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Saturday, June 18, 2016

The existential despair of Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump

THE WEEK



The existential despair of Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump

Michael Brendan Dougherty





Millions of Americans detest the idea of choosing between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Perhaps you're among them. You may think that both presumptive nominees are unfit for office. You may loathe the way their candidacies are warping the personalities of your friends and family, particularly on social media. Perhaps you simply feel that each of these candidates is somehow undeserving of the time and energy that is required to vote.
You might also feel some pressure to suck it up and vote for "the lesser of two evils." Well, I have a simple message for you: Don't.

Don't let anyone steal that disgust from your heart. It is a precious thing. You should treasure your disgust as a sign of your decency, particularly because hardly anyone else will. Don't let anyone tell you that the nearly uncontrollable urge to retch at the thought of this election is disproportionate, or somehow uncivil. When you contemplate the fate of your country in 2016, you have the right to be depressed, or even despairing.

You know that Donald Trump is an unstable imbecile. But this knowledge doesn't oblige you to discover new qualities in the bottomlessly cynical, power-mad grifter Hillary Clinton. In your heart of hearts, you may suspect that if she thought it would get her four centimeters closer to the presidency, Hillary Clinton would devour your squealing grandchild, or her own, live on the set of The View. It's a terror to contemplate. But in no way should this terror obviate your equally credible suspicion that Donald Trump is rabies in human form, likely to drive our country into a feverish search for scraps in the neighbors' garbage only to get us run over by a truck.

Tens of millions of dollars and an army of journalists and paid hacks will try to morally compel you to choose either Clinton or Trump. The internet and the nightly news will become a kind of active chain of volcanic pustules, emitting outrage and manufactured umbrage in your direction for the next five months, hoping that you scurry for cover underneath one candidacy.

Hold firm. 

By refusing to choose or — more boldly — refusing to care, you will be joining millions of people, who, in any given year, act as if voting for one of the two major parties is useless. They may not exercise their franchise, but they are decent, law-abiding people. They floss and keep their lawns tidy. They see their friends and family losing their minds on Facebook and spend five minutes clicking "Hide Post" through their timeline. This is the truly civic thing to do: Preemptively conceal a person's public embarrassment for them. There is nothing wrong with being a non-voter.

Many of your friends will tell you that if you go on this way, refusing to choose, you are engaging in a "both sides" fallacy. They will say that in fact, Donald Trump is more likely to blow up the whole goddamned world, with his micron-twitch temper and the nuclear button. That may be true. But voting for Hillary Clinton as president and then living with her presidency may turn you into the kind of irritable jerk who wakes up every morning wishing the whole goddamned world could be blown up.

You may in fact believe one side is worse than the other. Even significantly. That's fine. In the sacred sanctum of my heart, I'd rather die at the hand of a knife-wielding relative over a game of cribbage than by drowning in an inflated kiddie pool filled with ammonia. I've gamed both of these scenarios out at length, and one of them is certainly preferable to the other. But I'm not going to interrupt a pleasant November day to endorse either of them.

And please don't tell me that I owe it to those who died on Utah Beach on D-Day, or at the Battle of Yorktown in the Revolutionary War, to choose between Trump and Clinton. If we really believed that electing a president was somehow connected to honoring our war dead, we would not have chosen a bilious moron and a greedy black hole of ambition as our candidates in the first place.

If you want to walk about in sackcloth and ashes and do penance, I think that's great. Glenn Beck suggested fasting to stop Donald Trump and then he started crying. It was the most sensible reaction he's had to anything in years.
Whatever you do, just don't let anybody trick you into thinking this choice is worthy of you or your nation.

Someone will inevitably ask you this question: "But really, gun to your head: Do you want President Trump? Or do you want President Clinton?" You should reframe the question for them like this: "When someone asks, 'Gun to your head: Do you want a gun to your head? Or a gun to your head?' The only response is: 'Just get over with it.'"

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