I’ve long had a policy of not telling anyone—including Tristan—how I vote. (He badgered me about this once, so I conceded that I’d voted against a subway-bond issue.) Some friends are sure I’m a right-wing Republican. Others assume I’m a liberal. Tristan teasingly calls me an authoritarian who doesn’t believe in freedom.
Never before has America felt less welcoming to me, and less like home, than during this election cycle. Fear is so contagious: Watching Donald Trump’s speeches and rallies, I’ve felt it myself. Hearing his rhetoric, I’ve wondered who belongs here. I don’t think I do.
So how do we—how do I—respond?
I believe my faith calls me to open doors, to the risks of deeper relationship, and away from higher walls and from the illusions of safety they offer. Hebrews 10, one of my favorite passages in the Bible, reminds me of the ultimate hope that I say I believe in. It also reminds me that we need the solidarity and company of others, not least of all to “provoke one another to love and good deeds.”
That came to mind last night as I listened to Hillary Clinton’s speech. She offered a profound contrast to the false promise of a savior figure who claims, “I alone can fix it.” As she spoke, I thought of my nephews and my goddaughters; what might they learn about leadership, seeing a strong woman who urges us, however imperfectly, toward togetherness and neighborly spirit, rather than a man who spits fear and stirs division? Her candidacy offers hope, too, to those of us who have spent much of our lives on the margins. Though I remain a committed independent, the Democratic convention’s picture of who belongs in America—diverse in many ways—looked so different from that of the Republicans last week.
Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans offer a vision of America or indeed of the world that I buy into completely—many of us are in that in-between space. I have profound moral problems with both party platforms. But let’s be pragmatic: Faced with the viable options, which America would I rather my nephews and goddaughters grow up in? Which America aligns better with the values—of love, of grace, of compassion—that Tristan and I believe in? Which America could speak more compellingly against injustice—racism, sexism, homophobia, inequality of many other kinds—and work for the deeper needs of its citizenry as well as to the world?
The answer, for me, is clear—as are the stakes this fall. Which is why I’m violating my longstanding nondisclosure policy to say it: #ImWithHer.