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Letter to the editor

To my beloved students:

I understand that you are disgusted by the disastrous mess of this election. I understand why many of you would like to express your disgust by not voting. And I also understand why even the Democrats amongst you have a dislike for Hillary Clinton, who's sat too many War Rooms and enjoyed too many Wall Street dinners. I get that.

And I even get your anger at a political moment that feels more like a colonoscopy than anything else. I am angry too.

But listen to this: elections are not the moment to express anger and to protest, and politics is not about getting what you want. Politics is about getting the best deal you can. Elections are the moment when you take responsibility, not for yourself and your (legitimate) frustrations, but for society at large.

On Nov. 8, you will not be asked whether you want a War Room to exist or not. You will be asked, with the rest of the world fretting at your answer, whether you want to put Donald Trump in that room or not.

On Nov. 8, you will not be asked whether Wall Street should exist or not. You will be asked whether the Wall-Street-Donald-Trump-way (no no-wage-discrimination, and the bankruptcy-way) is the way you want Wall Street to be.

Not answering these questions by not voting is not a matter of protest; it's a matter of irresponsibility. By not voting, you are not protesting: you are dodging the question because you would like it to have never been asked. All that your so-called protest will express is your privilege: that of not being worried about ever being personally touched by whatever crazy-ass policy Trump may impose on people who are unlike you in terms of race, wealth, education, gender, or immigrant status.

And no, a Trump victory is not okay, "because then we'll hit rock-bottom and we'll rise." There is no rock bottom in politics. As the many facets of resurfacing fascism in contemporary Europe show, rock bottom is (sadly) only an engineering metaphor.

On Nov. 8, hold your nose if you need to, screw up your courage and go vote.

Don't be fooled. This is what I’ve been trying to teach all along.

Sara Galletti is a professor in the Art History department.


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