Why I’m Fasting for Hillary Clinton

Why I’m Fasting for Hillary Clinton November 5, 2016

Image by Gage Skidmore; obtained through Creative Commons

On the first Sunday of every month, Mormons all over the world abstain from food and drink for 24 hours. This period of self-denial is designed to help us draw closer to God and seek answers to our prayers. In addition, we donate the money that we would have spent on the skipped meals to the Church’s program for assisting the poor and needy.

I’ve fasted for various things over the course of my life. As a high school senior, I fasted before giving a speech at my graduation, praying that I would do a good job. At other times I have fasted to receive inspiration about major life choices or for improvements in the health of others.

This Sunday, however, I am fasting for Hillary Clinton.

Normally, I would view foregoing food for a politician as an unneeded sullying of the sacred practice of the fast. Fasting, by its very nature, seems designed to subjugate the body to the spirit, to lift our minds to a higher, unworldly plain. In contrast, politics and politicians seem to embody the idea of the physical realm, of the profane. In most election years, I would direct my fast towards more worthy aims, like the health of a neighbor or family member.

But not this year.

In 2016, Americans are faced with a stark choice. We must choose whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be the next leader of the free world. On its face, the choice seems obvious: Clinton is exponentially more suited, in both knowledge and temperament, to the rigors of the presidency than is Donald. In terms of character, hers outstrips his by lightyears: while Donald was discriminating against prospective African-American tenants for his apartment buildings, Clinton was fighting for children and families as an attorney for the Children’s Defense Fund; in a period when Donald was raping his wife, assaulting potential business partners, and ogling teenage girls, Clinton was bravely declaring that “women’s rights are human rights”; while Donald praises tyrants like Kim Jong-un, Vladimir Putin, and Saddam Hussein, Hillary has criticized despots like Egypt’s Al-Sissi for undermining human rights.

And yet. Despite the obvious chasm that separates Clinton from Donald, Americans currently stand on a precipice, with around half of us contemplating the leap into the abyss that is a vote for Donald. And I’m not going to lie – the possibility that Donald might win terrifies me.

I’m not exaggerating my fear of a Trump presidency. Although I am a registered Democrat, I have always voted a split ticket: in 2008 I voted for Republican John McCain for president and Democrat Jim Marshall for my congressional race; in 2012 I voted for Democrat Barack Obama for president and the Republican candidate for my state’s treasurer; and this year, when I early-voted, I voted for Hillary for president and Republicans for some lower offices. I say this not to laud my bipartisan outlook, but to make the point that I’m not one of those people who view their political opponents as evil incarnate. True, while I generally agree with more of what the Democratic platform espouses, I find much to be admired and pursued in the policies advanced by Republicans. To put it briefly – while I would have lamented a victory by Romney in 2012, I would have gone to bed on Election Night knowing that the future of our country was safe in his capable, qualified hands.

No, I’m being perfectly honest when I say that for the first time, I’m worried about whether the United States as we know it will survive. Donald Trump has shown that he cares about nothing beyond his self-advancement, and I have no doubt that he would sell the future of our republic for much less than the mess of pottage that lost the biblical Esau his birthright. He has demonstrated that he is willing to discard cherished American norms like the peaceful transition of power, the integrity of the electoral process, and religious freedom in pursuit of his insatiable desire for dominance. He has indicated that he would undermine the vital pillars of the post-war Pax Americana by dismantling the core guarantees of NATO, advocating for human rights abuses, and waging wars of conquest to seize sovereign nations’ natural resources. And he has hinted that he would transform America into a mockery of liberal democracy by imprisoning his political opponents, silencing critical voices in the press, and subverting the independence of the judiciary.

I could go on.

Of course, I am under no illusion that Clinton is Mother Teresa. She made the mistake of using a private email server in violation of the State Department’s (admittedly antiquated) policies. The optics of the Clinton Foundation, although bearing no evidence of illegality, leave much to be desired in terms of guarding against apparent conflicts of interest. And her penchant for secrecy is frustrating in an age that values transparency above all else.

But Clinton’s flaws, though real, pale in comparison to the horrors possible under a President Donald. For that reason, as I deny myself food and water over the next 24 hours, I do so with a prayer in my heart: a prayer that Tuesday will end in a victory for Hillary Clinton.

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