Privilege Blog

How I’m Voting And Why, Even If We Disagree On Several Things, You Might Do The Same, Or, Saturday Morning at 7:17am

Just when we can’t bear to listen to any more politics, it seems we must.

I am voting for Hillary Clinton. I tell you this because it appears that many more voters are undecided than I would have hoped.

There are many reasons why you might vote for Trump which will render my thoughts meaningless. I understand. In particular, your feelings about social issues, particularly issues with religious import such as gay marriage, women’s rights, abortion. Also your feelings about open borders, both inside and between countries, by which I mean (broadly) immigration, race, national defense, trade agreements. Those opinions will tend to narrow choices. They narrow mine.

But for those of you who still consider both, or neither, candidate(s) viable, I wanted to offer an idea very specific to this blog.


I can’t help but believe in our capacity to behave well. I can’t help but believe in leadership. Therefore I want a president who speaks in reasoned tones unless the threatening entity is actual and imminent and listening.

I know, ever since the FCC changed our broadcast rules, ever since the Internet broke into tiny shards, we hear a lot of hate. But it feels like we can still rise above.

But if the top speaks hatefully, how and where do we rise?

I do understand, only too well, the desire to enjoy Trump’s rudeness. There is a sort of charm in someone who doesn’t care. America likes a bold-faced anything. I liked Trump myself, on The Apprentice. The audacity. The bravado. But I could turn that show off.

You can’t turn off a national leader.

So please, if I could ask a favor, just consider the thought that civility matters. Let’s imagine for a moment that all else is a wash. Even if you’re tempted to endorse the brave business icon, which, I agree, can be appealing, imagine that abrasive bravado talking and deciding about issues that affect your life. Imagine insults as common currency of diplomacy and governance.

I can’t bear it. You? How do you feel about basic levels of courtesy in political discourse? Do you care?

We are going to extend this idea of civility to comments below. I thought about turning them off, dreading vitriol as I do. But that didn’t seem very civil. So we will set rules, trust in each other’s good behavior, and calmly close the door on those who won’t play. As functional societies do.

Do not say anything negative about the candidate you do not favor. And do not reply to other comments unless you want to say, “Hear, hear!” These are strict rules. I trust you.

Have a humane weekend.

177 Responses

  1. Interesting. I have been pondering this very idea for a while. As a UK citizen, I have been watching your run-up to the elections with interest and a degree of horror at the violent and vicious invective. Over here, we have just had our election for the Labour leader and there has been a very different tone for each candidate. I don’t think politics is the place to condone violence or hatred, to push the idea of harming another candidate or fellow politician – surely the point of politics is to transcend these views? Civility is important because it greases the wheels of civilised society. And it prevents us killing each other over a difference in opinion.

    1. I love your blog when you discuss fashion. Its why I subscribed. People of a liberal bent always present themselves as the civil ones and that things become uncivil when and only when you disagree with them. If you regard the person that you have declared on this blog that you are voting for as civil I guess that’s your choice. (redacted) It will be my choice therefore to take my blog following somewhere else where politics are not brought up at all.

      1. That’s of course your right. Sorry to see you go. I knew I would offend some, but I simply didn’t feel that in good conscience I could keep writing without making my position and my plea for civility clear. The blog is still about fashion, and home style, and gardens, and motherhood. But I had to say my piece.

  2. Hello Lisa, I just today got my vote-by-mail ballot. Your reflections on civility are spot on. People often claim that manners are only on the surface, but I disagree and I think that the issues raised in this election bear out this idea. I shudder to think of a future in which civility is only a distantly-remembered concept, or worse yet, a despised one.

  3. My problem is that I live in Suburban DC and am among the dwindling numbers who consider prior governmental experience to be a plus. In that regard Clinton has a resume that is good for the job. When Bill left office I was glad, glad, glad to see him go. I was tired of the Gap dress and their endless scandals. Despite my low personal opinion of the Clinton’s I liked their position on social issues, particularly her “legal but rare” stance. Women’s issues count for me.

    (Paragraph redacted. Although this was a very civil paragraph, I am going to be a stickler, and take out anything that says anything unfavorable about anyone. Thank you in advance for any understanding you can give me.)

    The Republicans aren’t going to lose control of Congress, well maybe the Senate but it will still be very close there, so I think a vote for Clinton as a vote for balance across the government is what I will be casting.

    1. @RoseAG, This is such a thoughtful comment. As yours always are. I really apologize for cutting out a paragraph, you were very civil, but, I am going to stick to my own rules very aggressively to avoid conflict. I’ll go bold the sentence about not saying anything about the candidate you do not favor, I probably didn’t make it clear enough.

  4. Lisa, I agree totally. When civility is lost, we will have lost any hope for a future of decency, compassion and promise.

  5. Thank you..Civility matters, diversity matters, our children and their futures matter, equality in all areas of life matter. I would rather build our politics by each of us getting involved from the ground up, than the prospect of scorched earth. I’m with you and I’m with her!

  6. Absolutely! Especially when I’m travelling, as I’m about to do today, I often look around at my fellow passengers and marvel at how much of our lives/lifestyles depend on a mostly unwritten social contract. And I shudder at the thought of us trying to live together without those basic ingrained niceties. Yes, they differ somewhat from culture to culture, country to country, but civility, respect for another human’s dignity, we really can’t afford to lose…

  7. If I were American,I would vote for Hilary.
    Because,yes ,civility matters,nice manners matters,equality and respect matters,so,I’m with you and have hope in your fellows citizens of USA,as well!
    I have lived through dark times when voices of hartred have lead to a war between neighbours,words of hartred are very dangerous-voices of reason must prevail!

    1. Thank you for sharing your perspective.

      A dear friend of mine has relatives who were holocaust survivors. Some of them are experiencing panic attacks and strong anxiety responses to the current climate of hatred here. It’s very upsetting to hear the similarities between nazi Europe and modern day US. I really hoped we as a species would learn from our mistakes…

  8. Thank you for this post.

    Hear, hear! Like you, I’ll be voting for Hillary Clinton. So will my husband. To us, this choice seems the right one due to Secretary Clinton’s personal, family and social values, considerable intelligence, strong education, deliberative temperament, and vast experience in the realms in which a President must work.

    At 70 years old, I’m also in the mood for a President who has a vagina and cares about women’s rights and interests.

    And to veer back toward our interests in fashion/Fashion, below is a link to an image of the memento jewelry I recently requested and received from my husband as a twentieth anniversary present. It is a chic, understated piece for a Sturdy Gal and equally effective as a Hillary campaign button:

  9. I suspect the so-called “undecided” voter in this election cycle may indeed be wearing civility behind that mask. I suspect he/she is fully committed to his/her candidate of choice, yet simply does not want to start or enter or provoke what can quickly become a nasty brawl, hence the defensive position of claiming Undecided status. I know I’m that way, undecided that is.

    1. @Flo, That is very interesting. I can imagine how that might be true, especially if one is a lone voice of one leaning in the middle of a throng of voices for the other direction.

  10. Absolutely, civility matters, so when I say Trump rules, I certainly hope my comments will be respected.

    There are only 2 qualifications for president–age and citizenship. Nowhere does it say the candidate needs to be a lawyer or politician….nowhere. The idea that any of us can run for president is what makes this country greater and stronger. Trump’s candidacy shows us what can be accomplished with very little money and a strong grass roots organization…..Bernie’s did too. Trump is a proven negotiator which is what we need now more than ever. Trump is also a proven success in the capitalist system….he has proven he can meet a payroll, make a profit, and put the money to good use. Those skills show effective leadership. Sure,,,,he has made mean, atrocious statements…..that’s is the nasty side of politics. It happens every election because negativity wins. I refuse to buy into the media hype that one candidate is a shining example of perfection while the other is filled with flaws. I’m with Trump.

    1. @Jane, What about facts? what about reality, does that matter? (redacted) we haven’t touched intelligence, integrity, racism, misogyny, and plain and simple stupidity. But let’s keep it all polite.

  11. A strong economy allows for and demands a civilized society. In a weak economy, people behave in very uncivilized ways. Before you vote, consider which candidate understands how to build the strongest economy.

  12. A very thoughtful post, Lisa. Like you, I am voting for Hillary. Civility and respect for others is so important in both the domestic and foreign arenas. My decision is also based on Hillary’s intelligence, experience, curiosity about the world, concern for others and commitment to our constitutional ideals. One of the most important reasons for my vote, however, is the Supreme Court.

  13. I was lucky to serve as a congressional aide and later as a gubernatorial aide during the years in which elected officials thought it was their job to work together, build coalitions and compromise to resolve issues facing their constituents. Today, as a political science professor, it is so hard to try to explain the lack of civility and behavior that most of us would not tolerate from pre-schoolers. We deserve more than this not just from presidential candidates but from anyone who wants to serve the public in elected office.

  14. I hear what you are saying and I, too, am with Hillary. I am relieved to read here that fellow commenters support and endorse civility in public discourse and in our political candidates.

  15. Manners and civility are very important to me and i believe that we should all behave appropriately…especially people who are in the limelight and hold public office positions…think how well behaved the Queen is and then you’ll know where i am coming from!

  16. Like you, Lisa, I will be voting for Hillary. Civility is very important to me and the kind of name calling we have sometimes heard in this year’s politics are an anathema to me. I do believe that experience in Government is important as well.

    As an aside, we have a disabled child in our family. Respect for the disabled is very important to everyone in our family. No surprise there.

    We also value immigrants–not being many generations removed from old countries ourselves.

    At this point, I’m concerned about our diplomatic relations with other countries–both friend and foe. Recklessness in foreign policy scares me.

    While no candidate is perfect (especially in this election), I find that I have to cast my vote for Hillary.

    1. @Susan D., All of those issues you mention here are important to me too. In particular, I want to comment on what you say in terms of experience in government. While I understand the desire to cast government experience as being something indicative of
      “insiderness,” from my years in the corporate world I find the same behavior there. In spades. Why dislike people who have chosen to try to work for society, one way or another? I think it’s something we as a country might work on.

  17. For me, it is about the Supreme Court. Hard won rights are at risk. That said, our Founders set up a system of checks and balances so that neither candidate has the power to be as bad as his/her opponents fear. Whenever I despair the lack of civility in politics and what that might portend, I remember the election of 1800. Somehow, the American Experiment has survived.

    1. @DocP, I agree about the Supreme Court, and I can only hope that those checks and balances can still play the role they were designed to play. May the American Experiment flourish for centuries more.

  18. I think one must distinguish between two sources of civility – that in the discussion of political points of view amongst friends and colleagues, and that between political opponents. Neither candidate has been ta paragon of virtuous civility. However, to a certain degree, that is the nature of the beast. I will be voting for Mr, Trump as a means of reforming a political system that rewards its own. I, for one, agree with a strong military, a focus on the rights, privileges and responsibilities – and protections – afforded to and required of its citizenry. And, as imperfect as our political process is, then tension, the balance between divergent ideas is such that no one ever gets everything that they want, is what makes this system endure as it has.

    1. @Christine M., Point taken. Politicians often yell at each other. I suppose the lack of civility I find so painful began with candidates being appalling rude about the citizenry itself.

    1. @Rosie, That man is 96 years old and still one of the most beautiful writers I know. To go from covering baseball, to this. He speaks as a war veteran too, and has, for years.

    2. @Mamavalveeta03: copy the entire url (not just the first line) and paste it into your browser.

      Alternatively, Google “my 19th presidential election”.

      And read away :)

    3. @Rosie,
      I’m catching up on the blog, and I read Angell’s column. Then I read a few more. Now I’m planning to read everything he’s written. Somehow I’ve never read him before.

      I was interested to read that E. B. White was his stepfather. He referenced a poem I love, Conch. Thank you for the link.

      And, hear, hear to the column.

  19. I’m not voting as many people feel, for the lesser of two evils. I’m a staunch Hillary Clinton supporter for so many reasons which I don’t need to go into here. But yes, your post is just one of them. I have nothing but admiration for her and feel she has been badly mistreated by the media. Thanks for this very thoughtful and “risky” post.

    1. @Kathy, You are welcome. I do so wish that truthful media and solid reporting could find a good business model to be widely accessible.

    2. Sadly, the news has been delegated to entertainment. Anything to keep people watching round the clock.

  20. As a Clinton supporter who lives in a rural, conservative part of California, and is involved in a conservative-leaning occupation (farming), I am often singled out as “The Liberal Friend” (which I think is kind of funny, given the rather centrist nature of my politics). I have to actually work to avoid being a political punching bag for friends and acquaintances, even some family members around the Sunday dinner table. Somehow over the last 20 years or so, we have gotten to a place where we can’t merely disagree with someone in public life, but must instead view them as evil incarnate, which is not helpful for civil discourse, nor polite dinner conversation. The media my family and others consume normalizes such behavior to an extent that my usually kind, otherwise scrupulously polite family and friends can’t see what they’re doing. I don’t see that going away anytime soon if broadcast “news” continues to be not a public service, but a very lucrative branch of the entertainment industry.

    On a different note, as someone whose income depends on favorable trading relationships with other countries (ag export), Clinton is the only logical candidate. In commodities export, even a failure in one major market can tank prices overall. Our whole region’s economy depends on ag, not just the farmers’ bottom line.

    1. @Kristina, I can only imagine how hard it is to have these hard and fast political lines divide a family.

      I am very interested to hear that you, in agricultural business, and a family business, feel that Clinton’s economic policies are better for you.

    2. @Kristina, My brother-in-law is a small business owner and says that without ObamaCare, he would not have had the health insurance he needed for his cancer treatments.

  21. Thank you Lisa. Hear Hear
    Like Kathy I am also a staunch Hillary supporter for many different reasons not the least of which is her work for women’s and children’s rights.
    I will leave it at that.

    1. @Lynn, Thank you in return. I will never forget reading the studies showing the impact on societies of educated women. It’s amazing what it does, not just for women, but for everyone.

  22. Talking to no one in particular, mumbling in my most civil tone: is it because I’m armchair omniscient that #hairofthedog seems such an effective rhetorical defusing strategy? I guess not, because “no one” is using it. USE IT!

  23. I am voting for Hillary. That has been my choice from the beginning. I think she has flaws…I wouldnt choose her for a friend (although my niece is a friend, knows her well, has been to her home, and adores her). But I think that in every election, candidates tend to run on domestic issues, while much of the job demands understanding of the complex nuances of foreign policy, and while I may not agree with her 100%, and I don’t, I am frightened by a candidate that gives that short shrift.

    Civility counts, and qualifying that to mean more than nice manners and extending it to include cultural sensitivity, then yes, it is another reason to exclude Trump.

    Civil discourse is, sadly, a lofty goal. I hope you can maintain it.

  24. I will vote for Hillary for all the reasons previously cited by your thoughtful (and civil) readers. Plus we share the same alma mater. I may not agree with those who support Trump but I know they, too, have their reasons. What upsets me more are those who will not vote at all because they dislike both candidates. Those who do not exercise their civic responsibility to vote have no right to complain about the government . As Joseph de Maistre wrote, “Every nation gets the government it deserves.

  25. I heard a commentator on the subject of decorum and civility call our country the Jerry Springer show…Unfortunately, this is more truth than fiction…more sadness than humor. One of your posters, Lynn, alluded to how we don’t allow this type of behavior in children and yet, this is the national norm today…
    I started this campaign for president being very gender proud…Hillary, our first woman president…Now, I am rather supporting Hillary because it is the necessary step for preserving our democracy…Hillary, indeed, is the (redacted) grown up in the room..
    Thank you for bringing this topic to light…These are indeed very serious times..

    1. @Deede, Please excuse me for redacting a few of your terms. Although I might agree, I’m just enforcing rules I think are probably necessary. Thank you for understanding. And I agree completely, Jerry Springer really isn’t the culture I want to support. :(

  26. I live in a state that receives no attention from Presidential candidates (Massachusetts) for which I am grateful.

    However the commercial Hillary’s campaign has done about what kind of President do we want for our daughters would convince me if nothing else did. (redacted)

    If you have daughters, and you haven’t seen this ad, you owe it to yourselves to watch. (Redacted). I feel no compunction to be civil to him.

    If by some (redacted) chance he wins, I will find ways to subvert

  27. Civility is important but that is not the only reason I am voting for Hilary. I am voting for her because I believe she is the candidate who will look out for the little guy, and who will have the intelligence to deal with the complex issues a national leader faces in this newly volatile world. I think Hilary has also gotten a very bad rap that is undeserved from many sources, including the far right and most of the media. The idea of bringing her husbands former lover to the debates was the icing on the cake. What on earth does that have to do with the complex issues that need to be discussed?

    I am a teacher and we do not allow bullying and name calling. We ask our students to be respectful when they disagree.

  28. As an NYC resident of some 35 years, I really can’t vote for Trump. Just can’t. Voting for Hillary seems like a no-brainer to me, really. But honestly, even if she had a better opponent, I would probably still vote for her.

    1. @joannawnyc, I would love to read an article in the New York Times of short interview after short interview with New Yorkers sharing their opinions and experiences with Trump. Both good and bad.

  29. Not commenting on anything political as not a resident and feel it is not my place. However, have to comment on “ever since the Internet broke into tiny shards, we hear a lot of hate”. Lisa, your expression that the internet broke into tiny shards perfectly encapsulates my concerns on the relentless microscopic examination of life today and very importantly political campaigns, leaders and potential leaders. Thank you for expressing it so elegantly. It reinforces, my long held belief that quality radio is the first choice for news . (I say this from an Australian perspective as have no experience of radio here in the US.)

    1. @Yvonne, In America liberals would say the same about NPR (National Public Radio.) I don’t know what news source conservatives consider to be of good quality.

  30. This is an interesting conversation and I applaud you for bringing it up. Unfortunately, I do not find ether candidate kind or civil. Their running mates – quite possibly. The candidates themselves, absolutely not.

  31. I’m a Young Republican but have said since well before the Republican primaries that I couldn’t support Trump since he lacks civility. As the election draws closer, I hem and haw about whether I can vote for my party knowing that I’m voting for someone rude. I want a respectful president, but I also want a president who stands for at least some of the things I value. It’s a dynamic election for sure, but I don’t feel the same excitement for it that I did six months ago when there were more Republican candidates on the table.

    1. @JC, I’m a lifelong Democrat, and a Bernie supporter, but in the words of someone you probably don’t respect, I feel your pain. I have a very large family, with a great variety of political views and socioeconomic circumstances. My well-to-do entrepreneurial Republican relatives and I usually find, at the end of long discussions, that we want exactly the same things, but I believe in government as the way to accomplish them and they don’t. And their negative opinions of the efficacy of government are well-founded in their experiences as small business owners. I also have relatives who are at the other end of the economic spectrum. Midwest working class to lower class. Very limited opportunities, very limited experiences. They see themselves as victimized by certain changes in society/economics that I see as advances. I believe that they blame the wrong people/developments but they are definitely victimized. The problem is that I don’t think that either candidate really understands or cares about them. Bernie does.

  32. Thank you, Lisa, for having the courage to write and share this thoughtful, elegantly written post. I have always believed that I should support (not merely tolerate) our president, even the ones I disagree with politically. I’ve thought about how I will respond should should our next president not be Hillary. I fear it would be very difficult to give the support that I normally would give the individual holding the office. The lack of civility and rational argument might be impossible to forget.

  33. I’m for her, too — and thank you for your post. I hope that younger voters will not be so discouraged by rampant incivility that they stay home on November 8. Never has a presidential election seemed so consequential.

  34. I was (and remain) a staunch Bernie supporter. My husband and I made repeated donations to his campaign, I spent hundreds of hours phone banking for him, and I saw him speak twice – once at Town Hall here in NYC, where he outlined his policies to reign in Wall Street, and the other time at a huge rally in Washington Square Park, with an estimated 27K people inside the park, and another 20K who couldn’t get in. I was surprised and devastated when Bernie didn’t win the nomination, given his popularity, and disappointed when I learned about the irregularities during the Democratic Primary (voter suppression, vote flipping, registrations changed without authorization, serious discrepancies in exit poll data across a number of states, e.g.) Since we can’t do write-in votes for Bernie here in NY State my husband and I will cast our votes for Jill Stein of the Green Party because her progressive platform is most closely aligned with Bernie’s.

    1. While New York is not a swing state, our system makes it practically impossible for third party candidates to win. I would hope anyone considering voting for any third party candidate would consider possible unintended consequences if they live in a swing state.

    2. @DocP,

      Completely agree. Unfortunately, voting systems sometimes make it necessary to cast purely strategic votes, and opt for the lesser evil.

    3. @Sheila, I am sorry you feel this way. I understand your disappointment over your candidate’s loss, especially when complicated by the election process issues.

    4. Sheila, I was also a Bernie supporter–and contributed multiple times. I wish he was our candidate. Even so, I find that I have to vote for Hlllary. I’m not happy about it, but feel that it is my best choicer for reasons many have explained.

    5. @Sheila, Sheila, I am also a NY Bernie supporter and I believe that he would have won the nomination if the Democratic Party hadn’t subverted the process and if the media had taken him seriously from the start. I am going to change my registration after the election, and leave the Democratic Party after a lifetime of strongly supporting it. I will vote for Hillary with mixed feelings. I admire and support her in some ways but in others I am disgusted. I will not cast a protest vote, even though it’s safe to do so in NY, partly because Bernie is supporting Hillary.

  35. I watch American politics with a mix of fascination and horror. We lived in the USA for four years and during those years I struggled to understand the system. But most of all it is the pure vitriol that I find so incredible, as an outsider viewing from France, it seems it is a quest to see who can be the most vicious. What happened to basic politics and who is going to run the country better?

    1. @Our French Oasis, I just do not know. I myself hope it will be Hillary, but no matter who becomes president, I hope the party that loses can work towards constructive civil process, not name-calling and finger-pointing.

  36. I just want to say that many people elsewhere in the world, who cannot vote in the US election, are terrified, completely terrified, by the idea of Trump becoming the President of the most powerful nation on Earth.

    For better or worse, a US election is not just an internal matter – it affects the entire world. And having (redacted) in a position in which (they are) able to start a war or control over nuclear weapons is a nightmare.

    1. @aa, Thank you for your thoughts, my apologies for the redaction, I hope you understand my reasoning. You know I agree with you.

  37. This for those of you who are still on the fence. Please read “Hell to Pay” then make up your own mind about Hillary’s civility.

    Barbara Olsen, the author, was a very well respected Washington area journalist. Unfortunately, the book never received the attention it deserved because Barbara was killed in the 911 attack. She was due to start her book tour that week!

    I want a President who tells the truth. I want a President who will put American citizens and LEGAL residents first. I want a President who will create strong borders and a strong military. I want a President who actually understands how business works and the challenges business owners face. I want a President who will stand up for me if ever I were to be serving the U.S. overseas. I want a President who will face our enemies and make THEM blink!

    TRUMP all the way!

    1. @Carol, While I disagree about 80% as to whether your wants are fulfilled by your candidate, and I certainly want different things, I also have to commend you for a wonderful job of making your points and following my rules scrupulously. I think you advance our jointly held agenda, i.e. civility, by so doing. Thank you.

    2. I remember Barbara Olson fondly. I mourned her death. One of my closest friends from my high school days was on the same flight and lost his life. Even so, I will have to say that I seldom agree with Ms. Olson’s views. While Hillary Clinton is not my first choice for a Presidential candidate, I find her honesty , experience, and temperament to be far superior to that of Trump.

    3. To Susan D, Believe it or not, I actually liked Bernie Sanders. I think he ran a very honest, decent campaign. Unfortunately, he did not have the Party Machine, Establishment connections or a huge War Chest like his opposition. And at least he is honest and admits that he is a Socialist.

      I also agree with Lisa about changing society from the ground up. However, I want to do it the American way – voluntarily and without government imposing the rules. President Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” He did not say “what you MUST do for your country or what you WILL do for your country.”

      The United States was built by rugged individuals who did their own thing yet supported each other in times of need. When you insert government institutions in between individuals, people get frustrated and stop talking to each other as people. Look around.

      We don’t need a “Village” or a giant commune. We need more personal accountability, individual volunteerism and the Golden Rule.

    4. @Carol, I think you’ve pointed out one of the most important differences between liberal and conservatives – the contrast between believing in world of rugged individuals vs. hoping for a village in which interdependency is central. I think these world views are deeply rooted, and for the most part unchangeable. Perhaps even hard-wired; certainly emotional vs. logical. Human beings;).

    5. @Carol, “We don’t need a “Village” or a giant commune. We need more personal accountability, individual volunteerism and the Golden Rule.” Thank you – I couldn’t agree more.

  38. Let me add one more thing – and of course you may delete at any point, Lisa: as a Jew, watching the actual Nazis (not just wannabies), KKK, and all the extreme right raising their ugly heads and enjoying a warm welcome (redacted), excuse me for not giving a fuck about civility, but instead having real nightmares that involve the Holocaust, and mass deportations.

    1. @Dalit Fresco, I excuse you altogether, and I think your position, and your experience is so, so important. I redact your naming of the opposition candidate only because I must abide by my own rules, not because I want to.

  39. Thank you for opening and moderating a CIVIL conversation about a very important subject.
    I am saddened that, even among friends, we cannot discus our national politics. We ‘just don’t go there’. And that is a grievous loss for the ongoing conversation that is at the foundation of democracy.
    I really feel the when we stop communicating we begin the process of extinction. That happens in friendships, marriages, jobs, now our national discourse is all but lost.
    I feel that a fact based, rational discussion should not be seen as the realm of some elite intelligentsia, but the conversation among equals, respect given to backgrounds, education and experience. I want to know how those with different lives and experiences think. It educates me, and broadens my compassion. Now we are left with name calling opinion fire fights instead of conversations based on independent, critical thinking. Heartbreaking.
    I am only 54, but I hear in my nostalgia echoes of my parents’ lament for the good old days. Except my good old days are not the girdle clad , white male dominated Eisenhower and Regan old days that they longed for…I miss the intelligent broadcast journalism, and the protest songs and the right to
    I believe that if the election of President were like an interview for a job and we simply looked at resumes and experience there would be none of this nonsense going on. I think if candidates for President had to pass a basic knowledge of Constitutional law and American History and world geography and events, that would eliminate a lot of pretenders to the office. Really. We have to pass a written test for a drivers license, why not for Presidential candidates?

    I feel that there is so much at stake in this election and it is much more than who sits in the Oval Office. It is a reflection of our national character and how we identify ourselves in the world.
    Who do we want to represent us on the world stage, in the pages of history?

    I know which candidate I am voting for.
    Honestly, I just can’t wait until this is all over.

    1. @Diane Santarella Lawrence, You are welcome. And I so appreciate your eloquence given the constraints I have impose. It is a reflection of our national character. And I feel so much love of and identification with America, I am all the more saddened by the outcry of hatred and anger.

  40. I think that a lot of what is going on is that of “casting frustration ballots”. I’ve heard people say that the driving force behind their vote is that they’re using their vote against a candidate/party/platform rather than for one…those votes will go to a candidate by default. We clearly have a lot of social problems that are not successfully being addressed and that are quite divisive and behind a lot of what’s happening.

    I don’t think any news channels are objective. Most are liberal and some are conservative but none of them seem to be balanced and objective. News channels want to run 24/7 and to do so, they keep repeating themselves and often speculating what might have caused an incident. I remember growing up when the news simply reported the news. They didn’t assemble 4 talking heads in squares to pontificate particular points of view. Of course, that is less effective than it could be, as most of the time the talking heads are talking over each other, drowning out what’s being said. Actually, in my opinion, drowning out the rambling is better than hearing it.

    I don’t think that government service was ever meant to be a stepping stone into big business and lucrative private positions via lobbyists, but it seems to be the way things are going in both The Executive Office and Congress.

    These are just my opinions. I have no remedies. I wish I did.

  41. The whole thing is one big mess and I honestly can’t say that our votes actually count, as even if one of those candidates wins the popular vote by a landslide, the electoral college can still decide to choose the other candidate.
    (redacted) What has already been done to this country, by our own government, makes me sick. We cannot bear up under more of the same. (redacted) We are sheep being led to a slaughter, America!

    1. @Lisa Chavez,
      You just expressed exactly what I meant in my first paragraph. Too many people don’t feel represented, so they are left voting for what they feel is the “lesser evil of two bad choices”. Those who actually believe in one of the candidates has an easier road I think. For the rest, there seems to be less hope….and feelings of being marginalized.

    2. @Lisa Chavez, I had to redact a lot of your comment. I hope you can understand my actions, I am simply abiding by the rules I set to keep the thread as truthful but as positive as possible. Thanks.

  42. Lisa, Thanks for having the guts to publish how you feel. So many people are afraid to as we are so polarized! I am in total agreement about Hilary being the best candidate for the job. I’m just looking for a better world and hopefully many others are as well. I don’t want to go backwards in time (redacted.) We must move forward and make a better world for each new generation, more inclusive, welcoming and caring. (redacted). Kim

    1. @kim, Thank you for your comment. Despite my agreement with your express wish to keep moving forward, I had to cut out reference to the opposition candidate. I think your point is just as strong. <3

  43. I’m with her!! And you. Thank you for this brave post. Reminds me of what my mother always used to say to us: “If you can say something nice about someone else, don’t say anything!”

    1. @Judy, oops – I meant to type “If you CAN’T say something nice about someone else, don’t say anything!” (Sorry Mom) :)

  44. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for honestly sharing your perspective on the presidential candidates. Hillary Clinton’s presidency would be a significant point in U.S. history. The debates begin tonight, so I’m interested to discover how they effect voters.


  45. Quick P.S. to say how much I enjoyed last night’s debate. I am so impressed by Hillary Clinton’s readiness to be POTUS.

    What an amazing democracy America is. It continues to be the messiest, most beautiful political miracle in the world. I am so grateful to every single person who helped to create and sustain our political system. God bless America.

  46. Dear Lisa,

    I have recently removed myself from most social media due to this election. There are so many sources to glean opinions from–and I look to my favorite blogs for an escape from the constant chatter.
    I was disappointed to read about the election on your blog–and yes, you have every right to state your opinion. However civil, you have lost a long time reader.
    BTW–I grew up in a most liberal Massachusetts family, and am an Independent.

    1. @MM, Let me react quickly and therefore revealingly. I’m disappointed that you’re leaving. I’m not changing the topic of the blog. Saturday mornings I always reserve to write about whatever is on my mind, and I plan to keep writing about style, and going forward to keep the weekend musings to their usual bent*.

      But I debated for a long time about saying anything on the election and my conscience and a sense of urgency insisted that I speak up.

      I thought I’d found a way we could all talk, and agree at least that we’d like a civil environment. Find a common ground, and still disagree. Perhaps I might persuade a few to vote my way, I admit.

      I hoped to have built enough goodwill to be allowed this moment. Seems I was wrong. I understand. No matter what I do here, the world will say what it will say, and we do all need escape. Sorry I couldn’t keep providing that to you. All the best.

      *Can I not bring you back with promises of little black dresses and Japanese anemones this week? Ah, perhaps not.

  47. Thank you for this post,Lisa. I am from your Mother’s generation, so I have seen many elections come and go.This election,however, frightens me because there is a chance that a candidate ,so absolutely not qualified by reason of temperament, could have (gender redacted) finger on the nuclear button,could deny climate change and could nominate the next supreme court justice. For the sake of the world may reason prevail. And once again, thank you. xo

    1. You are very welcome. I am so glad to have the voice of my mother’s generation. Were she able, I know she’d be out stumping. I redacted the gender part of your comment, but your words are civil.

  48. Really interesting comments, thanks Lisa. So interesting to read people’s views. As a New Zealander now living in the U.K., like others from around the world, I’ve watched this election with growing horror… I cannot believe how long it takes and how expensive it is and how limited it makes your choices.

    Then again, the UK hasn’t got much to boast about in its system. I really miss New Zealand’s proportional representation which helps to bring a variety of parties into power and create a more balanced power base (in my opinion). I also find the ‘left’ in both the US and UK to be pretty far right.

    For interest, here’s an article about a few different ways of doing democracy. It might help some to realise that America didn’t invent (or arguably perfect) democracy.

    1. @Eleanorjane, I didn’t know about New Zealand’s system, thanks for that info. To say nothing about all those details on other country’s systems. I am never sure how much other ways apply to the US, given our size, but probably more than I imagine.

    2. @Eleanorjane, I am just finishing up reading Ron Chernow’s book Alexander Hamilton and I think the difference between New Zealand and the U.S. is the size of the United States. Our many different regions have differing priorities and interests. So, I do believe that our form of government suits us best.

      1. Understood. The size and regions do make us fairly unique – unless we look at China and India, which of course have wholly different histories.

  49. I wish I had a candidate who would bring me the unbridled joy I saw in my friends of color when President Obama was elected.

    I imagine it was similar to President Kennedy’s win, but am far too young to remember ;)

    1. @Patsy, I felt unbridled joy when Obama was elected. That our country could come so far. And yet, I can imagine that in comparison to many African Americans my happiness was a drop in the bucket.

    2. @Patsy, I am old enough to remember JFK’s election. I was 11 and it was the first time that I paid any attention to politics. I was Irish Catholic, in an Irish Catholic neighborhood, and there was great joy when he was elected, and devastation when he was assassinated.

      I, too, felt great joy when Obama was elected, and great pride in the country. But the most moving scene to me was the crowds of African-Americans lining the route of the Inaugural parade, many crying, many holding up photos, presumably of ancestors. One man had his coat covered with photos in plastic sleeves.

      This video brings the night back for me:

      Obama looked so young. And those beautiful girls were so young. I loved seeing Biden’s elderly mother come out.

  50. OK, Hillary, you get my vote for Captain of the Debate Team. I will even throw in an Emmy for a great, well-rehearsed performance.

    However, talk is cheap and is as ephemeral as hot air. Group hugs, “hope”, and choruses of Kumbaya may be fun but are only effective in the short-term. (redacted).

    Mr. Donald J. TRUMP for Mr. President!

  51. I don’t necessarily agree with the idea of civility as a keystone of democracy. It seems to me that it is a privilege of the ruling class (or gender, race, religion etc) to be able to claim decorum is on their side, effectively ossifying the status quo. Change is often only brought about by unruliness and upheaval of the accepted norms of discourse – I’m thinking of the profoundly positive indecorousness of the suffragettes, or of those who fought for racial equality.

    To my mind, the difficulty here isn’t lack of civility – it is an extraordinary and deeply entrenched sense of privilege, on the part of one candidate and the associated electors, and their fear that the social and demographic changes which the last century has brought will undermine that privilege. Frightened people often behave poorly, in my experience at least – and all the more so when they are being encouraged to view their poor behaviour as evidence of their righteousness.

    Sadly, I think that the only way to get beyond this particularly shabby period in political history is just to press ahead – the world HAS changed, after all, whether or not certain people find it profoundly unsettling.

    So (albeit as an Australian with no skin in the game) I hope that the USA votes for a candidate who represents some of that amazing and largely positive change. Even if you do, Clinton will still have a very rough run, I’m sorry to predict – much much rougher than any of her male colleagues ever would have had. Our own Julia Gillard had an atrocious time – but I think that history will view her tenure more fairly, and hopefully Clinton’s too. And if you need any evidence of the role for “robust” debate in this respect, this may gird your loins: We may not always be civil in our politics, but we do get some bloody good speeches!

    1. @Elizabeth, You make a very good point. I would not advocate for civility under entrenched oppression. And I don’t really expect politicians not to yell at each other, or to avoid full-throated speeches. I just have the feeling that these days elected officials feel freer to insult large parts of our population. And that, in light of where we as a society have come, seems both regressive and morally bankrupt.

    1. @Susan, Oh goodness yes. No matter how exhausting arguments can be. I think it takes so much work to try to stay in a debate without losing one’s temper. Or maybe that’s just me.

  52. I have gone from saying “You’ve got to be kidding” when first confronted with a Trump candidacy to “I would NEVER vote for that moron” to deciding to vote for Trump.

    I’ve been one of those #NeverHillary people for a long time, so nothing could induce me to vote for her unless her opponent was Satan.

    As far as civility, I don’t think it matters much if a person’s words are civil, but their actions are not. (redacted)
    As for Trump’s personality, it’s awful. But I realized that I am sick to death of white collar workers who stopped caring about blue collar workers decades ago. All I see is a bunch of privileged people who are immune from the ravages of NAFTA and unchecked illegal immigration simply because they could afford the time and money to go to college.

    Make the borders wide open to any white collar immigrant who wants to come here. Take away the limits. Only then would they be subjected to the competition and erosion of income that they expect blue collar workers to live with.

    1. @Lorraine, You make your point well. Thank you. I would dearly love for more Americans to have access to the ladder, to be able to afford college, and for the country to invest in getting rid of the enormous inequity in our economy. All of the above without eliminating the opportunities for wealth creation that fuel much of our innovation. How, I have no idea. I’d need to have spent my whole life studying economics, policy, political structures, and I have not.

    2. Honestly? I don’t think college is the answer for everyone. Even college degrees have become somewhat devalued as more and more people go to college.

      A bachelor degree used to suffice, and now it’s crept up to needing a masters or PhD.

      I don’t think our country could ever create enough white collar jobs for everyone. Blue collar jobs are needed for full employment.

      1. True. On the other hand, my belief is that we cannot force the global economy to allow us to keep some types of jobs here in the USA, and still keep prices US citizens have to pay at reasonable levels. Other countries have tried to close their economic borders – India, China, etc., it hasn’t led to prosperity. We can however, and I think must, invest in innovations that provide jobs and livelihoods for those are not college-bound. Whether that investment happens in the private sector or the public sector, at a plant level or at HQ, I do not know enough to say enough .

  53. I am another non-American watching the campaign with ever-increasing relief that I don’t need to make a choice in November.

    I’m a registered Liberal in my country, and over the years have been far happier with America’s Democratic choices. That said, I think we do ourselves as women, our children — especially our daughters — a grave disservice by selecting a candidate based on his or her civility, or the fact that one candidate is a woman. Both candidates’ histories and positions need to be examined carefully, and neither one — no matter how ridiculous the other — is entitled to a free pass. Hold ALL of their feet to the fire, please. Civility AND bluster can both be masks for the untenable.

    Heaven help us all next year.

    1. “Civility AND bluster can both be masks for the untenable.” True. I just can hardly stand vitriolic bluster, because I worry it will make the whole country feel free to exercise their angry feelings over their compassion. Perhaps that’s a weakness in my character. Probably so.

  54. Rebecca and Lorraine echo my sentiments exactly!

    As a voter I’m looking to discern the character of who is before me. What actions are they engaging in that I find likable as well as reprehensible. Your character speaks clearer than any nice words ever could. It is a predictable measure of how you will act in any given situations.

    Civility is a synonym for political correctness/safe spaces. Nice words & observing social norms are not a substitute or predictor of good decision making skills.

    1. I think civility and political correctness (which is a loaded and ambiguous term IMO) and safe spaces are on a spectrum but that they are not synonyms. And that while nice words don’t predict good decisions they don’t preclude them either. Dwight Eisenhower seems, from here, and although I lack historical expertise, to have been capable of speaking in a reasonable manner and deciding very clearly on the battlefield.

      But I do understand your focus on character.

  55. As a New Zealander who once lived in the States I have been watching the election keenly. While Civility should be a given in any leader it is an empty quality if not accompanied by respect. Any candidate who chooses not to respect large sectors of the population and who judges people because of race, sexual preference, gender or religion, who incites violence against his or her fellow citizens and who has no respect for truth, should ring alarm bells for all Americans. A candidate like that will not only create fear and anarchy in their homeland. They will make the world the rest of us inhabit a much more dangerous place. We watch the outcome of this election with quite some trepidation.

    1. @Karen, Thank you! As you can see, we’re back to little black dresses and crystal-toed pumps;). Again, I just had to speak my conscience at least once. It feels so important this year.

  56. It’s amazing to me that a presidential candidate’s behavior even comes up in discussion – it should be a non-issue, as all candidates should be able to behave, control themselves and their outbursts, grunts, snorts, eye-rolling. There is only one presidential candidate in my mind and I am with her.

  57. Dismissing the election as noise, or saying that both candidates suck, or that no politician is a good politician makes me feel crazy. These are all abdications of civic responsibility that we should take incredibly seriously.

    There seems to be a general disconnect from reality on many sides. I’ve watched far leftist activists turn the death of a friend who worked at the DNC into an accusation of murderous conspiracy and neocon thuggery against Secretary Clinton, while watching far right (literal, actual) Nazis and white supremacists attack her for being being catastrophically liberal and threaten to kill and rape women who work for her. I’ve been threatened with rape by Sanders supporters during the primaries and gun violence by our current opposition.

    I considered removing myself from the voter registration rolls because it makes my home address public, and my involvement in the campaign is also a matter of public record because of federal election commission reports. Every time I leave my office, I briefly wonder if this will be the time someone will show up with a gun, as our opposition suggests that 2nd amendment fans should “do something”.

    I will proudly cast my vote for Secretary Clinton, as I believe she is a smart, dedicated public servant with the experience to lead in these times. I will continue to work for the betterment of a Republic that I love more than anything. I will continue to not get enough sleep and to work 80 hours a week because it matters to me to pull this country back from the brink. I will be proud to cast that vote, thinking of my grandmother who fought like hell for the equal rights amendment and of my mother who did everything she could to give me a good life, up to her dying breath. I will proudly remember the centuries of women who had no voice and I will talk about why I believe in Secretary Clinton until I go hoarse.

    But I will also feel a deep sadness for the cloud of fear and anxiety that I now live with and for the millions of people, particularly children, whose lives are currently drenched in the anxiety of the rhetoric of this election.

    1. @dbt, Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am so sorry you have to work with this sense of danger hanging over you, but so grateful that you do.

  58. Civility is certainly missing in our country today. In my opinion, civility has declined very quickly in the last 10 or years or so. People are so busy screaming about their rights and navel gazing the they have left behind the adage to “love your neighbor as yourself”. As far as politics are concerned, I am tired of feeling “muzzled”. I am not a “deplorable” (a label I find very uncivil) but wonder why I am not “allowed” to voice my opinion on the direction this country is going without being labeled as one. I am not supporting Trump (as a person) with great gusto but will be voting for him. I believe he speaks directly about issues that need to be addressed and we would be safer, stronger, and ultimately more civil to one another as Americans than if Sec. Clinton was in office. Thank you for listening.

  59. As an outsider I would like to observe:

    civility is very important indeed, but it should not trump honesty(pun intended!)

    very different standards of behaviour have been expected from the two candidates – if Hillary Clinton had made some of Donald Trump’s comments would she have been taken to task? I just ask the question.

    does Donald Trump really represent the policies of the GOP? Some of the newspapers that have never supported the Democrats are recommending a vote for Hillary Clinton (Arizona and Texas) what does that say about this election?

  60. Sorry, but if you still believe that Trump should be President, then I really despair of the American people in general and women in particular.Watching the latest developments with great interest here in the UK.

  61. Lisa, not sure you’ll see this, coming so late on the thread.

    But today (Saturday, October 8, 2016) has been one of the most rewarding days, politically speaking, I’ve had in a long time. You’ll probably know what I’m referring to.

    Civility, it seems, still matters to more Americans of both parties than I thought it did. So, so very happy about this development.

    1. @Ann, Yes, I know what you are referring to. I am aghast. The hateful speech I hated, but what sounds like acknowledgement of feeling free to grab someone, that I cannot believe anyone will let stand. Let us hope we are right.

Comments are closed.