because I need to find enough inner peace within myself to make a decision I won’t regret for the rest of my life. If you have reached the conclusion to vote for Clinton in spite of everything about her because of Donald Trump, then perhaps you have found enough inner peace to reconcile with your decision.

Early voting has already started in Iowa. I will vote soon.

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