We’re down to the wire, and with any luck we won’t wake up Wednesday morning to find it wrapped around our necks.
Without a doubt, this is the most fraught election in modern memory. In Donald Trump, the Republican party has selected an authoritarian and narcissistic liar who threatens the basic norms of democracy. Hillary Clinton is a somewhat flawed candidate, but she’s well within the bounds of normal politics. In fact, the debates showed she has the experience and temperament to be a fine president. Trump does not. His fly-by-the-seat style, his complete lack of transparency about his taxes and finances, his ignorance, and his vengefulness would be disastrous in the White House and the world. It’s literally a battle between the most pro-gay candidate ever to enter the White House vs one who would essentially turn over domestic politics to the religious and alt right.
Here’s a reminder of just what’s a stake in tomorrow’s election. Vote, vote as if your life depended on it.
President Mike Pence
It’s bad enough to think about the homophobic Pence having a seat near the heart of government. (That’s especially true since Trump may just delegate all domestic and foreign policy decisions to his vice president.) But what if something happens to Trump? Besides the usual health worries, Trump seems to be a walking compendium of high crimes and misdemeanors, the criteria for impeachment. If Trump University is found to be a fraud, or if an investigation into his bizarre personal foundation turns up something, or if he flouted tax laws, even Republicans may throw him overboard. In fact, they may prefer Pence. But imagine what Pence could do as president, the first truly religious right president. Repealing Obama’s executive orders would be the least of it. Pence would try to turn back the clock as far as possible.
The religious right let loose
Just last Friday Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, boasted about how the Trump campaign essentially let him write the party platform, the most homophobic ever. Perkins complained that previous nominees kept reining him in, but not Trump. “They actually worked with us on the platform,” Perkins exalted. For a man who doesn’t seem to mind us, Trump has surrounded himself with an antigay cabal. With his hands-off style (except when it comes to women), Trump will probably turn the machinery of government over to that group. With no one to stop them, they will have a field day doing whatever they want, and that won’t be good for us.
Supreme Court at risk
The religious right is standing by Trump largely because he can preserve the conservative majority on the Court. That ought to be a clue as the importance of the election. As long as Anthony Kennedy (above) remains on the Court, it’s unlikely that the justices will erode the legal gains we’ve made over the past decade. However, Kennedy is 80 years old, so his retirement might be around the corner. You can be sure that the right wing will promote a candidate that will start cutting into those gains as soon as possible. That might not mean reversing marriage equality, but it would mean broad religious liberty exemptions. Already, Trump has floated a list of potential choices that includes Sen. Mike Lee, who would be disastrous.
That Putin bromance
Of all the world leaders to adore, Trump has to pick Vladimir Putin, one of the most homophobic tyrants. That’s a sure sign that Trump will ignore human rights overseas. He won’t be lecturing Russian officials the way that Hillary Clinton did about LGBTQ equality and other issues. To our shame, Putin’s record of harassing the gay community will get a free pass. Trump’s willingness to ignore intelligence briefings that clearly tie Russia to the serial email hackings of Democrats is just a sample of the kind of blind eye he will turn to Putin’s actions. If Trump won’t even acknowledge Russia’s meddling in this election, why should he lift a finger for gays in Russia?
The historic promise of Clinton
It’s not all about Trump. Except when her email is in the news, Clinton has been the forgotten candidate in this election. But Clinton has run a campaign that promises to extend the progress we’ve made under Obama. Clinton will enter office not only as the first female president but the first who is entirely on board with LGBTQ equality, far farther along than Obama when he was elected. She “evolved” before she entered office, not after like Obama and her husband. It’s worth remembering that it’s not just a question of avoiding disaster on Tuesday. It’s also the chance to keep things moving in the right direction.
You can’t have a starker choice than that.