My first election memory was the night of Tuesday, November 8, 1960, when John F. Kennedy battled Richard Nixon for the presidency.
I was 7 years old and got to stay up late to watch the white male news anchors tally the numbers in handwritten scribbles on big boards. Back then the news was colorless, with fuzzy gray images of serious men using incredibly large, clumsy microphones.
The race was close, and it was not clear until the early morning hours that Kennedy had won.
Since then I’ve interviewed three former presidents and one first lady, attended one of the Clinton inaugurations and worked on several Wisconsin congressional and gubernatorial races, including the historical race that saw The Capital Times endorse Scott Klug for Congress. Imagine that.
So with all of that experience I can confidently state, in agreement with many others, that we have never seen a presidential election like the one we have before us today.
Because we have never had a candidate like Donald Trump.
It’s easy pickings to make orange jokes and ridicule his wild, reckless comments. The truth is that becoming a demagogue requires smarts and keen instinct.
And further, as difficult as it may be to admit, Trump is right on some issues.
The middle class is floundering. Black America is mired in generational poverty. And the system is rigged in favor of those with big cash.
Further, Hillary Clinton is a perfect example of the very system Trump rails against.
She is an easy mark for a simmering anger in our land brought to a boil by Trump.
But with all that being said, Trump is incredibly dangerous. The way in which he whips meanness and ignorance into a blind frenzy is obscene. He exploits latent anger and hatred for personal vanity with no concept whatsoever of how to solve the very problems he bellows about. Facts are a complete stranger to him.
Trump has pried open the cap on the septic tank and jumped in to wallow in the darkest thoughts of our people.
As for the Dems, this is shock therapy for a party that has lost its way with far too much Ivy League-educated, big-money elitism leading them astray from their traditional supporters they profess to care so much about but for whom have accomplished so little. In patronizing these voters, the Dems are complicit in the creation of Trump.
But in the midst of this horror show of an election, there have been heroes.
And they are Republicans.
Meg Whitman is a hero and a patriot for her renouncement of Trump. So are the 50 Republican national security advisers who rejected Trump en masse. So are Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg and Mitt Romney, who have called out Trump for what he is.
Just think about it. At what other time in American history has a Republican presidential candidate rejected the party candidate who followed him? And if you gauge the Bush family silence as disapproval, you could add the last two Republican presidents to that list. It is simply unprecedented.
The rise of this Honesty Class is the absolute best thing about an election that has challenged us to think about who we really are, and how we got to this awful place. Those who do not disavow Trump will have to live with it for the rest of their lives.
For many voters, this is an election about the lesser of two evils, a contest between two imperfect candidates. But one candidate is far less imperfect than the other.
On the night of my first presidential election, my mom—born in the decade women were given the right to vote—let me sit in front of the TV while my younger siblings were put to bed. I’d like to think I hung in there until the wee hours of the morning, but in truth, I didn’t make it to 11 p.m.
On this upcoming election night I will be sure to stay up until the very last vote is counted, rooting for our better angels.
Now go vote.
And God Bless America.