Election Stress

- POSTED ON: Nov 03, 2016

It is 3 days before the election, and I’m making the choice to write this article here in DietHobby, rather than to stress eat.

At age 72, I’ve experienced a lot of Presidential elections.  I witnessed them as a child, then as an adolescent, and as a young adult.  I received the right to vote at age 21, and I’ve voted in every Presidential election since then.

In the past, although I always liked my candidate best, I was able to see why other people could choose the opposing candidate, and after each election I was able to respect and support whoever became President.

This 2016 election is different from all of the others in my lifetime.

Trump's abusive treatment of women, minorities and others who disagree with him; his temperament, racism, proclivity for violence; his lies, his greed, his immorality, and his associations with the worst segments of our society; cause me to dread the prospect of Trump in the White House, with the nuclear codes at his disposal.  Other nations who are our allies fear him. 
He has already become an embarrassment to America, in fact, one of their governing bodies unanimously voted that Trump is a "repulsive slug".  I’ve been astonished to watch my own Evangelical Christian family members ignore, excuse, and even condone Trump's behavior to the extent that I have lost my respect for their judgment and morality. At this point there is a breach between us that will be difficult to overcome.  I feel alienated from My Own Family. 

I am a woman with the same good and bad lifetime experiences as the majority of other women.  I’ve been a daughter, a wife, a mother, a student, and an employee. I also spent many years working as a lawyer in a world that was controlled by men, which helps me understand, respect and admire Hillary Clinton.  I would vote for her to become our first woman president even if her opponent’s faults were not so incredibly hideous.

The comedian, Louis C.K. recently said… that one of Trump's greatest flaws is his inability to handle criticism and abuse, whereas Clinton has been "taking it and taking it" for years.

"We've been hazing her. We've been holding her down and spitting in her mouth and yelling at her and she just gets up and goes, 'Well, I just think that if children have proper health care…,'' he quipped. "She just keeps working! So I'm totally for her."

Here is a video of that interview.

The article below inspires me.

of a Former
Hillary Hater

by liberally blogging,

To say that I used to dislike Hillary Clinton is a gross understatement. I used to despise her, with a deep-seated personal hatred. I didn't just disagree with many of her policies, I hated her profoundly as a human being.

During the 2008 presidential primaries, I was a strong Obama supporter. I rejoiced when Clinton was defeated. In the 2016 primaries, I was whole-heartedly on the side of Bernie. I lamented the possibility that Clinton could win. But she did, and I was aghast. 

For a few mad moments, I flirted with the idea of voting for Donald Trump. Trump, I thought, would shake things up, would change the suffocating status quo. But I quickly realized that by the time the dust of the hurricane that is Trump were to settle, most of us might not be alive. The human race would be irreversibly harmed by a Trump presidency.  

So what then? My next idea was to leave the top of the ticket blank. I would be a good citizen, I would vote a straight Democratic ticket, and would support all progressive ballot measures - but I would refuse to vote for president. I don't live in a swing state, so, I figured, my one vote wouldn't matter that much anyway.  

But then… My heart began to change. I will admit that at first, I was motivated by fear, the sheer, existential fear of what Trump might do to the lives of the people I most care about. The more I saw of Trump's misogyny, racism, proclivity for violence, and associations with the worst segments of our society, the more I started to dread the prospect of Trump in the White House, with the nuclear codes at his disposal.  

In every election, some overzealous supporters of a presidential candidate will compare the opponent to Hitler. But in this election cycle, Trump's own supporters were saying Trump was like Hitler, and they were doing so with approval. We would have to be utterly blind not to be horrified.  

At long last, after much hesitation, I decided to vote for Hillary. But even though I told my family and friends of my intentions, and got a Hillary sign to display prominently from my home, I still saw my vote as just the lesser of two evils. Hillary was bad. But Trump was really, really bad.  

As the campaign season unfolded, that "really, really" started to become "really, really, really, really," and then some. More and more, my fear of Trump made my objections to Clinton insignificant. Trump wouldn't just be a bad president. He would quite possibly be our last president. He would dismantle our constitutional democracy. He would start wars. He would ignite a race war of global proportions. He would launch our nuclear weapons, possibly because he was offended by a tweet. Yeah. There was no doubt in my mind that I had to vote against Trump, which meant voting for Hillary. But I was not quite yet voting for her because I *wanted* her to be president. 

The turning point came at  the first presidential debate. Like many Democrats, I was a nervous wreck the whole day, extremely scared of what might happen. Trump was closing in the polls, and if the debate went the wrong way, the whole momentum of the race could turn against Hillary. If Hillary gave even a mediocre performance, the chattering classes would declare her the loser and an obvious no-hoper. On the other hand, if Trump could merely refrain from physically assaulting a member of the audience, he would be crowned the winner. He could then bluster and bully all the way to the White House. 

As the debate was starting, I must confess that I was stress eating chocolate. I learned my Defense Against the Dark Arts well – when in doubt, eat chocolate. But I digress... For the first 20 minutes or so, I felt that Trump was winning, and my heart was sinking. I could feel the future of our nation slipping away from us... 

But then... Hillary was gaining the upper hand. Trump was sounding less and less coherent, and he was making statements that would be pure attack ad gold against him. Hillary, on the other hand, kept her composure. She managed to sound presidential, even as she pummeled Trump and wiped the floor with him, seemingly effortlessly. 

By the end of the debate, I was absolutely euphoric, simply bubbling over with joy and enthusiasm. Hillary had completely destroyed Trump. Hillary had done what over a dozen Republican men could not do. She had cornered the beast, stared him down, and won. 

Debates are a strange way for us to choose between presidential candidates. Given the rapid-fire back and forth format that characterizes political debates today, we can almost be sure that no substantive policy issues will be covered. Policy discussions need time, need to delve into minutiae, and therefore are not well-suited for our entertainment obsessed media. 

Instead, our debates are a clash of personalities, which might not tell us much about what a presidential candidate might think, but will show us how they might act under intense personal pressure. As I reflected on the first presidential debate, I knew that I had witnessed the clash of two larger than life personalities, and Hillary had won decisively. 

As I later learned, she had consulted with psychologists to get a good read of Trump’s personality. During the debate, she maintained her cool and composure, while also doing just enough to use Trump’s most fundamental personality traits against him - his narcissism, his argumentativeness, his unremitting desire to have the last word, his deep psychological need to justify all of his actions. Poke, poke, dangle, dangle. Trump was utterly incapable of resisting the bait.

Hillary absolutely pulverized him. But  more than his defeat, the worst for Trump would have been defeat by a woman. Trump's whole image has been built on being the Alpha Male, the 500 pound silverback gorilla, who could threaten, bully, and grandstand to anything he wants, including the Presidency of the United States.

For Trump, women are either servants or sex objects, rated on a scale of 1-10. Misogyny is a fundamental constituent part of his psychic makeup.  I do not think that any setback or failure in his life thus far has been as devastating or humiliating for him as his complete obliteration in front of a national TV audience of over 80 million viewers by "a girl." I knew that his wounded psyche would not let him rest. No amount of adult supervision by the likes of Kellyanne Conway would keep him from a meltdown of epic proportions. In fact, the fallout from the first debate was the beginning of the end for his campaign.

The day after the debate, I was still savoring the euphoria of Hillary's victory. I realized that Hillary was, after all, exactly the right person for the job, the right candidate to face and demolish the monstrosity that is Donald Trump. I realized that if she could do this to Trump, she would be the kind of person I would want in the White House, staring down the enemies of our democracy, both foreign and domestic.

As I reflected that day, I knew that Hillary was no longer the lesser of two evil for me, no longer someone I would vote for only reluctantly, holding my nose, as they say. I knew then that I would now vote for Hillary, proudly, with joy, with excitement and great enthusiasm. 

But, I thought, why I had hated Clinton so much? How had I developed such loathing for her? 

I don't remember when my deep dislike of Hillary started, but I know my feelings intensified during the 2008 primary season. As that race unfolded, I grew to detest the way Hillary was campaigning against Obama. I will not discuss the grievances of that historic political season, nor will I seek to re-litigate the events that transpired then. Clinton and Obama have obviously made up and moved on a long time ago. But for some reason, I was not able to let go of my anger at Hillary.

But why, I wondered? Politics is a contact sport, and you are going to have to break a few eggs, and all that. Every politician will have to get their hands dirty at some point just to survive in that dog-eat-dog world. So why was I so mad at Hillary for doing what all politicians do?

I had to face a sobering thought. Was it perhaps, just maybe, because I was holding a female politician to a higher standard than a male one? Did I subconsciously, despite all my avowed principles, expect Hillary to be "nicer," more "ladylike" than a man? Would I have been upset at a male politician as much for doing exactly the same things as Hillary? I had to realize that I was disproportionately faulting Hillary for things that I would have excused in a male.

I also reflected on the kind of besmirching that Hillary has been submitted to over the course of her political career. For a long time, I have resisted the idea that my negative opinion of Hillary had been shaped by others. I ascribed the blame directly to her own actions. But I started to think otherwise.

For over thirty years, the right-wing has made a multi-billion dollar business out of destroying Hillary Clinton. They have deployed many forms of attack, but underneath it all, they have used a very simple but highly effective weapon: basic classical conditioning. Google defines conditioning as "a learning process that occurs when two stimuli are repeatedly paired; a response that is at first elicited by the second stimulus is eventually elicited by the first stimulus alone." Or to put it more plainly, for over thirty years, the right-wing has repeated over and over again one simple association: "Clinton - bad." "Clinton - bad." "Clinton - bad." They have done so both in subtle and in blatant ways.

To give you one small example, years ago, when Hillary was in the Senate, I was listening to an NPR piece on political bumper stickers. The report seemed like a neutral, apolitical discussion of the, at the time, widespread phenomenon of bumper stickers bearing political messages. But then, completely out of the blue, the reporter said something to this effect: "Of course, you need to be careful with whose name you have on there, because if you had, for example, Hillary Clinton's name on your car, someone might smash your bumper just for that." What seemed like a run-of-the-mill political report had become an anti-Clinton hit job. Now repeat that a hundred times, a thousand times, a million times, in small ways and sweeping ways, for over thirty years…

I realized that it is not hard to see why someone would have a negative opinion of Clinton. We have been conditioned to hold such views through the simplest, most basic form of psychological manipulation, the kind of conditioning we use on our pets when we want to train them to do something. Clinton, of course, is not without flaws. No human being is, and certainly no politician is. But, like obedient pets, we have been trained to view her flaws through the worst possible frame, exaggerating them exponentially in ways we do not even realize. Trump's oft repeated phrase "Crooked Hillary" and his angry rally chants of "Lock her up!" have been the culmination of this process of decades-long vilification.

Which brings me to another point. I am a sensitive soul. I do not like conflict. I hate to have enemies, though I know that sometimes that is unavoidable, and I try to resolve interpersonal problems quickly, if they are at all resolvable. I cannot even image what it would be like to have a vast network of people dedicated to one goal and one goal only, to besmirch my reputation and to destroy me as a person. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have books written against me, to have documentaries made to trash me, to know that millions of people have been stirred up into a raging frenzy to hate me. I doubt that I could cope with such an onslaught of hatred. I doubt that most human beings could.

But Clinton can. She has been through hell and back, and not just once. And yet, she is still standing tall. She is still a strong, determined person who can move forward with life, with a positive vision for what she wants to do. The more I think about her strength of character, the more in awe I am of her.

Clinton's formidably strong character has been necessary to take down Donald Trump, and we should not underestimate how immensely challenging a task it has been to keep Trump from being able to ride the worst instincts of our country all the way to the White House. But defeating Trump at the polls is by no means the end of the story. The Republican Party is now openly working toward the dismantling of our constitutional democracy. Ronald  Reagan infamously said: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help." Those words were the opening salvo. Ever since the Reagan years, Republicans have been working day and night to dismantle the political infrastructure of our society.

The Republican anti-government movement has culminated in a complete refusal to make representative governing itself possible. A Trump presidency, supported by a Republican Congress, would be the logical conclusion and ultimate culmination of what Reagan had started. Trump would put a stake through the heart of the government that Ronald Reagan had despised so much, and would simply end our democracy.

But if they cannot take complete control of our government in this cycle, and thereby end it as we know it, the GOP will sabotage and sabotage and sabotage, until our government can no longer function. If the Democrats do not win the Senate, the GOP will continue its politicized dismantling of our judicial system. If the Democrats do not win the House, the GOP will bring all possibility of legislation to a halt, will hold the federal budget hostage, and will drown the White House in unending spurious investigations. As always, the Republicans in Congress will be assisted in their project of scorched-earth destruction by the corporate media, which is almost completely in their control.

Only a truly powerful personality could stand up to such formidable odds. Only someone who can endure the worst kind of public shaming, the most insidious political character assassination. Only someone who has the experience, the wisdom, the maturity of years needed for a superhuman fight.

Sometimes people say, if Hillary is really so great, why is she struggling to get elected? Shouldn't she be 60 points ahead? In fact, even Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has used this line of attack against her. But let's consider the situation. Hillary has been maligned in the most despicable ways by a well-funded, well-connected network of activists for over thirty years, to the point that millions of Americans believe that she is actually demon-possessed. She is running against a candidate who has tapped into the darkest energies of American culture, creating a cult of personality never before seen in United States history. She is up against a corrupt, unprincipled, money-worshiping media establishment that is willing to support Donald Trump at every turn, excusing everything, explaining away every scandal, ceaselessly twisting and reinterpreting data and facts to suit his needs. Add to this a rogue section of the FBI that seems to be actively seeking to orchestrate a coup against the soon-to-be democratically elected next President of the United States.

Who could go up against such odds? Most people could not. But Hillary has. She has taken on all of these tremendous obstacles, and is still in the driver's seat, moving forward with her head held high, poised to win comfortably. Not only is Hillary well suited for the job of President, I cannot think of a public servant alive in the United States today who would be better able to deal with our current national situation. I am now convinced that, far from being a lesser of two evils, Hillary Clinton is the single best person to be the president of our country at this time in our history.

But… You might say, okay, she is strong, she can fight her opponents, but what about her policies? Will she not be too friendly to corporations? Will she not be too much of a hawk?

My answer to these questions is that I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt and trust her. Her whole public life, Hillary has played second fiddle to men. She was First Lady of Arkansas, then First Lady of the United States. She was a Senator in Senate controlled by men. She was Secretary of State to a man. She has had to hide a lot, hold a lot of things in; she has had to go along to get along, just to survive in a political arena dominated by men. We do not know what she might have really wanted to do all those years.

The one time she did come forward with strong beliefs of her own, during the health care reform attempt of the 90's, when she sought to establish universal health care in our country, she was quickly silenced and bloodied by men, who wanted to send her back to the White House kitchen to bake cookies for the visiting children. Hillary has been much more cautious since those days. She has held her cards close.

But we are now just a few months away from seeing the hand she really wants to play. I am eager and excited to see her actions once she takes charge, to see her legislative ideas, her judicial picks, to see how she governs our divided nation.

I have come a long way from the person who hated Hillary with a deep passion. I now admire and love her. I now rejoice at the prospect of her approaching presidency. When I filled out my ballot for her a few days ago, I did so with pride, profoundly touched to be a part of this historical moment of electing the first female President of the United States.

Given my schedule on Tuesday, November 8, I will probably be driving when some key states will be called, making Hillary's victory all but certain. I will have to be careful to make sure that I can see the road through my tears, because I know that I will be crying with joy. Then, later that evening, when the election is definitively called for Hillary, I will celebrate with exuberant joy and a profound sense of relief.

I am now a proud Hillary supporter.
I voted for Hillary Clinton with enthusiastic joy.
I invite you to join me in voting for her too.

The video below inspires me.

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