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    The Wounds of This Election

    DebraWalker-bigger

    By Debra Walker

    I have spent the past several months looking into the eyes of the Hillary haters and needed a respite. I have spent the past several months looking into the eyes of the beast and needed  a respite. Our trips to Nevada for the Clinton campaign have been draining. As essential as that work is, it is emotionally exhausting.

    I have heard our presidential candidate being called a liar, not to mention every derogatory expletive hurled at women. It is beyond comprehension that a man who clearly disrespects women—and actually assaults women—is running so close in the polls to the most qualified  person for the job ever. The rampant sexism woven into our society and on display everywhere you look should shock anyone. I have been shocked that with all of his racism, bigotry, and heart lessness in cheating contractors and others, Trump still has been within striking distance of Clinton. The fact that 40% or so of the public still support him after the latest disclosures—and the allegations keep coming—is mind numbing.

    I thought helping out in San Francisco at a friend’s phone bank, and then attending a viewing party of the second presidential debate, would be a breeze. In the beginning, it was, yet as time passed, our volunteers were getting a reality check by calling into Nevada. So many volunteers came up to me, shocked and troubled by some of the extremely negative and vicious responses. Such responders were not in the majority, but it only takes one call where someone is swearing at your candidate and shouting out unrepeatable names while repeating unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, to make you tremble a bit.

    There I was, trying to tally phone bank results for a soft report as the packed phone bank became a debate watch party, and in the background on the screen is this large scary-looking man stalking and yelling at one of the brightest women of our time. The optics displayed the most bullying and prehistoric vision I can think of. I focused on the tally work, and prepared the data to take to the HQ. As I got on the bus to the HQ, I felt dismayed.

    I imagine every woman watching was horrified by the debate spectacle. It was a contrived piece of strategy on Trump’s part to engage in the sexism and to wrap it around Clinton. I cannot imagine what Hillary Clinton experiences as she literally suffers the “slings and arrows of this outrageous fortune” by running against such a bully, but I can certainly feel how familiar it is. Who among us women has not experienced that type of bullying from a man? Who amongst us has not been sexually pressured in some way or another? It has been shocking to see this blatant behavior from someone who is wanting to represent this country.

    Those of us who are working to elect Hillary Clinton and daily hear some voters’ trashing of her in the same horrific ways all experience moments of feeling emotionally wounded. When I took the bus that debate night, data in hand, I dropped the materials off at the headquarters, headed home, and there just broke down and sobbed for half an hour. I am a strong individual, but being in the vortex of the relentless Clinton-directed misogyny, which spilled over to myself and to so many others, was very disheartening.

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    Are people really so afraid of being led by a woman that they have lost their collective minds? Even friends on the left cast dispersions against Clinton that are truly unreal. As we come to the close of this campaign, with the likelihood of the most prepared and qualified candidate poised to win, the desperation grows proportionately. Witnessing Hillary Clinton standing strong against these assaults only solidifies her supporters’ commitment.

    Fortunately, there are lots of transformative stories that I can share; they far outnumber the negative ones. These include the veteran in Reno who expressed weak support for Trump as I knocked on the door of the motel where here he lived. This was a typical downtown Reno motel, where folks might have checked in for a short visit to Reno, but wound up still living there years later. As I spoke with him, kids were running and playing hide and seek in and out of broken-down cars in the parking lot. His apathy and feelings about voting grew from disgust and disappointment, primarily at a Veterans Administration system and country that seemed to forget about him and his service. He informed me that he had received a silver star, and many other awards for putting himself in harm’s way for our country, and the he now believes the country has let him down.

    I was able to share the positions of Clinton, who plans to increase benefits for our veterans. I could share that our candidate—because of her compassion, heart and effectiveness across the board—would provide vets like him with the respect and care they deserve. He burst into tears. This long forgotten individual just wanted a thank you from his country. He now feels that Hillary Clinton will offer that in a way that no one else can. He registered to vote for the first time and committed in writing that he will support Clinton. The exchange that I had with him was a form of healing in itself, as this man had clearly felt left behind for so long.

    Then there was a young 20-year-old whom I met. He claimed that he most likely shared the positions of the Green Party, but was not planning to vote because he thinks the process is all pointless. I listened as my canvassing partner, an immigrant from Israel, talked about what this election, this country and this candidate means to her. She passionately told him of her own life experience and how important freedom and the United States are to her. The two hugged and he too registered to vote for the first time in his life, even committing to vote for Clinton and to work as a volunteer.

    Both of these examples, and so many more, reveal to me how many people feel heartbroken and angry about our political system and how they believe it has let them down. Most do not want to hear that republican obstructionism is the cause, but they at least will listen to our own personal stories of why we still have hope and faith in caring leaders like President Obama and Hillary Clinton. We can be stronger together by carrying forward President Obama’s promise of  hope and by electing his choice for our nation’s top leader.

    Hillary Clinton has the potential to untangle the web of politics in order to achieve real results that would benefit the vast majority of Americans. She is rising above the sexism, the bigotry and the meanness spouted by Trump, and is offering her full potential up to us. We cannot afford to turn our backs on her as she will never stop fighting for LGBT rights and equality, racial justice, small businesses, and other issues of importance to our community. As Michelle Obama has said, “What I most admire about Hillary is that she never buckles under pressure. She never takes the easy way out. And Hillary Clinton has never quit on anything in her life.”

    Debra Walker is a Commissioner for the City and County of San Francisco Building Inspection Commission. A past president of the Commission, the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club and the San Francisco Arts Democratic Club, Walker is also an internationally recognized painter and printmaker. For more information: http://www.debrawalker.com/