Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.
KJ, John 18:40
The Mozart of baseball journalists, an exquisite writer whom I have admired for decades, has shamed me into revealing—for whatever little it’s worth—my vote in the next presidential election. To read Roger Angell’s distinctive, lucid prose is like listening to the song of a water spirit in a fresh mountain stream. At the age of a youthful 96 years, Angell has taken to the pages of the New Yorker (his long-time home) to declare his vote for Hillary Clinton.
I once heard Ruben Berríos, leader of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, say that a US presidential election was always a choice between “Mr. Hamburger and Mr. Hot Dog.” The customary spectacle in our time of two unfortunate male clowns lunging for the presidential chair has been—to say the very least—disheartening. But there is a never-before-seen wrinkle in this year’s election: it is a choice between Mr. Hot Dog and a Woman. Hillary Clinton may yet turn out to be another fool in our endless parade of presidential clowns, but there is no doubt that Donald Trump will be a vulgar buffoon.
I have taken my responsibilities as a democratic voter seriously in this election. At the risk of my sanity, I have heard most of the primary debates, followed the news assiduously in print and social media, and have taken the time—seeking surcease of sorrow—to review the history, speeches and debates of the greatest of presidents, Abraham Lincoln. At the end of this self-imposed Way of the Cross, through which I sought revelation in penance, I make mine Roger Angell’s words: “I will cast my own vote for Hillary Clinton with alacrity and confidence.” And let me clarify: I am not voting for Clinton because I think Trump is a punk (although I do). Trump, to my mind, was the very best of the stable of presidential candidates Republicans offered US voters in the primaries; I will vote for Clinton because I trust (I do) that as president she will walk on paths that I think best for this great country.
Let me briefly share with readers the stations of my thinking.
First, Trump began his campaign by calling Mexicans “rapists.” Republicans have tried to assuage this declaration by reminding us that he was merely talking about “illegal” immigrants (who have no voting power, and no effective voice in our society). But every Mexican, and every self-respecting immigrant—legal or undocumented—knows that he was talking about all of us. This was part of the brief of the Confederate states against the abolition of slaves—the protection of Southern womanhood against African savages and Northern proletarian mobs. Back then (just as now) there was divine sanction for the consideration of women as property and for their subjugation: “As the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” (KJ, Ephes. 5:24)
Second, in the aftermath of the appearance of the Khans at the Democratic National Convention, Trump notably criticized Mrs. Kahn rather than Mr. Khan, because he believed himself “viciously” attacked by them. Why attack the silent Gold Star mother rather than the highly articulate father who confronted him?
Third, Trump led a metaphorical lynch mob in New York against the Central Park Five who were falsely convicted in a brutal assault and rape case. Even though scientific evidence has cleared the accused and they have been exonerated by the courts, Trump still holds that they are guilty. Would Trump have taken out ads in city newspapers against the teenagers if the victim had not been a white woman?
Finally, the recent video of Trump and Billy Bush (a fitting name for a hero in a low-grade porno flick) leching after women inside a bus at the NBC parking lot confirmed my suspicion that in “the agonized womb of consciousness” (Robert Louis Stevenson), the energy fueling Trump’s campaign and that of its supporters comes not only from racism and misogyny, but also from a decided horror at the possibility that a woman might be elected president of the United States.
What is the brief against Hillary Clinton? Her personal e-mail server threatened national security. To those of us of the Vietnam generation who lived through the Nixon years, the concept of “national security” is a grotesque canard that is recurrently flaunted only to cover up government chicanery. I fear the invocation of “national security” much more than I fear the consequences of Clinton’s past e-mail protocols.
“She’s a liar,” an acquaintance of mine recently exclaimed; but is there anyone still naïve enough to expect our politicians to tell the truth?
“She killed people in Benghazi,” continued my deplorable acquaintance, as if Clinton had been present in Libya and pulled the trigger herself. I have no patience with people who find fault with mistakes made in Benghazi and yet condone the civilian lives lost, and the sacrifice of service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Then there is the Clinton foundation, which allegedly sold access to figures in our government in exchange for charitable contributions. Assuming this to be true, I find it refreshing that two of our political figures would sell access to our clown dynasty in order to do some good, for a change, in the world.
There are also accusations that Hillary “shamed” women who were involved in affairs with Bill Clinton. Do conservatives who believe in the sanctity of marriage seriously contend that a wife should stand up for her husband’s mistresses?
As to the argument that both candidates are terrible and neither one deserves our vote—when has it ever been any different? Certainly not in my lifetime. If this is your cue, vote if not for the candidates, then for the sake of the New Democracy that may arise after the collapse of Empire, keeping in mind Hamlet’s wisdom: “Use every man [or woman] after his desert, and who shall scape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity. The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.” (Hamlet, 2.2)
What prompts my vote for Clinton? Always with me is the inspiration of the greatest of my teachers, Jose Martí—the Apostle of all Cubans. In the first page of the first number of his magazine for the children of the Americas, La edad de oro, Martí wrote: “For the children we work, because children know how to love, because children are the hope of the world.”
I have no hope in the human race; but I have great faith in the children of the world. Because of her impeccable education, because of her dedication to the country, because of her impressive experience in US politics, but above all because of her life-long dedication to children, I will vote for Hillary Clinton.
I am mystified by the notion that Donald Trump is a change candidate. We have had an exhausting parade (with pauses for notable exceptions) of exclusively male clown presidents since the beginning of the republic. The real change would be to elect a woman. I plan to use my vote as a Molotov cocktail in an attempt to interrupt that sad procession of masculinity with a qualified female candidate.
Blame the old-world upbringing my father gave me, but I hate it when a gang of pious men—just as in Salem—gather together to hang a Witch.
Between the thief Barabbas and the flawed Woman, I choose the Woman.