Mary­land votes should send a message

Baltimore Sun - - COMMENTARY - By Jonathan Tomick Jonathan Tomick is a high school English teacher in the Bal­ti­more area; his email is

In re­cent weeks, I have no­ticed a va­ri­ety of qual­i­fiers ac­com­pa­ny­ing dis­cus­sion in Mary­land of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion — state­ments like “we know Mary­land won’t have an im­pact in the out­come” or “Mary­land will likely vote blue in Novem­ber.”

It’s true that the polls show Hil­lary Clin­ton has a sub­stan­tial lead in our state, and it’s true that Mary­land only has 10 elec­toral votes. But all this talk of the elec­tion al­ready be­ing a fore­gone con­clu­sion for our state has me con­cerned, rather than re­lieved. Maybe it’s be­cause I grew up in Ohio, a state that prides it­self as a prized bat­tle­ground and gets to flaunt facts like this one: No Repub­li­can has won the pres­i­dency with­out win­ning Ohio since Abra­ham Lin­coln.

But as a proud res­i­dent of Bal­ti­more, I find my­self search­ing for mean­ing in my pres­i­den­tial vote be­yond sim­ply ex­er­cis­ing my right as a U.S. citizen. Hear­ing lan­guage that di­min­ishes our role in the elec­tion makes me fear that we have lost our sense of ur­gency and sense of ef­fi­cacy, and that could come back to bite us. I saw too many “Make Amer­ica Great Again” signs at the Mary­land State Fair to make me com­fort­able.

As Nov. 8th ap­proaches and Don­ald Trump con­tin­ues to sab­o­tage his own can­di­dacy, many vot­ers are breath­ing sighs of re­lief: Hil­lary Clin­ton ap­pears to have the elec­tion in hand, and the na­tion ap­pears to have avoided dis­as­ter. But I’m still hold­ing my breath and plan to for the next four years be­cause Don­ald Trump’s po­lit­i­cal suc­cess is not a fluke of 2016. There are real his­tor­i­cal fac­tors — so­cial, eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal — that have made Mr. Trump’s rise to promi­nence pos­si­ble and have also given rise to sim­i­lar po­lit­i­cal move­ments across the world, most no­tably, Bri­tain’s exit from the Euro­pean Union.

And in the same way Mr. Trump’s rise has been years in the mak­ing, what he stands for will not just go away af­ter the elec­tion. If he loses by a nar­row mar­gin, Mr. Trump may be en­ticed to try again with the sup­port of a Repub­li­can Party that will have had four years to lick its wounds and mo­bi­lize their en­tire ma­chine to sup­port him. If, how­ever, Hil­lary Clin­ton wins by such a mar­gin that it ap­pears Mr. Trump never gen­uinely stood a chance, we can hope a Don­ald Trump can­di­dacy will fade into the SNL sketches and Stephen Col­bert zingers it was al­ways sup­posed to be. Then, per­haps, the Repub­li­can Party will fig­ure out how to en­fran­chise its vot­ers with­out re­sort­ing to fear-mon­ger­ing as its pri­mary po­lit­i­cal strat­egy.

A vote for Hil­lary Clin­ton should be more than a vote for the Demo­cratic can­di­date, the qual­i­fied can­di­date and the long-over­due first fe­male can­di­date. It should be a de­lib­er­ate vote against Don­ald Trump, against “locker-room” ban­ter” and against fear. The “change” this year’s Repub­li­can ticket ad­vo­cates is a fear­ful back­track­ing to less tol­er­ant, more ig­no­rant times. The only mea­sur­able ac­tion Mr. Trump and his run­ning mate, In­di­ana Gov. Mike Pence, have pro­posed is to re­peal ev­ery­thing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has ac­com­plished. Even if you dis­agree with some of those ac­com­plish­ments, even if you ques­tion Hil­lary’s poli­cies, we can­not go back in time. It is sim­ply not pos­si­ble. Our next pres­i­dent needs to face the chal­lenges of 2016, not try to re­cre­ate the 1980s.

A friend of mine re­cently re­minded me of the ex­pres­sion, “In a democ­racy peo­ple get the lead­ers they de­serve.” While I sym­pa­thize with those who be­lieve we de­serve bet­ter than Hil­lary Clin­ton, we de­serve far bet­ter than Don­ald Trump. We can­not al­low his be­hav­ior or his rhetoric at any level of se­ri­ous public dis­course, now or ever. Although we can­not rewind and re-do the Repub­li­can pri­maries, we can re­al­ize the mis­take we’ve made and learn from it.

Come Nov. 8th, we can­not risk hear­ing “Don­ald Trump per­forms bet­ter than ex­pected in Mary­land” in the news or “Hil­lary Clin­ton nar­rowly wins Mary­land” in our head­lines. While Mary­land’s in­flu­ence in the num­bers of the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion may al­ready be de­ter­mined, we can still send a clear message: Mr. Trump, you are not wel­come here. Let’s com­mu­ni­cate that loud and clear in the polls.

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