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    The Most Important Election of My Lifetime

    leslieI am torn between absolute elation and abject terror. Our democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, would not only be the first woman president and an extraordinarily qualified person, but we would also have a supporter of our community in the White House. She recently marched in the New York Pride Parade, becoming the first presidential candidate ever to do so. Her support—admittedly a position that, like President Obama’s, evolved—now fully embraces our community. A Hillary Clinton presidency would ensure that the gains we have made will continue.

    I am terrified, however, because there is still nearly 43% of the voting population supporting Trump, and this number will tighten as we get closers to November. He has evidenced a disdain for women, communities of color and the LGBT community. He also has a complete disregard for geopolitical nuance, and is utterly ill-prepared.

    Brexit is a warning that people are frightened. The economic recovery has still not reached many in this country, and voters are just plain tired of what they perceive as politics as usual. They fear immigrants will take their jobs, and I even heard a fellow on the radio say: “ISIS is coming to Palo Alto because of all these immigrants. We need our assault rifles.” Rationality has disappeared from many corners not only throughout the world, but also here in the U.S. The specter of a Trump presidency is real.

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    While I am so excited about at least one woman at the top of the Democratic ticket, I am afraid about what might happen if we become complacent. The old adage applies that “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” Certainly this is the most important election of my lifetime and we cannot sit back for a moment. Indeed, we need to all come together after the primaries, tone down the vitriol that has taken place between friends and allies, and unite to ensure that we elect Hillary in November.

    The two parties will have their conventions later this month. Even a few minutes spent perusing coverage of the two will demonstrate stark and scary differences. On the one side there is a party focused on fear, on closing our doors, targeting “others,” and returning to the “good old days.” We know what that means for the LGBT community and for choice, women, immigrants, people of color, Jews, Muslims, and the list goes on. Conversely, democracy embraces and celebrates our differences, includes us all, and looks at how we can create a better, more inclusive society focusing on bridging the deepening economic chasm between those with means and those without.

    I know what party I am proud to side with in this election. I am certainly ready for her!

    Leslie R. Katz is a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, was the co-author of the City’s Equal Benefits Ordinance, has served on the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee (as Chair, and as a general member), and serves on the California Democratic Party’s Executive Board. She is an attorney with a government law, policy and strategy practice, with a focus on emerging technologies.