Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Donald Trump has won ten of the first fifteen primary states. Donald Trump now has three to one odds of taking the nomination on the political betting markets. Even Nate Silver, the preeminent election-forecasting statistician who has long downplayed Trump as an unserious candidate, concedes Trump is now the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination. And if someone is the presidential nominee of a major party in this country, no matter how unpopular or inexperienced they are, that person has a significant chance of becoming President of the United States. It is with immense disbelief and anxiety that I write that Donald Trump has a very real shot at being elected to the most powerful office on the face of the earth. This article is about what needs to be done to stop him.
This article is about supporting Hillary Clinton. No, it’s not about why Democrats should support her over Bernie Sanders in the primary. I already wrote an article on that. The fact of the matter is, regardless of your opinion, Hillary Clinton has now built a practically insurmountable delegate lead and is almost certain to be the Democratic nominee. If that happens, she will be the only person standing between Donald Trump and the Oval Office. Now is the time to talk about that hypothetical general election matchup, one that looks incredibly likely to occur.
Whether you are a liberal or a conservative, if you abhor the concept of a Trump presidency and do not currently support Secretary Clinton, I encourage you to get over your distaste for her very quickly. You may not like her. You may find x, y, or z thing that she did unacceptable. You may like a niche third party candidate on the ballot. You may reject the dichotomy of the two party system. You can reject it all you want, it isn’t going away in the next eight months.
What is happening in the next eight months is the candidacy of quite possibly the most dangerous man this country has ever considered for the presidency. This is a man who hasn’t met a group of people he is unwilling to disparage, whether it be women, Muslims, Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, or Jews. This is a man whose respect for the Constitution is so low that he recently advocated for making it easier for politicians to sue the press because they write mean things about him. This is a man who wants to have his finger on the nuclear button yet knows nothing about nuclear security.
A vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election will be the only way to cast a vote against Trump. After all, in our electoral system, the only way for Trump to lose is for another candidate to get more votes than him. Voting for anyone else, or not voting at all, ignores that reality and is complacency in the face of immense danger. This is particularly the case in a swing state such as Pennsylvania, where the race is expected to be close and the result could be the tipping point for the entire election. Being able to vote in a swing state is an immense privilege in American politics and is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. But this article isn’t about just voting for Secretary Clinton. It is about mobilizing behind her. If you want to stop Trump, campaign for her enthusiastically. Knock on doors, persuade your friends, donate to her campaign. That might seem like an absurd thing to ask of a Clinton skeptic, but no effort should be too great in the name of stopping The Donald from becoming President Trump.
If the successes of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have shown us anything, it is that enthusiasm and grassroots support can shape elections. In the case of Senator Sanders, his grassroots support has gotten him a hell of a lot further than anyone predicted. That enthusiasm, drive, and energy must be focused behind Secretary Clinton if she is the nominee. As Sanders himself is fond of saying, the differences between him and Clinton are dwarfed one hundred times over by the differences between Clinton and Trump.
If Donald Trump is elected it will not be because a majority of Americans support him and his beliefs; it will be because of the reckless moral absolutism and political complacency of those who oppose him. There are millions of American citizens, and millions more who lack citizenship yet still call this country home, whose lives will be devastated by a Trump presidency. To ignore their plight because you would rather maintain your ideological purity is the height of privilege.
Clinton skeptics, please listen to me. Some of you are life-long Republicans who grew up hating the Clintons. Others are very liberal Democrats who distrust Secretary Clinton and support Senator Sanders. I understand that supporting someone you dislike and disagree with is hard, but elections are not about finding the candidates we agree with on every issue; elections are about choices. Those choices are often hard, narrow and unclear. This choice, one you are likely to face at the ballot box come November, is none of those things. In fact, rarely is a choice so easy.
It is a choice between one candidate who will for the most part be a continuation of the current administration and another who is is one of the most dangerous presidential candidates this country has ever seen. Donald Trump’s bigotry, scorn, and intolerance knows no bounds. He is a demagogue whose rashness and inexperience make the prospect of him as the commander-in-chief of the greatest military power the world has ever known absolutely terrifying. His election would be a stain on not just our country but democracy itself. The choice is clear. Trump must be defeated. Mobilizing behind Hillary in the general election is the only way to make sure that happens.
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