By Aries Hines
Less than a day away from the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump presidential race and most polls show Clinton barely leading Trump by 1-2%. Something in the air reminds me of 2004: The Presidential scandal of George Bush vs John Kerry. It was also the first time I was legally eligible to vote in a presidential election. I was in college at the University of South Florida in Tampa, pursuing my bachelor’s degree in English and more hopeful for democracy. My life felt inundated by the Bush regime. Living in a state with Jeb Bush as Governor and the possibility of George Bush for a 2nd term motivated me to miss class to vote. I stood in line for hours to mark my ballot for John Kerry. Later I learned just as the world did, only 3 hours and 31 minutes away in Broward county nearly 58,000 absentee ballots were never received by voters. This among other voter controversies in Florida and several other states. By the end of the 2004 election where George Bush “won” the presidency the numbers felt inextricably skewed and voters demanded independent recounts which uncovered discrepancies, but didn’t change the ultimate outcome of another four years with George Bush.
By 2008 I had completed my bachelor’s degree in English and an MFA in Poetry from Mills College. My late twenties were one of the hardest times of my life. I was a young, black, queer artist, with a fresh degree in my pocket, unbelievable student loan debt and no one would hire me. I was overqualified and underemployed. So I hid in my tiny apartment, applied for everything, and eventually had to move in with family in Southern California because living in my apartment put me deeper in debt. From 2009-2012 I worked some full-time jobs but was eventually laid off and I became a full-time temp. These were the years I felt most outcast, unwanted, and depressed. In 2009, Obama’s economic stimulus package took many Americans including myself out of the recession and put us back to work. Not just part time work but higher paying jobs with strong financial growth, and upward mobility. Fast forward to 2016, I have been with the same company nearly four years and been promoted three times. Amidst the thousands of stories like mine, Trump is claiming the system is rigged against him—a white, I mean orange billionaire whose net worth is 3.9 billion.
For the last eight years, America has suffered through an awkward and prolific juxtaposition. America’s first African American president Barack Hussein Obama, created a flawed but historical health care system, reinvigorated the American economy. But it also saw the countless murders of young black males by police brutality and mounting social unrest as highlighted by campaigns like #Black Lives Matter. Like Obama, Hillary’s possible presidential win would also be historic, but the former Secretary of State has had her own issues; from the Travelgate scandal, the highly publicized Monica Lewinsky affair—which Hillary denied, and the shady allegations of the Clinton Foundation.
When I think about the state of our country in the last few years’ abortion has been quietly attacked state by state, the layered impacts of global warming continue to dangerously injure the long-term safety of millions. One of the more disturbing new developments has been the violent and heinous crimes the native tribes continue to endure at Standing Rock—an issue Hillary Clinton hasn’t addressed publicly.
I don’t even have to outline all the ways that Trump is wrong for this country just google any comments from his twitter account or speeches from the presidential debates. You can start with the sexual assault allegations against him (and how he’s criticized these women for being too ugly or fat to sexually assault), why he wants to build a wall to keep future citizens out of this country, and the 100 other ridiculous things he’s said during his campaign. While Hillary Clinton also isn’t an ideal candidate, I refuse not to vote, I refuse not to exercise my rights as an African American queer womanist and artist. I will be at the polls on Tuesday Nov 8th, standing in line even if it takes hours.
Aries Hines is a queer writer, book lover, and mermaid. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Mills College. Her film work has been featured at film festivals including The Austin International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, her poetry and performances have been published widely and been a part of the San Francisco Queer Arts Festival for her one-woman show “My Dyscalculia Voice” about disability and race, The Queer Girl Theater Project, Colorlines Magazine, The Journal of Lesbian Studies, Black Girl Dangerous, The Southern Grits Anthology, As Us, Crabfat Literary Magazine, Polychrome Ink, the forthcoming anthology “Revise the Psslm” about the work and impact of Gwendolyn Brooks, and more. Her work explores race, identity, queerness, and family. She is currently at work on her first full length manuscript of poetry. She resides in San Diego and sometimes performs for So Say We All.