Right now, our country needs you.
Nearly every day since the election, our country has witnessed new causes for outrage from president-elect Donald Trump. As I write this, Trump has angered Chinese officials by publicly questioning the “One China” principle. Before that, he denied CIA assessments reporting that Russia interfered with the election to help him win. The day before, we learned that Trump would add to his growing list of conflicts of interest by remaining in his role as executive producer for “Celebrity Apprentice” during his “free time” as president. Before that, Trump claimed, with no evidence, that millions of people voted illegally, and yet his team has moved to block recounts.
These are not the actions of a person fit to be president.
In my mind, one of the most important qualities of a president is the ability to inspire, to bring people together for the common good. Despite her imperfections, Hillary Clinton inspired women and young girls to visit the grave of suffragist Susan B. Anthony. Trump inspired the Ku Klux Klan to hold a parade and a spike in hate crimes rivaling that seen in the wake of September 11.
As a civil rights advocate, Trump’s early move to hire white nationalist Steve Bannon terrifies me. This first round draft pick likely reveals his deepest commitments and priorities, and it comes as no surprise. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke has said, for example, that he and Trump share the same message. Trump is also infamous for his “textbook” racist comments about U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel and for his advocacy of a Muslim “registry” reminiscent of World War II internment camps.
As a bisexual and advocate for LGBT rights, it scares me further to see Trump surrounding himself with staunch opponents of LGBT equality. We have reason to expect Trump to repeal executive orders that protect LGBT people and worse. As Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney said of Trump, “He’s told us who he’s going to appoint, and they will eviscerate all of the rights we’ve won at the Supreme Court.”
But the impact of a Trump presidency would not be limited to the United States. Even the most casual actions and comments from a president can have international ramifications. And in a letter published in the New York Times, 50 G.O.P. national security experts warned that “Trump is not qualified to be President and Commander in Chief. Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous President and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”
As a sociologist and political scholar, I concur with this assessment.
I’ve spent years studying U.S. domestic and international politics. Along the way, I’ve come to appreciate the subtly, sensitivity, and tact required of world leaders. Based on my research on U.S.-China-Taiwan political relations, work for which I was awarded my doctorate, it is my opinion that Trump’s call with the president of Taiwan upset the fragile relationship between the U.S. and China with respect to Taiwan. I believe that a leader with minimal experience and minimal advising could have seen China’s response coming a mile away and would have known not to take such a call in the first place. A person with the temperament needed to be president surely would not have upset things further by venting and lashing out at China on Twitter. Social media is not the place to conduct foreign diplomacy.
Every move Trump makes, every comment he gives, raises alarming questions in my mind. Can we afford to accept a man whose rise to president-elect was helped by F.B.I. director James Comey’s abuse of power and tampering from Russia intended to secure a Trump victory? Can we afford to have as president a man who plays as fast and loose with the truth as he does with international relations? Isn’t it dangerous to the future we’d leave our children to inaugurate a man who has said of women to “grab them by the p**sy”?
On November 8, our country voted by a margin of 2.8 million votes in favor of Hillary Clinton. A petition encouraging you to follow the popular vote and make Clinton president when you cast your votes on December 19 has also gained nearly 5 million signatures. To me, the voice of the people has spoken. We call upon you to cast your votes on December 19th for Hillary Clinton.
How you vote, however, is your choice, and that is something we can and should respect. You are not obligated by law to rubber stamp the popular vote. As your fellow elector, Christopher Suprun, has pointed out, Alexander Hamilton argued in Federalist 68 that the “Electoral College should determine if candidates are qualified, not engaged in demagogy, and independent from foreign influence.”
I worry that denying the popular vote for the second time in a generation could further suppress voter turn-out and further alienate the countless Americans who feel that their votes don’t matter. And if Senator Barbara Boxer’s bill is any indicator, denying the popular vote could very well spell the end of the Electoral College itself.
But if you simply cannot bring yourself to vote for Hillary Clinton on December 19, I ask you to vote for an experienced and viable alternative to Donald Trump from the GOP, someone who will bring us together, who will fight for us all as one nation, united—men and women, LGBTs and non-LGBTs, whites and people of color alike and on equal ground. With humility and respect, I ask you to vote your conscience. I ask you to think about the future your vote will create for our children and our children’s children. I ask you to be brave.
Our country needs you.
DaShanne Stokes, Ph.D.