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This election has me fearing for my life – your vote matters today

When you go to the polls today – and I hope you do – please consider the fate of all Americans, especially minorities fearing for their lives. You can support the safety of virtually every oppressed individual in America, or vote against Clinton for a false sense of moral superiority. Not voting would be a slap in the face to naturalized citizens and undocumented immigrants, who would cherish the opportunity to determine the direction of our nation.

Choosing not to vote or voting for a third-party candidate is essentially a vote for Trump. Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric has fueled an unprecedented rise in hate crimes against minorities, making me fear for my family’s safety as a Muslim-American. Most recently, his supporters set fire to a Black church, writing “Vote Trump” on its walls.

When considering your options today, please separate your dreams from the reality of the current political climate. I want women to exercise their legal right to be topless in the streets of New York, without the fear of street harassment or worse. But that’s not reality. I would be a terrible activist if I advocated women do so just because that’s the dream we’re fighting toward. In the same vein, please contemplate the consequences of your power to vote today.

I am not drinking the Hillary Kool Aid, or playing the Woman Card. I share some of your frustrations about Clinton, who voted in favor of the Iraq War and what I would term as the ‘unPatriot Act’ — both policies I abhor. But I understand the differences between the candidates, take seriously what’s at stake, and want what is best for our country.

In order to eliminate evils and inequalities, we need someone who can sit at the table with hostile people and convince them to work together. Ideally, I want this person to be a completely pure individual, without any special interest ties, empathetic to the core, and radically peaceful. In other words, perfect!

There is no such thing as a perfect candidate or human being. Obama deported more immigrants than any other President in history, including women and children fleeing life-threatening violence. Obama also accomplished much, including the Affordable Care Act. Have you been as vocal about your disdain for Obama’s actions that are similar to Clinton’s? If not, you must examine if it is Clinton’s policies or your unconscious bias at play.

Major progress and long-term gains require multi-pronged strategies of both protest and diplomacy. Progress requires balancing idealism with efficacy, a difficult reckoning. Americans who refuse to vote for Clinton are losing sight of the bigger picture, choosing the sole strategy of protest over progress.

The Violence against Women Act (VAWA) is a successful example of balancing idealism with realistic targets. The first adaptation of the Bill left much to be desired, but advocates knew they needed to pass that inadequate version to continue expanding protections for crime victims. After all, VAWA proponents were asking for bipartisan support to punish misogynistic crimes and provide millions in government funding to fight gender-based violence. VAWA supporters continue to push the needle forward, most recently adding protections for LGBTQAI individuals, immigrants and Native American survivors. If the advocates dug in their heels 20 years ago before the original passage of the VAWA, none of the millions of rape or domestic violence survivors would have received critical services for the last two decades.

#ImWithHer because every major newspaper—including conservative publications that have never supported a democratic candidate—has endorsed Clinton and has warned the public about Trump’s fascist qualities. Clinton is a qualified candidate, while Trump is a textbook case of a narcissist, rapist, abuser, pathological liar, and a host of other frightening qualities, which will be magnified in a position of power.

If Clinton doesn’t win, minorities like me would be in physical danger. I support Clinton because it would be ignorant at best and sinister at worst, to allow her opponent to become President. When you say you are not voting for Clinton because “she’s just as bad as Trump,” – what you are actually saying, is that you don’t care about my safety. You are expressing that you would be fine allowing someone to become the President of our nation who incites violence against myself and other minorities. You are communicating that the real fear and lived experiences of myself and other Muslim Americans, Blacks, Latinos, LGBTQAI folks, and other countless minorities are not valid. You are telling me that you are OK putting my life and the lives of others in danger for a sense of moral superiority.

I hope you will use your power and privilege compassionately to vote for the right candidate.

By Asma Elgamal

Asma Elgamal is our Head News + Society Editor at The Tempest. She's currently a student at Harvard University.