An Open Letter to My Friends Who Voted for Donald Trump

My dear friend,

Thank you for taking the time to read this post, especially when you know it’s likely to be filled with sadness and anger. I know this is uncomfortable, but I also know that you care about me. That’s why we’re friends. Thank you for your respect; I will strive to show the same to you.

It’s easy to rant against Trump supporters in the abstract, but not against you, because I know you. I know you’re not racist, or sexist, or homophobic. I know you respect and care for me and others like me. And that’s why, as a woman, as a Millennial, as a writer, and as your friend, I have to let you know how your vote feels, and more importantly, how it functions, to me.

Donald J. Trump has now been elected to become arguably the most powerful person on the planet. He has been catapulted onto perhaps the largest and loudest platform a human can have. And I, as a woman, am deeply hurt by this. We have handed a gigantic megaphone clad in the stars and stripes to a man who repeatedly discusses women as having value based only on their sexual attractiveness to him. He attacks women who disagree with him not by dismantling their ideas, but by calling them “nasty,” “unattractive,” “very hard to be a 10,” saying they don’t “look presidential,” have “the face of a dog,” and asking, “Look at that face. Would anyone vote for that?”.

This is a man who has said that if a woman is sexually harassed in the workplace, it is her job to leave. A man who called a lawyer “disgusting” in court when she requested a medical break to pump breast milk for her infant daughter. A man who has insulted the appearance of his rivals’ wives to undermine their masculinity. A man who said of a ten-year-old girl as she left, “I’m going to be dating her in ten years. Can you believe it?” A man who explained sexual assault in the military as what happens “when you put men & women together.” A man who has bragged about sexual assault, not really apologized for it, and then ridiculed the women who accused him of the same, saying one “would not be [his] first choice,” that she wasn’t even attractive enough to assault.

He is teaching the young people of this country that women like me are worth less, that our ideas are secondary to the utility of our bodies. That I am a piece of meat and my value is tied directly to how much he wants to consume me. That everyone else in society is free to treat me in the same way. And that in treating me that way, in fact, “nobody has more respect for women than [he does].”

Donald Trump is about to become the face of our nation to the world. The president does not unilaterally pass laws, or strike them down, or overturn court cases. He does set the conversation and tell the world who we are and what we’re about. He does lead the process of executing the laws. He does not respect me, and he will not represent me. I do not trust a Trump administration to prioritize enforcing the laws that protect me, because he has never prioritized respecting me.

I cannot speak for the friends of color I know you have. I cannot speak for the friends with disabilities I know you have. I cannot speak for the LGBT friends I know you have. I cannot speak for the friends of different religions I know you have.

I can speak only for myself. And I am hurt and dehumanized by the man who earned your vote.

I have no intention of unfriending you, or ignoring you, or avoiding you. I will have whatever conversations you want that we can have with love. I am not a single issue voter, and I’m happy to talk at another time about why I think the vast majority of his other rhetoric and policy are also unacceptable, some of which I’ve expounded here.

But I am heartbroken by the message that treating me this way is not only acceptable, it may even get you the highest office in the land.

I’m not upset because my team lost, because states went red instead of blue. I am upset because this country told me that it is acceptable, maybe even “honest” and “telling it like it is,” to treat me and others like shit.

And I know that you don’t believe that. So let me say that voting for him doesn’t mean that you have to put up with the things that he says and does that you know are wrong. Protest isn’t limited to the “losers.”

I know that my writing a blog post is not dialogue, but I hope it leads to some. And if I break down in tears when we do talk, you’ll know one reason why.

With love,
Chloe

The Law School Diaries: What’s Your Excuse?

Greetings from beautiful, inexplicably 65-degree, Pittsburgh, PA! I write this from the porch of The Porch in Schenley Plaza, because I want you to vote.

As you probably know, the US presidential election is tomorrow. You can check out some of my thoughts on our candidates here, here, and here. But this blog post is not about them. This blog is about you. You and your beautiful vote.

If you are a US citizen, please, pease vote tomorrow. This election matters, and your participation in it matters. People have fought, been arrested, and died for your suffrage, some more recently than others. Honor the legacy of the American Revolution, the Civil Rights Movement, the Voting Rights Act, the Suffragettes, and everyone else who believed that you, and your voice, matter.

On Friday morning at 11am, I got on a Greyhound bus at South Station in Boston en route to New York City. I arrived in New York an hour and a half late, missed my irksome bus connection, spent almost six hours in the bus station trying to finish a ten-page legal memo for Legal Research and Writing that was due the next day at 5pm. Then I got on another bus at 11pm and got into Pittsburgh at 6:20am Saturday. The tireless Lindsey and Katharine picked me up from the bus station.

Why do all this, you ask? Why miss two days of law school classes, travel while I have a paper due, spend a total of over 25 hours on a bus, and get back to campus after an overnight bus ride 40 minutes before I have to get to class?

Because I’m registered to vote in Pennsylvania and didn’t get an absentee ballot. Because my right to vote matters to me, especially in this historic election. Because women were arrested, abused, and force-fed through the nose so that I could go to the polls tomorrow.

What’s your excuse, America? Let’s show up in record numbers tomorrow. Let’s shatter the expectations of those who project how many (or how few) of us will speak. Let’s make sure the outcome of this election really reflects what America means to us.

Vote.

Find your polling place at https://www.iwillvote.com/

Who Is My Neighbor? Voting as an Evangelical

It’s really only been this week that I figured out what, at base, so disturbs me about this election. There’s plenty to choose from, sure. But beyond the actions of the candidates themselves, beyond the insane and horrible rhetoric, beyond the general polarization and scandal and dishonesty, there’s one thing above everything else that burdens my heart. This election, more than any other I can remember, we are desperate to save ourselves at any cost.

The Evangelical voting bloc has been a powerful one for a long time. It’s vocal and it’s effective. Conservatives have used lots of different methods to appeal to us, to assure us that they are the best candidates for us. This election, the Evangelical bloc has been courted through fear: fear that our way of life will disappear if we vote for the wrong candidate.

It is a new version, a stronger version of the us versus them mentality. No more are we just on separate sides: now we are told to weigh our own interests in Supreme Court justices and freedom of conscience laws against the dignity, safety, and rights of others — and to find our own interests overwhelming.

Where in the Bible, I wonder, does Jesus tell us to protect ourselves at all costs? Where does He tell us to barricade ourselves inside the church walls no matter what evil is occurring outside them? Where does He command that we avoid those who hate us and give only to those who already love us? Where does He declare the protection of the church to be above the rights of the poor and slaves and refugees?

The safety and comfort of the church should not guide our thinking — the giving, sacrificial, other-centric nature of the Kingdom of God should. We are told to be afraid, to believe that we must stand up for ourselves first and foremost because no one else will.

Thank God Jesus didn’t take that advice.

10 Points on Eric Metaxas

In July, I wrote a response to a piece by Wayne Allyn Root advocating that Christians must vote for Donald Trump. Root’s piece didn’t turn out to have much readership, but then Eric Metaxas, of Bonhoeffer fame, wrote his own piece for the Wall Street Journal. This piece, in contrast, has gotten a lot of Evangelical response. It has the tone of many of the pieces written by this community: yes, Trump is distasteful, but hold your nose and vote for him because the alternative is worse. Here is, point by point, why I believe Eric Metaxas has it wrong.

1. “Over this past year many of Donald Trump’s comments have made me almost literally hopping mad. The hot-mic comments from 2005 are especially horrifying. … So yes, many see these comments as a deal breaker. But we have a very knotty and larger problem. What if the other candidate also has deal breakers? Even a whole deplorable basketful?”

I’m disturbed by the rhetoric that the 2005 tape is Trump’s only, and most damaging, “deal breaker.” Of course, Metaxas leaves room for the other offensive statements, but this is the only one he mentions specifically. Implied to me, especially in the context of this leaked recording, is that we wouldn’t have any deal breakers with Trump otherwise — “odious” behavior, sure, but not deal breakers.

This appears all over the internet, but a few other possible “deal breakers”.

2. “What if not pulling the lever for Mr. Trump effectively means electing someone who has actively enabled sexual predation in her husband before—and while—he was president?”

This is a complex issue, but I want to start by pointing out that Metaxas nowhere acknowledges the sheer volume of sexual assault or harassment allegations Mr. Trump has had against him. Trump recently responded to one of the allegations by telling his supporters, “She would not be my first choice,” as though her appearance made the allegations obviously false. Politico published a list here, with links to the original sources. There is a more thorough list here from New York Magazine reaching farther back into the past, although you may have to dig a little more to find credible sources. There are also at least 20 lawsuits about sexual harassment within Trump’s businesses. It also appears there is a pending lawsuit in New York alleging that Mr. Trump and Jeffrey Epstein both raped a thirteen-year-old girl in 1994, Mr. Trump multiple times. It’s true that he has not been convicted or lost a lawsuit for sexual assault or harassment, but his accusers are legion. It may be worth noting, also, that Ben Carson, one of Trump’s advisors, says it doesn’t even matter whether his accusers are telling the truth. It’s a little disingenuous to talk about Bill’s horrors in this area without talking about those allegations.

Talking about Hillary’s treatment of her husband’s accusers is harder, and I won’t try to defend her actions, or at least the actions of the Clinton staff of the time, in trying to discredit them. CNN has a good individual analysis of the different accusations and the treatment of them here. There’s also a more in-depth and critical article in the New York Times. A few things worth noting here:

  • Like Trump’s accusers, Bill Clinton’s accusers of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment have not been vindicated, either — he has not been convicted or lost a civil suit. He did settle the sexual harassment suit by Paula Jones with no admission of guilt for $850,000.
  • There is some amount of uncertainty about Hillary’s exact involvement in these events.
  • These allegations are, at base, about Bill. Bill is not running for president. Hillary is.
3. “What if she defended a man who raped a 12-year-old and in recalling the case laughed about getting away with it?”

This is one I’m getting a little frustrated with. Here’s a fact check article on it. Hillary Clinton (then Rodham) worked for a legal aid clinic, one of whose functions is to defend those accused of a crime who can’t afford their own legal counsel. She was on a list of lawyers who would represent indigent clients, so the judge assigned her to the case and didn’t remove her when she asked. You can listen to the recording here as far as the “laughter” is concerned — to me it sounds a lot less like someone laughing at a rape victim and a lot more like laughing at the weird legal idiosyncrasies of one of her cases as a young lawyer. Not classy, maybe. But not laughing at a rape victim, and not “getting off” the defendant, as some claim — plea bargaining isn’t the same as “getting off,” meaning being found not guilty.

This is how our legal system is supposed to work — lawyers do the best job they possibly can for their clients, because everyone is entitled to representation.

4. “What if she used her position as secretary of state to funnel hundreds of millions into her own foundation, much of it from nations that treat women and gay people worse than dogs?”

This whole area looks a little murky, but this particular claim also seems to be unsubstantiated. Here’s a pretty good overview of the situation. Charities are tricky, because they don’t have to precisely disclose the identities and amounts of donors, but you can go here to see cumulative giving (in large categories) from the Foundation’s donors. Metaxas is probably referring to:

  • Saudi Arabia: 10-25 million
  • Sheikh Mohammed H. Al-Amoudi (Saudi Arabia): 5-10 million
  • State of Kuwait: 5-10 million
  • Nasser Al-Rashid (Saudi Arabia): 1-5 million
  • Dubai Foundation: 1-5 million
  • Issam M. Fares (Lebanon): 1-5 million
  • Friends Of Saudi Arabia: 1-5 million
  • Amar Singh (India): 1-5 million
  • State of Qatar: 1-5 million
  • The Government of Brunei Darussalam: 1-5 million
  • The Sultanate of Oman: 1-5 million
  • United Arab Emirates: 1-5 million

“Hundreds of millions” looks like an exaggeration, but the real issue here is whether she used her position to get these donations. Keep in mind these donation amounts date back to 2007 and include those from both before and after her time as Secretary. This Politifact article goes through the various ethical landmines, and this one gives more detail on the accuracy of Trump’s pushback toward the Foundation. Some highlights: Hillary was not on the Board of Directors for the Foundation before or while she was Secretary, and Saudi Arabia (likely the main focus of Metaxas’s comments) did not donate during her tenure. It is difficult to definitively tell whether Hillary “used her position” to “funnel” money into the Foundation.

It’s true that some of these nations treat both women and the queer community badly. The government’s entanglement with them, however, is far from limited to possible overlap with the Clinton Foundation. To criticize that, we’d have to look much more closely at our own foreign policy — the Clinton Foundation, after all, is doing charitable work. What are we doing?

Somewhat separately, the similar accusation that the Clintons “lined their pockets” through the Foundation while she was Secretary of State is false. The Clinton Foundation has an A rating from Charity Watch, and 88% of its fundings goes to actual program costs rather than overhead, which is considered very good.

Worried about all this entanglement if Hillary becomes president? In that event, the Foundation will stop accepting foreign and corporate funds, and Bill will step down from the board. See more here.

5. “Since these things are true, can I escape responsibility for them by simply not voting?”

This felt a little disingenuous, like he could bolster his argument more by repeating to readers that his statements are true. But I take his second point — I agree that we can’t escape responsibility for these issues by simply not voting. We also can’t escape the much more serious issues that a Trump presidency would create.

6. “The anti-Nazi martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer also did things most Christians of his day were disgusted by. He most infamously joined a plot to kill the head of his government. He was horrified by it, but he did it nonetheless because he knew that to stay ‘morally pure’ would allow the murder of millions to continue.”

Out of context, this is a beautiful excerpt. I’m going to assume Metaxas is equating Christian voters, and not Trump, with Bonhoeffer, because it would be a tough argument to analogize trying to assassinate Hitler with bragging about sexual assault. What I’m struggling to understand is the implicit assumption here that not intervening in a Clinton win would be tantamount to watching the Holocaust without doing something. Whose Holocaust are we worried about right now? Mexicans? The press? Muslims? Political dissidentsWomen? Or maybe just an outbreak of preventable disease? I’m exaggerating — sort of. But I guess I’m unclear what Hillary’s corollary to the Holocaust is.

7. “It’s a fact that if Hillary Clinton is elected, the country’s chance to have a Supreme Court that values the Constitution—and the genuine liberty and self-government for which millions have died—is gone. Not for four years, or eight, but forever. Many say Mr. Trump can’t be trusted to deliver on this score, but Mrs. Clinton certainly can be trusted in the opposite direction.”

No, that’s an opinion, and one I’m a little confused by. This must be the aforementioned Holocaust metaphor. I’m going to take a wild guess and say we’re probably talking about abortion, gay marriage, “freedom of conscience” laws, and maybe the second amendment. Here’s the thing, though: the Constitution also includes freedom of the press, freedom of speech, equal protection of the law, due process, the right against cruel and unusual punishment, and freedom of religion for more than just Christians. See #1.

If you’re a one-issue abortion voter, I know there’s not a whole lot I can say to persuade you. Trump is certainly not a long-term pro-lifer, but he has pledged to appoint pro-life justices to the Supreme Court. The thing is, though, Roe v. Wade was 7-2 decision with some pretty conservative justices in the majority. It’s not nearly as liberal of a decision as people think, and I’m incredibly skeptical of his ability to get it overturned, especially because justices don’t always rule the way their appointing presidents expect. This seems to be one of the biggest ways Evangelicals find to make a decision in this election, and why they think Trump is better. I also think it’s a completely misguided attempt to accomplish something much more difficult than it would appear on its face.

Also, “forever”? Hillary would “ruin” the Supreme Court “forever”? I’m a little surprised to hear language that extreme and that unsubstantiated from him. I’m not sure how it would be possible that this would stop the Supreme Court from ever having a conservative majority again.

The judiciary is independent of the executive branch once they’re appointed. There’s only so much a president can do there. Yes, appointing Supreme Court justices is very powerful — powerful enough that I certainly don’t want Trump to do it — but our Constitution separates our governmental powers for a reason.

8. “If imperiously flouting the rules by having a private server endangered American lives and secrets and may lead to more deaths, if she cynically deleted thousands of emails, and if her foreign-policy judgment led to the rise of Islamic State, won’t refusing to vote make me responsible for those suffering as a result of these things?”

This is another one that’s a little impossible to have a conversation about. Here’s the New York Times on the timeline of what happened with the emails. Yeah, this was careless and stupid. Also, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice also did this. It sounds more like she was disorganized than “imperiously flouting the rules.” Also worth noting — WikiLeaks’s leaked Clinton emails? Looks like Russia was probably behind the hack, despite their denial of meddling in the election. Also, a Putin ally said the US had to elect Trump or face nuclear war, but I digress.

To the ISIS accusations: the roots of the terrorist group stretch back to 2004, way before Obama’s presidency or Clinton’s Secretary career. There is an argument to be made that the administration’s policy in Libya, which Clinton had a strong hand in, created a power vacuum that ISIS exploited. The trick there is whether we’re willing to say that the continued reign of an oppressive military dictator didn’t warrant intervention — foreign policy is more nuanced than saying what she did “led to the rise of the Islamic State.” ISIS relied on a broad range of elements, and Clinton’s foreign policy was only one of them.

Also, Trump’s foreign policy — well, several pages’ worth of Republic national security professionals say they refuse to work for him. A former head of the CIA under both Republican and Democrat administrations endorsed Clinton because he believes she is a capable leader and he would be “a poor, even dangerous, commander in chief” and “is already damaging our national security.” He wants to pull back from our allies, loves flattering Putin (who loves jailing dissidents and invading things), and doesn’t understand why he can’t use nuclear weapons.

9. “We would be responsible for passively electing someone who champions the abomination of partial-birth abortion, someone who is celebrated by an organization that sells baby parts. We already live in a country where judges force bakers, florists and photographers to violate their consciences and faith—and Mrs. Clinton has zealously ratified this. If we believe this ends with bakers and photographers, we are horribly mistaken.”

She doesn’t “champion” partial-birth abortions, she voted against a blanket ban that included no exceptions for the life and health of the mother — there’s a difference. In 2000, she said, “I have said many times that I can support a ban on late-term abortions, including partial-birth abortions, so long as the health and life of the mother is protected.” More recently, in March, she said, “I have been on record in favor of a late-pregnancy regulation that would have exceptions for the life and health of the mother.”

Planned Parenthood is not selling baby parts. They do donate tissue and costs can be covered. Only 3% of their budget goes to abortion (which does not, itself, get federal funding), and 45% goes to STI/STD testing and treatment.

The last bit of this section is a tricky issue, I think. In this country, you’re not allowed to discriminate. If your business is open to the public, you can’t refuse to serve someone who’s black or Hindu or in a wheelchair, and refusing to serve someone because they’re gay is discrimination. Whether you think people ought to be able to discriminate that way is a different question. We as Christians are called to love and serve everybody. I’m unconvinced that Trump will be the staunch defender of Christianity that he claims, considering his total lack of understanding of what Christianity is. It’s also worth noting here, again, that defenders of religious freedom need to advocate for religious freedom for everybody, not just themselves.

10. “A vote for Donald Trump is not necessarily a vote for Donald Trump himself. It is a vote for those who will be affected by the results of this election.”

I agree. It’s a vote for the Muslims who are afraid to be recognized, like the man who was kicked off a plane for saying “Inshallah.” For the press who shouldn’t be threatened for doing their job. For Mexican Americans whose character is called into question. For the women he can’t stop objectifying. For the victims of the largest refugee crisis in history who need our help.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Metaxas himself, from a blog post in June called “A Few (Passionate) Thoughts on America!

The fundamental idea of “exceptionalism” comes from the first pages of the Bible, and it means that God blesses a people in order for them to bless others. If this country has been blessed, and it has, that was always meant to be thought of as a way for us to use those blessings to bless the whole world. To bless immigrants and to bless those beyond our borders and to bless those within our borders who were struggling.

Let’s do that. Let’s go bless the world.

40 Days of Meaningful Fasting

Do you celebrate Lent? Lent is typically thought of as a season celebrated by the Catholic church and some high-church denominations, but it’s something that I’ve really been blessed by.

In case you didn’t grow up in the church or have no idea what I’m talking about, Lent is 40 days (which doesn’t count the Sundays) of fasting in preparation for Easter. Different people do it different ways: some give up something like chocolate until Easter, some engage in acts of service, and some fast from things like gossiping or complaining. Traditionally, you abstain from eating meat on Fridays in remembrance of the crucifixion (hence Friday fish fries) and don’t say “alleluia” in church in recognition of the solemnity of the season.

The season is 40 days long to echo Jesus’ temptation in the desert. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which is February 10th this year. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the day before, traditionally the day when people would make pancakes to use up the rest of their cooking fat before the fast. Of course, it’s also known as a day of going crazy for the same reason. Continue reading

Spending for Justice

Think about how much money you spend on a regular basis, just on basic things–on food, clothes, personal care products, and other pseudo-necessities. What if you could contribute to justice through these products you already buy all the time? Basically, without even changing much that you do? Check out the companies below and see how you can change your everyday purchases for justice. I was going to write a paragraph on each of them, but there are so many awesome companies with awesome causes, just click the links and see for yourselves!

Personal Care

You need soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, or body wash – Soapbox
You need soap, salt scrub, lip balm, or candles – Hand in Hand
You need a toothbrush – Smile Squared

Food/Beverages

You need gum or mints – Project 7
You need water bottles – Faucet Face
You need snack bars – 2 Degrees Food
You need peanut butter – Good Spread
You need bottled water – People Water Continue reading

Get Ready for #GivingTuesday: Here’s How to Celebrate

It’s been a whirlwind of a week — first Thanksgiving on Friday, and then basically a four-day long weekend of spending incentives, from Black Friday to Small Business Saturday to Cyber Monday. Somewhere along the line, though, somebody decided that after all that buying, it would be a good idea to establish a day for giving, and #GivingTuesday was born.

Giving Your Money

Here’s where most of us start, and why not? Giving Tuesday is a good time to take stock of your financial resources, which you’ve maybe been spending quite a bit of on yourself. But don’t just dump some money into the first charity you see and pat yourself on the back. Make sure you’re doing some homework so that you’re only donating to an organization that’s doing good work. Here are some resources for doing just that: Continue reading

Ethical Christmas Shopping

Yes, it is that time. Thanksgiving is behind us and Christmas before, which means we really need to get on our Christmas shopping. What do Christmas shopping and justice seeking have in common, you ask? Well, a time of this much spending is also a good time to figure out where our money is going. While you’re buying awesome Christmas gifts, why not buy awesome Christmas gifts from great ethical sources? Continue reading

Adventures in lunacy

As some of you know, a couple of weeks ago, I embarked on a very short-lived adventure/experiment. I had been reading this book called More or Less by Jeff Shinabarger (which, incidentally, I very much recommend to anyone and everyone). The purpose of the book is essentially to get you to re-think what is enough in your own life and to learn what to do with the excess. In order to accomplish this, Shinabarger uses something he calls “social experiments,” in which you start with a hypothesis, usually about something you or people in general have that is excess and you don’t need, and then you perform an experiment to test this hypothesis and to stand in solidarity with those who don’t have as much as you do.

I read the book and naturally wanted to do something about. What, I thought, was something I didn’t want to give up but could probably go without? My conclusion: my laptop. I wouldn’t get rid of it, but I wanted to see if I could go forty days without using it. Now, that’s not without using any computer, just using my own laptop. I reasoned that on such a tech-savvy campus (I go to Carnegie Mellon University, for those of you who don’t know), I should be able to go without having a personal computer. There are computer clusters everywhere, designed to help out people who don’t have computers or don’t/can’t carry them to campus every day. Continue reading