This election is different

Elections always matter, but 2016 is different.

The unprecedented level of toxic bigotry and misogyny coming from Donald Trump is sickening. Normally we discuss the impact of what a president will do in the Oval Office. This year, Trump’s campaign alone is harming our country.

This was made abundantly clear in a recent report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which found that the Trump campaign is “producing an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and inflaming racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom. Many students worry about being deported.”

Children see and absorb the world around them, and while we would like to believe they can be insulated from the daily dose of awfulness on the evening news, there is an impact. The SPLC noted that “more than two-thirds of the teachers reported that students – mainly immigrants, children of immigrants and Muslims – have expressed concerns or fears about what might happen to them or their families after the election.”

The communities whose children feel threatened are the same communities whose right to vote in this election is being threatened. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, “20 states have new [voting] restrictions in effect since the 2010 midterm election.” Furthermore, “in 2016, 14 states will have new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election.”

Shutting down polling locations, limiting (or even eliminating) early voting and onerous voter ID requirements all reduce turnout among minority voters. More often than not, this isn’t a bug, but instead a feature of these laws. As Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote in her opinion striking down North Carolina’s discriminatory voting restriction law, “before enacting that law, the legislature requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices. Upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African Americans.”

This is why for months CREDO has been engaging our network of more than 4.4 million members to push back against Trump and the right-wing hate mongers he enables and to boost voter engagement and fight back against voter suppression.

But, our work is not done. I write this to point out the importance of your participation and vote in 2016. Election day is just days away. In 2016, let’s strive to be a voice for those who don’t have one, or for those whose voices have been unjustly stripped from them.

At CREDO we believe that issues and policy matter. It’s why we’re fighting so hard against the Trans-Pacific Partnership and why we went all in to stop the KeystoneXL Pipeline. One guarantee is that in the next four years, we will continue asking you to stand up for progressive values, regardless of who is president or where they stand on a particular issue. What makes the 2016 election distinct is that for the first time in my adult life, this election goes beyond the policies of the next president.

The SPLC demonstrated the impact a Trump candidacy is having on children. This does not even take into account the toxic level of misogyny from the GOP’s nominee. Now, imagine that bigotry and sexism in the White House. So step up in the next few days before the election. Vote. Ask your friends and family to vote. Drive them to the polls. Volunteer on a campaign or for an organization doing vital work on the ground. This is not just about the presidency. Every election matters, all the way down to your local school board.

Use your voice, if for no other reason than others won’t be able to.