So I'm on the phone with my father, a lifelong Republican, and he announces in no uncertain terms that he is NOT going to vote for Donald Trump.

As you may imagine, i am relieved to hear this. My father is not merely a lifelong Republican; he is a rabid lifelong Republican. As far as Dad is concerned, the Republicans know everything and Democrats know nothing. When I was a kid, this conviction manifested itself as a pretty focused argument about smaller government, fiscal conservatism, strong defense and states's rights. The Democrats, he explained, were wrong to have so much faith in the federal government, which squandered our taxes on social programs which coddled the poor.

His loyalty to the Republican party has stood firm while the whole discussion changed. I have pointed out to him repeatedly that the Democrats are the fiscal conservatives now. The Democrats are better on defense. The Republicans keep getting us into expensive wars they don't pay for, they foster terrorism, and then they scream about the deficit. The Republicans keep handing huge tax breaks to the rich and they are the ones who created this terrible inequity between the rich and the poor. The Republicans want to pass a bunch of laws taking away our rights! The Republicans are mean bigots who love guns!

Okay I usually don't go that far. Mostly I really just try to get to the bottom of why people like my Dad vote Republican no matter how weird the Republicans get. I also try not to snarl, " If you vote for [insert name of offensive Republican here} I will never speak to you again, Dad."

So when he says he won't vote for Trump, I'm actually feeling pretty good. It's nice to hear that the Republican Party has finally nominated a candidate that even my father cannot stomach. And then he says, "Well, you know Trump is just as bad as Clinton!"

Seriously? I mean, really?

I told him that was an insane thing to say. I told him, Donald Trump is patently a bully, a bigot, a con man, a cheat, a narcissistic megalomaniac who only thinks of himself and has no civic spirit whatsoever. Plus he's stupid. Hillary Clinton—who everyone admits is just flat out brilliant—has been a dedicated and inspiring public servant for forty years! How on earth could anyone put them in the same category? How can any human being who isn't mentally impaired say that "Trump is as bad as Clinton"?

The rest of that conversation didn't go so well. But I remain convinced that it is an excellent question, and it is one I would love to ask pretty much anyone at CNN or MSNBC or Fox or any other major news outlet.

Both Clinton and Trump have "equally bad" likability numbers, they say. This is what I say back: What is the point of keeping that phony duality alive? What is this, high school? Who cares if kids from different cliques don't like each other? Can't we give all the kids a chance to think about the election, without telling them over and over again that "a lot of people don't like her"?

Because that is, in fact, what my Republican dad is doing. Everybody tells him that "people don't like her" so he doesn't ever have a chance to think about actually voting for our Hillary. All those terrible lies that have been told about her over the years are just kept floating, like a balloon that should have been popped ages ago. Meanwhile Hillary is out there working her ass off to get people to hear her and understand her and understand what she hopes to accomplish on our behalf. Maybe we could just hear about that, for a while, see if that makes a difference. Instead of being told constantly that "a lot of people don't like her".

My father grew up in grueling poverty in upstate Ohio. His father died when he was a child, and he was raised in a tiny farmhouse with no electricity and no plumbing and sometimes no heat. When he told his mother and his grandmother that he wanted to go to college, they laughed at him. But with the help of the G.I. bill and his own brains and determination and a fierce work ethic, he got himself through college and through graduate school and then he sent his own six kids to college, and they all came out of college debt-free. He was and is a stubborn, determined Republican individual. And he couldn't have done what he did without that G.I. bill, a vital government-funded program instituted by a Democratic administration.

America, with all its dualities, can work. Hillary Clinton tells us this, and I believe her.

And I like her, too.


August 5, 2016

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