Before Voting, Think About Your Daughter

My daughter turned 18 last month and I’m so grateful that she grew up in a country that has been steadily moving towards true equality for women. America’s slow march towards equal rights for all has fostered an environment where young women today, more than any time in history, finally believe they can accomplish anything a man can. Yet here we are, just a few days before one of the most important presidential elections in our country’s history, and we’re on the precipice of electing a man who will undeniably unravel so much of that progress with his behavior and views.

Despite all of the metrics (unemployment, GDP, etc.) that irrefutably support the notion that our country is in far better health today than it was when President Obama took office eight years ago, a huge percentage of Americans stand ready to elect Donald Trump President, despite all of his obvious flaws. It’s my belief that the undercurrent of this is a deep-rooted fear of globalization that runs through our populace like a live wire and manifests itself in a collective behavior and ideology that is shocking to so many of us.

I believe that 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombings and a few other events have surfaced this deep-rooted fear in us which far eclipses what I experienced growing up during the Cold War. Despite what so many of my successful, left-leaning friends think, that fear doesn’t lie only in the working class and uneducated. I’ve heard a group of ivy-league educated wall street execs tell me they’re voting for Trump and that they hope he “blacktops the middle east” and a tech CEO recently griped to me about paying for health care for “those fucking Mexicans crawling over the border” and how Trump will put an end to that.

Intellectually, I recognize and understand why so many are drawn to him. As much as I disagree with their perspectives, I can at least understand the ignorance driving their fears. When I was growing up, we were brainwashed into thinking that the Russians were evil and had a deep hatred for America. When I visited Russia after the wall came down, of course I quickly realized how wrong that was. I grew up fairly homophobic only to find myself close friends with a man I only later found out was gay. I was forced to reevaluate everything and expand my views. Even as an adult, I took my young daughter to Cambodia with an irrational fear lurking in the back of my mind of having her abducted into the sex trade, a preconceived notion I’m still ashamed of. All of those perspectives were rooted in my ignorance.

What I just can’t get my head around though, is how a father could possibly vote for a man that will undoubtedly enable behavior toward his daughter that would at the very least enrage him and at worst, have him reaching for the nearest shotgun. While it’s beyond my limits of belief, intellectually I can understand how some people might rationalize a vote for Trump. However, I simply cannot understand how a father with a daughter, if he really thinks about it, can cast that ballot.

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There’s no way to deny that Donald Trump is a scumbag when it comes to how he views and treats women (even the men I’ve spoken with who support him agree). I’ve played on sports teams, been in locker rooms and spent a few years living in a testosterone-driven fraternity and while I’ve certainly come across a few guys with Trump’s DNA (not many),  none of them have run for leader of the free world.

When the President of the United States says his vile misogyny is just locker room talk, it’s a message to every man in America that this type of behavior is acceptable. A President who says that you need to “grab ’em by the pussy” will enable and encourage millions of men to treat women far worse than Trump does. Is this really how you want your daughter thought of and spoken to? Is this the world you want your daughter to grow up in? When you stand in front of that ballot on Tuesday, understand that if you vote for Trump, you are complicit in creating a very dangerous environment for your daughter.

I challenge every father of a girl who’s even considering voting for Trump to take a few minutes and think about how he’d react if a man talked about or to his daughter the way Trump talks about women. Before you cast your ballot, talk to your daughter about how Trump’s words make her feel. Look her in the eyes and tell her you’re voting for a man that’s going to encourage behavior that rattles her self-esteem and makes her feel afraid for her safety. Do you want her to grow up in that environment or one where she believes she can even be President of the United States? Have that conversation with her this weekend. She’s your daughter and you know she deserves better.

1/20/12 – The Day We Took Our Country Back

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few days, you know by now that our country’s Senators and Congressmen have come under enormous pressure regarding the proposed SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act – HR.3621) and PIPA (Protect IP Act – S.968) bills.

I’m not going to go into the details of these bills (enough has been written elsewhere) other than to say that like many, I believe that better laws need to be crafted to thwart piracy but both SOPA/PIPA are completely over-reaching and at their core are essentially censorship bills (largely underwritten by large media companies and their lobbyists) that would be catastrophic if passed.

Yesterday, millions of Americans took to the internet to voice their displeasure. Thousands of companies blacked out their websites and millions of individuals did the same to their social media avatars and urged their friends and colleagues to contact their delegates to protest these bills. Here in Idaho, my friends in the tech and knowledge communities rallied and deluged our four delegates offices with phone calls, emails, and personal visits. We started the day with two of our delegates supporting the bills (including one who was a co-sponsor) and two undecided. By the end of the day, we had two opposed and two undecided, and this morning we’re at three opposed and one undecided. At the national level, support for both bills folded like a house of cards. Senators and Congressman dropped their support in droves.

And so it goes. This morning, Senaotor Harry Reid, author of the PIPA bill, released this statement via Twitter.

When I saw this, the hair stood up on the back of my neck.  In just 24 hours, we witnessed Americans mobilize and drastically influence important public policy, from their laptops and phones! 

Like most parents I know, I fret over the world we’re leaving our kids. Education, climate, jobs, healthcare all seem to be going in the wrong direction. Today though, I have a renewed sense of optimism for the future. Today the people have spoken and our leaders were forced to listen. If it could work in this instance, it can work for all of these other important issues.

Last night, my 6th grade son came home and asked me “if I knew what was going on with SOPA”, and “if I knew that Google was going to be shut down if SOPA happens.” We sat down and had a long chat about it during dinner. I brought my laptop to our family dinner and played some videos for both of my children showing them what these bills are and how it could effect them. It was a tremendous conversation and I was gratified as a parent to see their intellectual curiosity. I’m sure conversations like ours were going on at dinner tables all over the country last night.

Our work is not done. The supporters of PIPA and SOPA are motivated and extremely well-funded. We need to keep pressure on our country’s leaders to craft legislation which addresses the need to control piracy without trampling on the freedom of speech that makes America so very unique and the envy of the rest of the world.

I wasn’t around (my mother was pregnant with me) when the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed, but I was around the day that Ronald Reagan urged Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” and for me, today feels just as significant as those seminal moments. For me, I’ll remember today as the day we took our country back. I’m more optimistic about the future than I have been in a long, long time.