A Political Plea from a Trinity Student Abroad

5 min read

RAEKWON WHEELER ’18 
CONTRIBUTING WRITER
On Monday Sept. 26 approximately 84 million people watched the highly anticipated showdown between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump in the first presidential debate of the 2016 general election.
For many, it was an exciting night that catapulted the race for the White House to the next level. For me, it was also a reminder of the political season that I left behind at home while studying abroad in Trinidad and Tobago.
During my sophomore year, I took advice from friends who studied abroad during their time at Trinity. Many cautioned that I would not be able to keep up with American news and events while I was abroad, but the political junkie in me knew  that would not be the case.
Aside from my political interests, as a 20-year-old black man from the United States, it is hard to ignore the countless instances of police violence against black men. It is hard to defend American exceptionalism in discussions with international students while back home Colin Kaepernick is vilified for exercising his First Amendment right.
There are so many important issues at stake in this election and as a first-time voter, I have a burning desire to be at home canvassing and rallying support for Hillary Clinton. Unlike many of my peers, I am enthusiastic about my support for Secretary Clinton, and I am not ashamed to say that “#Imwithher.” I understand the disappointment of Bernie Sanders supporters, but they can take pride in having had such major influence on the party’s platform during the Democratic National Convention. Sanders backers overwhelmingly have thrown their support to Clinton (90 percent) and know that they will have an ally in the White House.
At this point in the election, anyone who is still “Bernie or Bust” needs to recognize that they are jeopardizing the future of the United States and the lives of millions of Americans. Casting a protest vote or refraining from voting is a position of privilege that we can not afford. Furthermore, those who have cavalier attitudes about this election are also demonstrating privilege. It is not enough to say, “I guess I’ll vote for Hillary,” because that broadcasts doubt to undecided voters, making them less likely to vote for Clinton. Convincing yourself that overcoming your own drawn-out grievances against Clinton is enough in this election is woefully ignorant and dangerous. Why? It leads to complacency, silence, and detachment from the process, which ultimately trivializes the election.
If someone asks whom you are voting for, please stop feeling the need to justify your vote for Clinton with the absurd notion that she is the “lesser of two evils.” This statement equates the unprecedented behavior of a racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, misogynistic man (with the temperament of a five-year-old) to a woman who is the most qualified candidate to run for president in our nation’s history. Period.
Hillary Rodham Clinton is a badass, and you should be proud to vote for her.
Her flaws do not liken her to Trump. On her worst day, she is 100 times better than he would ever be. At one point during the debate, he mocked Clinton for being prepared, like a school-bully teasing the smart kid in class for studying for a test. Without missing a beat, Clinton quipped, “And you know what else I prepared for? I am prepared to be president.” She is doing her part, and now it is time for us to do ours.
This election requires a sense of seriousness and urgency. You have to ask yourself, “Am I doing everything in my power to ensure that Clinton will be elected as our next Commander-In-Chief?” And if your answer is no, you’ll have no one to blame but yourself should Donald Trump take the oath of office.
I feel a deep frustration for not being able to do more for her campaign while abroad. My mother and grandmother taught me that there are two types of people in life; those who sit around complaining without offering solutions and those who are proactive. I choose to be in the latter category.
Instead of wallowing in self-pity, I thought about what actions I could take. Thanks to technology and social media, I have been able to connect with college students and organizations across the U.S. to start planning a video in support of Hillary Clinton. I have talked with other friends studying abroad about absentee voting and have even helped students back home register to vote. Mobilization is key.
Despite my efforts abroad, I know that I alone cannot accomplish these goals. So to my American friends at home, I am calling on you to do what I am unable to do. I need you to go out and knock on doors, talk to people in person, and volunteer for the Clinton campaign. Our generation is the most tech-savvy and creative, and it is time to show everyone the power that we have as millennials.
Don’t tell me that your vote doesn’t matter –– it does. We know what happened in Britain when good people took their vote for granted and depended on others to make a decision for them. Let’s not make the same mistake. We have less than 40 days till the election, let’s make them count.

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