Metro Weekly

Biden or Bust: A Metro Weekly Forum

The LGBTQ community on the election, the candidates, and why everyone should vote

joe biden, election, donald trump, forum
Joe Biden — Photo: Gage Skidmore

With the nation in turmoil and LGBTQ rights on the line, we asked the community how they’re feeling about the upcoming election. Their answers reflect the anxieties, fears, and faint glimmers of hope and resolve found in millions of voters across the country.

How are you feeling about the upcoming presidential election?

Fredo Alvarez, 42, Gay, Calif., Tech Support Advisor, Independent: I’m feeling hopeful but still very concerned. Four years ago, I thought Hillary Clinton was a shoo-in compared to her opponent. Clearly, I was wrong.

Mike Bento, 59, Gay, D.C., Marketing and Communications, Democrat: Anxious. Not at all confident.

Dana Beyer, 68, Trans/Intersex, Md., Retired, Democrat: Good. I’m more concerned about the Interregnum, and even more about the ability of a Democratic Congress to transform health care, criminal justice, the judiciary and the climate.

Sianna Boschetti, 25, Lesbian, D.C., Web Content Manager, Democrat: I’m not feeling great about the upcoming presidential election. Though I do believe Biden will win, I don’t think Trump will accept the results. I think it’s possible we’ll have some sort of coup. If Biden does eventually take over the White House, I know it will still be an uphill battle to actual positive change for LGBTQ+, BIPOC and Latinx communities.

Donald Burch, 60, Pansexual, D.C., Retired Clinical Social Worker, Democrat: I’m ready for it to be over. I’m worried about the future no matter who wins. I’m particularly worried about domestic terrorism from the alt-right.

Peter C., 62, Gay, D.C., Realtor, Democrat: Pissed off. Lousy choices on both sides. I don’t want me or the country or the world to endure four more years of Trump, though some of his policies aren’t bad. Nor do I want a repeat of the smug self righteous politically correct but economically and practically stupid poilicies and attitudes of the Clinton and Obama years.

Gregory Cendana, 34, Gay, D.C., President, Can’t Stop! Won’t Stop! Consulting, Democrat: It’s clear that the future of democracy, racial justice, and the country’s response to the Coronavirus are all at stake and on the ballot this election, especially as we vote for who is going to be President. Directly impacted communities and organizers, including LGBTQ folks, are exhausted by the barrage of attacks from the current inhabitant of the White House but stand ready — no matter who is elected — to protect our communities and hold whoever accountable.

Poppy Champlin, 60, Gay, R.I., Comedian, Democrat: A little nervous about everything. Will we get enough people to get out and vote? Will those militia folks get hostile if Biden wins? Will we win by a landslide? Will I find my polling place? Can I convince my mother not to Vote for Trump? I told her I wouldn’t give her a ride if that was her intention.

Robert Crocetti, 46, Gay, D.C., Fitness Trainer, Democrat: I am excited about the upcoming election. However, I am concerned about whether or not the results of the election will be accepted by the current administration. The Trump administration has already indicated they will challenge the results in court if those results are not in the president’s favor and were largely determined by mail-in ballots. This could delay the elected administration from taking office for a long time.

Ray Daniels, 53, Gay, N.Y., Proposal Manager, Democrat: I am cautiously optimistic. It seems very clear to me that we are in great danger if leadership remains the same.

Alphonso David, 50, Gay, N.Y., President of the Human Rights Campaign, Democrat: Although these are undoubtedly dark times, I am hopeful about the people seizing back our democracy. With our grassroots army more than 3 million strong, and with over 160 staff virtually deployed in key states, the Human Rights Campaign has been working around the clock to deliver pro-equality wins up and down the ballot. And together with our partners, we have been making sure that the voters are ready to make their voices heard and their votes count in the most important election of our lifetimes. In spite of all the obstacles we face, we have seen the resistance and resilience of our communities in full force. And united, we will deliver the victory our communities and our country need.

Todd Evans, 57, Gay, N.J., Self-employed, Democrat: Optimistic.

Sandy Fabio, 55, Transgender, N.J., Retired Military, Democrat: Trump has to go!

Russwin Francisco, 54, Gay, D.C., Retailer, Democrat: I feel optimistic. Trump’s efforts to discredit mail-in ballots and tactics to intimidate the electorate have mostly backfired. Most voters now recognize these acts as desperate attempts to steal the election or save face when Trump loses. Civil rights groups, election watchdogs and ordinary observers are alert, savvier and quicker to point out maneuvers and tricks such as changes with the U.S. Postal Service, disappearing mail boxes and mail sorting equipment. Voters are calling, emailing and writing to their senators and reps. As a result, the Postmaster was asked to account for the changes, halt all non-standard activity and return boxes and equipment. When armed uniformed “guards” showed up in early voting places in Florida and Pennsylvania, officials were quick to determine their identity and purpose, calling the Trump campaign to vouch for them (they were disavowed).

James Gaghan, 36, Ally, D.C., Talent Buyer, Independent: I have been on record on Flame Monroe’s Coffeetime podcast as this being one of the most important elections of our time with the ability to either further divide or bring hope to our nation. I firmly believe that another four years of Trump will do permanent damage to all progress made for all underrepresented individuals.

Adam Garnek, 43, Gay, N.C., Self-employed, Democrat: I am very apprehensive as to the outcome as both candidates have a large fan base. I feel the country is more divided than ever before in my lifetime. We do need a change from the current condition of our nation. We can only succeed and progress if we are united.

David Greer, 55, Gay, D.C., Communications, Democrat: Democrats need to stop their bedwetting, stop reliving 2016, and put our big boy boots on and crush the bigoted, racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic movement led by Donald Trump. We are the America that believes in everyone’s dignity. We are within reach of exterminating the president. Now we must believe it. Make it happen.

John Guggenmos, 54, Gay, D.C., ANC commissioner and Nightlife Owner, Democrat: I feel like this last year I’ve been living in Season 4 of Lost, and the writers keep throwing the craziest things my way. I have no idea if there will be Season 5 and if the election is the cliffhanger of Season 4 or the series finale. Quite frankly, it’s astounding that four years later, I’m still bewildered that Trump is President. I’ve said to my spouse countless times, I cannot believe it. As the election approaches, there is one aspect of Trump’s Presidency, and it can’t be ignored: lies, lies, lies. Trump lies more than any President has ever lied, and the unfortunate part is to see the enjoyment and delight his base takes in his lying.

Trump lies for the admiration of the crowds at his rallies, and they don’t care. When they are confronted with the lie, it’s not a problem because his base sees this plain-spoken man lying to protect them as he fights the establishment. When the Republican leadership is confronted with his lie, they have either never seen the news report or the President’s tweet. Still, in all cases, they just don’t care that he lies. There’s no expectation that Trump will answer a reporter’s question or debate moderator with a logical or coherent response. He says what he wants, demonstrating the power he has to lie and shape the narrative. He lies for no purpose other than demonstrating to us that he can lie. He lies about his support for white supremacists, and his sidestepping with the truth is music to the hate groups that love him. Along with a mute button at the debate, we needed a lie detector connected to a flashing red light to Fact Check him in real-time. It’s incredible, it’s unthinkable, it’s exhausting, and why we can’t tune out his noise this election.

Eric Halley, 46, Gay, D.C., Business Analyst, Democrat: All signs point to a Democratic win for President as well as wins in the Senate and House. Voter mobilization and increased engagement with younger voters along with the corruption of the Republican party all point to a Democratic realignment.

Joseph Izzo, 72, Non-Binary, D.C., Retired Psychotherapist, Democrat: Like most liberal/progressive people, I’m fearful that the Republicans and Trump-Pence will succeed in winning by a hair through voter suppression methods in the swing States and we’ll be stuck for another four years with a right wing, reactionary Executive, Legislative and Judicial government. I still feel the horror I woke up to on November 9, 2016 and am terrified of a replay.

Dan Kaufman, 55, Gay, Pa., Promotional Products Marketing Salesperson, Democrat: Somewhat optimistic, but also incredibly sad on a bunch of levels. I’ve been texting voters in support of Biden, and the amount of virulent anger I get from Trump supporters is remarkable. They literally have nothing to complain about, but they seem to take on Trump’s victim complex and defend his indefensible behavior as if they are personally being attacked. It’s both fascinating and sad. Biden is not the best candidate the Democrats could have put up, but he’s what we’ve got, and I’m behind him 100 percent. My favorite analogy about voting is that it’s like taking a bus. It won’t get you to your final destination, but it will take you in the direction you want to go.

John Klenert, 70, Gay, D.C., Retired, Democrat: Anxious.

Freddie Lutz, 69, Gay, Va., Restaurant Owner, Democrat: Hopeful.

Patsy Lynch, 67, Lesbian, Md., Photographer, Democrat: Having covered Presidential elections in the past, I am both excited and disgusted by what is going on. Excited because it seems that more people are taking the time to vote; disgusted by the vitriol surrounding this election. Trump’s constant attack on the validity of the eventual outcome is unseemly as well as disgusting.

Joe McCall, 52, Gay, D.C., Private Investor, Democrat: Trump is going to win, and I hate it. Biden is a really sorry-assed alternative. I do not want to move towards the socialist “allies.” They will fuck us.

Thom Metzger, 50, Gay, D.C., PR Professional, Democrat: I’m hopeful that we may actually see a wave election that would allow us to realign our government and finally address some of the biggest problems such as addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, economic inequality, disparate access to healthcare, racial injustice, the need for criminal justice reform, unfair limits on labor organizing, and climate change. Republicans have not been productive partners in our system. The current status quo only seems to benefit the wealthiest people in our country.

Adam O., 34, Gay, Md., Retail Worker, Democrat: Very nervous. Trump was supposed to lose before and still won. I won’t relax until it’s over.

Neal Racioppo, 51, Ally, D.C., Sr. Director of Marketing and Communications, Democrat: Optimistically terrified. Confidently anxious. I’m on a psychotic roller coaster of Hope and Dread. To feel confident seems naive. To feel worried seems self-defeatist.

There’s an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where a vengeance demon named Anyanka grants a wish and we see what Sunnydale would have been like if Buffy had never come to town. The Master has risen, Willow and Xander are his undead minions, and Giles is a watcher without a slayer to watch. At the end of the episode, as all hell is breaking loose, Giles prepares to destroy Anyanka’s power source to reverse the spell and she asks how he can be so sure the alternate timeline is better than the current one. Giles says “It has to be.” I feel like, in this moment, we are Giles. Poised to smash the power amulet.

Things won’t magically revert to “normal” like in Sunnydale. We will always remember the trauma of the past four years and there will be immense work to undo the evils of the current administration. I hope we are up to the task to repair and correct our society in really positive ways.

Richard Rosendall, 64, Gay, D.C., Freelance Writer, Democrat: I feel that an attempted right-wing coup is underway, led from the Oval Office.

Linda Rucci, 64, Ally, Fla., Nurse, Democrat: Cross my fingers and toes and arms and legs trying to be hopeful.

Bob Witeck, 68, Gay, Va., Public Relations Executive, Democrat: I’m feeling upbeat, yet never over-confident or complacent. I predict a blue tsunami is growing and expect that Democrats will capture the House, Senate, and White House. It will be tense, ugly at times, close margins in some races that will be hard fought, but I believe the nation’s mood and deep distrust and discontent with Donald Trump is unleashing a strong sea change.

Merle Yost, 62, Gay, Calif., Writer/Psychotherapist, Democrat: This is the scariest and most consequential election in my lifetime. There is so much on the line and that so many people think that Trump and the Republicans are doing a good job, is truly frightening.

Joe Biden — Photo: Gage Skidmore

Who do you think will win? Why?

Mike Bento: I’m terrified it could still go either way.

Dana Beyer: I think it will be a landslide because a sizable majority are tired of the chaos.

Sianna Boschetti: I think Biden will win by a good margin. I feel like Trump has mobilized a lot of people against him over the past four years. His base — which I assume at this point is just Evangelical Christians and white supremacists, and Evangelical Christian white supremacists — will probably be the only people voting for him at this point. I’m not sure that Trump will accept the results, even if it’s clearly a Biden victory, and I’m not looking forward to whatever hell that puts the American people through.

Arnold Burgess, 58, Gay, Fla., Unemployed, Democrat: Joe Biden because of Chaos Fatigue. Notwithstanding Covid-19, the electorate is tired of the news cycle never containing positive messaging about them from the Whitehouse itself. Shared sense of “in this together” has disappeared from the political spectrum.

Gregory Cendana: The most important poll and the one that counts is on Election Day. No matter what pundits, social media, or your colleagues say, we must do everything we can to ensure that as many eligible voters cast their votes and help others understand the stakes are too high. Regardless of the outcome or length of time it will take to certify the results, I am ready to organize, build power, and put my body on the line to ensure the safety and security of those most vulnerable.

Poppy Champlin: I think Biden will win. I think the numbers of people that are voting by mail and pre-voting is a good sign that the importance of this election is being felt by everyone in the country. The Malfeasance of this president is evident by our lack of protection from this virus.

Caleb Copeland, 35, Gay, D.C., Digital Marketing, Democrat: Biden, but I also thought the same about Clinton in 2016. I think the potential for having record-breaking voting turnout will help Biden, and he’s far ahead of Trump in national polls as well as many battleground states.

Alphonso David: I believe the majority of people in this country reject Trump’s vision of America, where the power of the few are privileged over the welfare of the many, where white supremacy is given not only license but sanction, and where partisanship wins out over people every time. We have seen over the past four years the cost of this vision, from their catastrophic handling of COVID-19 to their relentless attacks on the LGBTQ community. People in this country are ready for this chapter in our politics to be over — and they are voting to end it. And not just in terms of firing Donald Trump and Mike Pence — but in elections up and down the ballot. People are voting for a better, more equal vision of America, and leaders who will follow that vision with action.

Todd Evans: Joe Biden, because the other person is a criminal.

Adam Garnek: Biden and Harris. I believe this team has shown true leadership in their work for the people. Many say they have been in politics too long and have lost sight. Sight of what? True, both have been in the arena for a long time. That only proves the hard work and accomplishments that have been made in order for the people to keep them there. Additionally, over the decades the political establishment has progressed their views in the change of times. We can’t hold anyone to their actions in politics for past decisions that were made in that era. However, we must change. “We’re supposed to,” as the comic strip says of the butterfly to the caterpillar.

David Greer: Joe Biden will be the first president to win election with 400 electoral votes since George H. W. Bush in 1988. 2020 will prove that 2016 was an aberration. The American people are decent, compassionate and honest. Joe Biden represents who this country is.

Stephen Griffith, 58, Gay, Md., Healthcare, Democrat: I don’t know. There is a lot of support on both sides.

John Guggenmos: As I check fivethirtyeight.com a few times a day, it’s impossible not to be haunted with memories of 2016. All the polls indicate Biden, but in our house, saying “Biden is leading” out loud isn’t allowed for fear it would jinx it. But what is winning this year? It’s not hard to see the election results could produce a crisis of legitimacy and a counter-reaction. When the President of the United States himself for months has been saying this is a rigged election, it’s going to be the biggest fraud of all time, it’s hard to see the bottom or an outcome without violence.

Trump has tremendous control over many of his followers who genuinely believe he’s the Savior of America, and if he hinted, they should take to the street, this would happen. If Trump loses, the idea that QAnon nuts would be armed in the street seems all too possible at the moment. Both the left and the right have political grievances, so if Trump wins, the protests would likely produce a volitant reaction from a very heavy-handed government response or by loyal Trumpeters. Violence from either Charlottesville’s level to the scale of Timothy McVeigh is not as far-fetched of an idea as it was 10 months ago.

Today we can’t agree about what is true and a fact. We can’t agree about what’s actually happening. There’s disagreement on the science behind wearing a mask and if COVID is real or a threat? And amazingly, we’re about to hold a presidential election, and I’m not a drama queen to worry whether we might be tipped into chaos by merely having the election. It’s not a possibility I thought I’d ever had to consider.

Kenya Hutton, 42, Gay, D.C., Deputy Director, Democrat: At this point it’s too close to call, hence why I’m nervous.

Dan Kaufman: Biden. Although the only poll that matters is the ballot box.

Patsy Lynch: I hope Biden/Harris win because we truly need to make America great again.

Joe McCall: Trump will win, because this is about the economy.

Jack Murphy, 21, Transgender, D.C., Student, Independent: All signs point to Joe Biden being elected President and Kamala Harris Vice-President. National polls, polls in key states, and polling of key demographics shows promising trends in the direction of the Biden-Harris ticket. That was the case in 2016 as well, and we saw what happened then. However, the notion that polling cannot be trusted is simply false; polls aren’t a crystal ball, pollsters are not soothsayers. They are human statisticians, possessing the same flaws and limitations as the rest of us. The polls in 2016 were correct, they showed Clinton leading by 3-ish points, and she won the popular vote by 3-ish points. Unfortunately, the undemocratic Electoral College (which overrepresented white, rural voters) did not translate the 3 percentage point lead in votes into a place in the White House.

The forces that swept Trump to victory like resistance to an increasingly un-white American population, feelings of disenfranchisement among people of all parties, misogyny, and the like remain alive and if anything is more active and more overt than they were four years ago. In the final days before the election and the weeks of ballot counting expected to follow we must remain active and vigilant whether we are motivating people to turn out at the polls or watching out for any shenanigans in the tallying process. A Trump win is not beyond the pale, and we must do everything we can in the time we have left to relegate him to the dustbin of history.

Rayceen Pendarvis, AARP eligible, Gender-blender, D.C., Host, Emcee, and Beauty Industry Professional: I’m praying Biden wins, because the current administration has demonstrated their level of incompetence and their animus towards certain demographics of people.

Neal Racioppo: Biden/Harris. In 2016 the idea of a President tRump was a joke. It was downright funny. I mean, he didn’t even think he was going to win. It has been suggested by many and later confirmed by Michael Cohen, that his run for President was all about publicity and setting him up to launch Trump TV. Now that we’ve seen his administration’s ineptitude, corruption, the incessant racism and sexism, we won’t get fooled again. Sweeping change is coming. Down the ballot as well. And all the Republicans who turned a blind eye to this shit-show are going to get what they deserve when they cannot wash the stink of tRump off.

Pat Reilly, 72, Heterosexual, Va., Journalist, Democrat: Joe Biden, because even Trump’s supporters acknowledge that he is occasionally at least unhinged.

Bobbi Strang, 50, Pansexual, D.C., Insurance Examiner, Democrat: It is my hope that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win the election. Our nation is currently a nation in distress due to a toxic mix of incompetence, corruption, and foreign influence on the president and his entire administration. I am so grateful for the career civil servants that have kept a complete collapse at bay. A Biden victory would open a path to healing for our nation with ethical, competent leadership.

Merle Yost: Just over a week out, it does feel like we will have a democratic wave. I have waited my entire life for the pendulum to swing in the liberal direction. Maybe it will this time.

Zar, 34, LGBTQ-adjacent, Md., Project Manager, Independent: I think Biden is likely to win the popular vote. Who will prevail in the Electoral College is dependent upon too many unknowns to hazard a guess, especially with the pandemic and widespread voter suppression.

Joe Biden — Photo: Gage Skidmore

How will you feel if Biden wins?

Fredo Alvarez: Mostly relieved. Much as I respect him, Biden was not my first choice during the primaries. My outlook for the future of this country will fare better with his leadership rather than that of the current occupant of the Oval Office.

Dana Beyer: Hopeful but cautious, fearful about the ability of weak-kneed Dems to finally get their spines back.

Peter C.: Worried about rising taxes, already outrageously high healthcare costs. MY “Affordable Care Act” policy costs $1,400 a month. (Thanks Barack and Hillary for allowing insurers to discriminate on the basis of age). And worried about whether I will ever be able to retire.

Alphonso David: With a Biden-Harris Administration, our nation will be back on a path towards hope and progress. Joe Biden’s compassion, grit and grace make him uniquely qualified to lead our country through this difficult period.

He is a leader who has stood with the LGBTQ+ community for decades, and with Biden as President, LGBTQ people at home and abroad will have a committed champion in the White House. A Biden-Harris administration would sign the Equality Act into law, push for gender-inclusive identification markers, reverse the transgender military ban, ban so-called conversion therapy, re-prioritize advancing LGBTQ equality around the world, fight to end the transmission of HIV, ensure LGBTQ people’s access to health care cannot be limited by their identity, and work to end the epidemic of violence against transgender people that particularly targets transgender women of color.

If Biden wins, the public will see real leadership and necessary change. And that is something that should be a cause for celebration for all.

Todd Evans: Joyful.

Russwin Francisco: Ecstatic. I believe Biden is who we need right now. He has the compassion, instinct, experience and political temperament to make America America again. Biden, the only presidential candidate in recent history without an Ivy League background, has a better chance than anyone of rebuilding the Democratic coalition and winning back the support of disaffected, working-class voters.

The Biden administration would pursue a larger fiscal stimulus targeted at households, workers, and small businesses that need it, as well as job-creating infrastructure spending and investments in the green economy. Biden would invest in education and worker retraining, and in proactive industrial and innovation policies. Biden might raise taxes on corporations and the top 1 percent but he would also close loopholes that allow tax avoidance and shifting profits and production abroad. These policies will result in only a modest hit to corporate profits and any costs to the economy would be more than offset by Biden’s proposed “Made in America” policies to bring more jobs, profits, and production home. Biden promises to raise the minimum wage to boost labor and consumption. He aims to restore bargaining power to workers, and to protect consumers from predatory financial institutions. His plans have a much more sensible approach to trade, immigration, and foreign policy. He will repair US alliances and partnerships.

Adam Garnek: Honestly, politics as usual. Us little people don’t see the ins and outs of day to day politics. We just hear about it. The difference for me though is I feel we have a true leader that is in our corner and cares about us little people. For me, Biden cares what I care about. We also have a true friend to help our LGBTQ community progress, stay safe, and grow our protections of human rights.

David Greer: Proven correct.

Garry Gsquare, 69, Gay, S.C., Retired, Democrat: I voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. I would have liked 8 years with her in office. I feel Joe Biden is a dedicated public servant. He’s shown his loyalty to serve and support our government and its citizens. Like every other politician I don’t expect he will be able to achieve all he’s campaigned to do. He’s got a lot of healing and damage repair to address if elected.

Thom Metzger: Relief. Absolute relief.

Jack Murphy: Biden’s likely victory will be a much-needed relief from the chaos, violence, human rights violations, and utter mismanagement of the Trump presidency. While Biden does not represent all of my policy views, I am looking forward to a presidential term during which science is believed, an effective response to the current pandemic is mounted, and the dignity of trans people is upheld. That being said, I would urge people to avoid complacency like the plague. After same-sex marriage became the law of the land in 2015, it felt like many believed the struggle for LGBTQ+ equality was over. What we saw in the next five years was a dramatic rise in anti-gay and anti-trans violence and attacks on our legal rights at every level of government. Even if Trump is out of office, even if a Blue Wave the likes of which we have never seen ushers in Democratic majorities in Congress and statehouses nationwide, there will remain politicians and others who will stop at nothing to roll back the progress made in our country.

I would encourage people to avoid seeing Trump or the larger ideology of Trumpism as repudiated or dead. Trump was not an anomaly, but the product of a decades-long conservative movement aimed at leveraging the power of the courts to undo progressive legislation passed over the years. While he may be disempowered, the movement he led is not gone. We must remain vigilant towards the rise of xenophobia and white supremacy and stamp it out wherever we see it, no matter who the president is.

Brett Parson, 52, Gay, D.C., Retired Police Officer, Democrat: Relieved and joyous!

Rayceen Pendarvis: My soul will cry out with joy!

Neal Racioppo: Like we can finally exhale. Relieved that we have grownups in charge again. Hopeful that someone can finally put together a national strategy for COVID-19. There may also be socially distanced naked dancing in the streets.

Richard Rosendall: I will be relieved-more so if we also retake the Senate, without which little will get done. We’ll have a lot of work repairing Trump’s damage.

John Stoltenberg, 76, Gay, D.C., Writer/Editor, Democrat: Relieved, for sure. Possibly elated.

How will you feel if Trump wins?

Mike Bento: Broken. Terrified. Angry. Depressed.

Dana Beyer: The end of the American experiment.

Gordon Binder, 71, Gay, D.C., Environmental Analyst, Independent: Devastated and fearful for the country’s future, expecting more damage, more violence by the white supremacy groups that will feel they have carte blanche to go after anyone who doesn’t agree with them, more tax cuts for the wealthy. Who knows what more he’d dump on us?

Arnold Burgess, 58, Gay, Fla., Unemployed, Democrat: Vindicated to the extent that the inherent racism of former USA is as entrenched as ever.

Peter C.: I will worry about the credibility of the United States and the American presidency in world affairs. I will be annoyed everytime I see or hear him.

Russwin Francisco: Fearful and discouraged. Although Trump ran as a populist, he is a wannabe plutocrat. I am not looking forward to more controversies, blatant disregard of the Constitution and democratic norms. Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic will go down as one of the worst disasters in U.S. history, with nearly 230,000 already dead and millions unemployed. Trump repeatedly flouted public health guidance and his own CDC, holding packed events during the pandemic and mocking those who wear masks. Americans will be forced to live with more deaths, continued economic upheaval and public unrest. His pandering to the religious right will setback rights for women, minorities and LGBTQIA Americans.

Adam Garnek: Honestly, I don’t want to comment, but I will. Why? Because we can not stay silent about what we care about. However, I am a Marine Veteran and I feel strongly about leadership, politics, and the military. To whomever leads our country I have respect for as the President as elected by the people. To be in the role is a great accomplishment and the President has vision for our people and the country. So, if my choice of Biden doesn’t win, I remain respectful.

David Greer: After Trump steals the election by disqualifying all the votes coming out of Philadelphia, I will start a five day bender that will become the gist of legends. When I come to, I will claim not to know anything that happened in the last five years. My friends will move me to Palm Springs where I will live on a steady diet of Xanax and lithium.

John Guggenmos: I haven’t allowed myself to accept this as even possible, much less what it could actually mean. I’m not the only one who has entirely blocked out thinking that Trump’s reign of terror, destruction, and dishonesty could be extended by four more years.

Eric Halley: God help us. AHS: Apocalypse.

Kenya Hutton: I would be absolutely terrified for myself, and my loved ones.

Joseph Izzo: I’d be devastated, and am seriously considering moving to Canada if they don’t erect a Wall to keep out the hoards of USA citizens wanting to evacuate this benighted country.

John Klenert: Will consider moving.

Paul M: Will think seriously about leaving the country.

Joe McCall: Encouraged, in that my income will not be targeted. I make almost $1 million a year. If I’m taxed into oblivion, I’ll give less to LGBTQI concerns.

Jack Murphy: Another Trump win should confirm to every American that violent white supremacy remains virile in this country; his potential win, even the fact that he has a chance of winning, should serve as a wake-up call that, as much as things have changed since 1787 and the legal codification of slavery and Black disenfranchisement, much has stayed the same. We need to continue to fight as hard as we did on the first day of Trump’s presidency until the very last. If the past four years have shown the nation and the world anything, it is that the LGBTQ+ community is endlessly resilient. Our spirit of resistance is far older than the Trump presidency; in fact, the history of the LGBTQ community predates even the United States itself. Four more years of a Trump presidency is a chance for us to again lead the nation with love and hope. America is the only home I’ve ever known, no president, no political movement, no judge or law can change that.

Rayceen Pendarvis: A part of my spirit will die.

Pat Reilly: Like exercising my birthright to become an Irish citizen. I know I should stay and fight, but life is short and he is determined to take this country down an undemocratic path. I cannot live in a country where the majority prefers his brand of bully-mongering with no room for justice.

Linda Rucci: Ugh.

John Stoltenberg: Numb and afraid.

Bobbi Strang: It could very well be the end of our nation as we have known it. The 45th president is a fascist with no respect for others or the Constitution. He will be unrestrained in a second term and we will see what it means to live under an authoritarian government.

Roy Tyre, 73, Gay, Fla., Retired from Dept. of Defense, Democrat: Scared because it will be open season on gay America. Every religious group will make it acceptable to kill LGBTQ Americans.

Bob Witeck: If Trump wins, I will feel devastated. It will send me and millions of us into a tailspin of anxiety and loss of hope however, I will immediately go back to work to try to unseat Donald Trump through the means of impeachment and criminal indictment if possible. We cannot be complacent if the unthinkable occurs and Trump is returned to the White House. I would never go into exile, but remain an American and fight back harder than ever.

Merle Yost: I will be cashing out, packing and leaving the country.

Joe Biden — Photo: Gage Skidmore

How do we recover from the bitter partisanship affecting America right now?

Mike Bento: We can’t rely on our elected officials. We need to take personal responsibility for building a more just and loving community at the neighborhood, local, state and national level.

Dana Beyer: We ignore the fascists, racists and Nazis, and do what it takes to reform the judiciary, economy, healthcare, criminal justice, etc. No more “but what will happen when they regain power?” Don’t let that happen. Create change that will last for two generations until people forget how awful these days were.

Gordon Binder: A long haul in my view even with a change in Administrations and the Senate. There is so much mistrust and antagonisms. What to do? Maybe focus on some serious current issues, environmental justice, engaging farmers and ranchers in rural states to promote sustainable agriculture in ways that incentivise good methods, helping displaced workers in the coal and gas/oil find new opportunities — jobs, training, education, and the like, focusing on resiliency in communitie facing extreme weather events, sea level rise — places that cut across the political spectrum. And of course focus on reopening the country safely.

Arnold Burgess: Nothing less than a National Reconciliation Committee will do. Coming to terms nationally with the past is a step in the right direction.

Peter C.: We need a more balanced media. I’m a moderate Democrat. But I am also an observant critical thinker. The bias and the spin is palpable.

Gregory Cendana: We must advance a bold, visionary agenda that tackles the root causes and transforms the systems and structures that create conditions for such bitter partisanship. This includes making it easier to vote, moving to publicly financed campaigns, ending partisan gerrymandering, restoring and expanding voting rights, growing the courts and shifting more funds to directly impacted communities.

Poppy Champlin: Beat the Republicans and take back the Senate is the only way to win. There is no way to agree until the Dems have the power back to lead the correct way. They have been following the wrong leader and need to see the error of their way and get on the right train. Don’t need no ticket, you just get on board.

Caleb Copeland: It starts at the top, and I believe Biden would lead this country with honor and dignity. I honestly don’t think America will recover from the damage Trump has done for many years, and I think much of the recovery will be brought about by younger generations.

Ray Daniels: New leadership on all levels will solve the extreme divide.

Todd Evans: Stop with the false equivalences. Democrats need to be proud in what they stand for and not afraid to push that forward.

Russwin Francisco: Hyper-partisanship is poisoning our politics, making our democracy increasingly dysfunctional. A fixation on our differences is fracturing us into warring tribes. Polarization has accelerated under Trump but he is a symptom of the problem, not its cause. While our politics are disproportionately dominated by special interests, most Americans want the two parties to find ways to work together in the national interest. I believe we can solve our polarization if enough committed individuals begin building a coalition dedicated to defending our democracy. We need to recognize that the problem of polarization is bigger than politics. Its cause stems from our economic and cultural divides. The middle class has been squeezed between stagnant wages and lower social mobility for decades. Small businesses struggle as big businesses get massive breaks. The hollowing out of mid-sized manufacturing cities has helped to fuel the rise of populism. We need to seek out economic and social policies that do not divide us even further. We can overcome our polarization by defending core American values. E Pluribus Unum is literally the opposite of “us against them.” There is no “them” in the United States. There is only “us” working to form a more perfect union. Our independence as a nation is inseparable from our interdependence.

David Greer: One of two ways. First, we defeat the ugly right, then we defeat them again in 2024. Again in 2028. By that time Republicans will understand their vision is not a winning message. We will make the right come crawling back waving the white flag. Second is civil war and dissolution of the United States. There is no offering an olive branch of bipartisanship. Republicans only understand the raw act of power. The Amy Coney Barrett confirmation is case in point. Only the loss of power and political defeat of the GOP will allow America to recover from bitter partisanship.

John Guggenmos: That’s a very good question. How do we put Humpty Dumpty back together again? It’s hard to see a clear path forward with any possible remedies for this problem until there’s a distinction between social media as platforms or publishers. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram want to be viewed only as a neutral platform with no responsibility for what’s appearing on their servers. They say all of the user-generated content and the millions of articles, images, and videos are free speech with no way to efficiently curate the content.

I agree being a gatekeeper is difficult and expensive. However, we wouldn’t let a bank operate if it didn’t have sufficient capital reserves. We wouldn’t let a plane fly without adequately trained pilots and ground safety crew. And social media companies have the same responsibility to public safety and requirement not to be over-leveraged for the power we have given them. Any recovery from bitter partisanship has to include reform on how online platforms work and share misinformation and spread conspiracy theories and how “entertainment opinion shows” on news channels function. We have to have some shared experiences, some way to meet in the middle. Unfortunately, there is no time in history we can look back for guidance, we’re writing this cultural moment in real time.

Dan Kaufman: It will take more than a change in presidential leadership, although that’s a good and important start. Trump has made too many feel comfortable with their prejudices. We need to change our national conversation from who we fear to how we empathize. That’s not an easy task.

Thom Metzger: I don’t know. The people who support Trump seem to have an understanding of our world based on fake news, conspiracy theories, and anti-gay and anti-Black views. It’s hard to bridge a gap when even the smallest things lead to fights.

Neal Racioppo: When we use the word “partisanship” we usually mean loyalty to party, i.e. the Democrats or the Republicans. But Republican leaders (and followers) have given complete control of their party to wannabe authoritarians. There’s a reason why The Lincoln Project exists. The GOP is in shambles and their political power rests on a knife’s edge. What do they even stand for anymore except the licking on tRump’s boot? (Not kink-shaming here.) Why should Democrats attempt to mend lines of communication with Republicans, who have ceded the mantle of their party to racist, sexist, craven hypocrites? I mean, fuck that.

Pat Reilly: It will help to have an “American” president, one who realizes he has the best interests of all Americans in his portfolio. Modeling at the top levels how to stay safe in a pandemic will encourage others to do the same. Restoring the office of Pandemic Control in the executive branch, respecting the advice of top NIH and CDC leaders and getting more stimulus relief to families in need. We must restore and protect the ACA from incursions from the new Supreme Court majority. We must protect the rights of all Americans, seek police reform and judicial reform. We must message equality every day and in all our national discourse.

Richard Rosendall: We cannot recover without defeating the know-nothingism, nativism, and religious bullying driving Trump’s mob. The chances of repairing our social fabric improve with a new president who is not pathologically self-absorbed, who sees America’s diversity as a strength rather than a threat, heeds experts, and seeks to build rather than plunder and dismantle.

Zar: I don’t think we do.

Do you believe your civil rights are at risk in this election?

Fredo Alvarez: Absolutely. The current administration has seen fit to go after minorities of every stripe. As a gay Hispanic man, I’ve felt especially vulnerable since the outcome of the 2016 election.

Mike Bento: Absolutely. Marriage equality is on the ballot. Voting rights are on the ballot. Women’s rights are on the ballot. Criminal justice is on the ballot.

Sianna Boschetti: Yes! I have had to tell multiple family members that a vote for Biden is a vote to keep gay marriage legal. That’s far from the only civil right at risk; with Trump packing the Supreme Court, reproductive healthcare access, racial justice, religious freedom, and voting rights are also on the ballot.

Arnold Burgess: Of course! POC have never been viewed as equal in this country, and don’t get me started on the gay aspect.

Peter C.: Not particularly, no.

Caleb Copeland: Yes, but I’m far more worried about the civil rights of people of color, undocumented immigrants, and women.

Ray Daniels: I absolutely know that my civil rights are under attack and on the line.

Alphonso David: It could not be more clear: the civil rights of the LGBTQ community and all marginalized people are on the line in this election. For the past four years, we have seen relentless attacks on LGBTQ equality and our nation’s progress. From remaking our courts in their own extremist image to denying transgender people their right to serve, from supporting employment discrimination against us to refusing to address issues of discrimination against transgender students in schools, Trump and his enablers have targeted LGBTQ equality from their first day in office. And our community is not alone — in their rhetoric and actions, Trump and Pence have targeted the rights of our nation’s most marginalized. Another four years would spell disaster for our community and countless others. And it would likely spell even further erosion of our most basic rights, including our right to vote.

James Gaghan: As an individual that has a background of Fillipno and Mexican descent, while often being included as part of the White community there is very little chance that my civil rights are at risk. This election is about more than that however, the risk of others losing both the progress made and their civil rights either stripped away or restricted is a danger and could cause a long term pattern of affecting those that are “not like” those in power.

Kenya Hutton: Is water wet? ABSOLUTELY.

Joseph Izzo: Absolutely. The alt-right in this country, along with the lunatic QAnon adherents, Christian fascists and White Supremacists want to bring us back to the 1950s where straight, White males enforced segregation, kept women as Stepford wives and treated LGBTQ people as threats to the family, children and national security. Remember Senator Joseph McCarthy and his closeted side-kick, the infamous Roy Cohn? That’s what we’d be heading back to.

Dan Kaufman: As a gay man and a Jew, yes, of course. But I’m a white male. I’m more or less gonna be fine. I’m more concerned about the racial prejudice that’s been unleashed full force by Trump and his supporters. The way he talks about race is so vile, but his supporters glom onto his words like he’s a racial savant. He understands nothing except how to generate approval from his base. If people are hurt in the process, well, they weren’t his supporters anyway, so they don’t really matter to him.

Clinton Manning, 54, Gay, Md., Speech Writer and Editor, Democrat: Yes. But as an African American my civil rights are always at risk in the United States.

Jack Murphy: I find this a bit of a funny question because, as a young trans woman, my rights have been at risk during every election in my lifetime. That being said, this election is particularly frightening considering that a Trumpian victory will likely be seen as a seal of approval on all sorts of anti-LGBTQ rhetoric spread within the last five years and only serve to motivate further attacks on my dignity legislatively or otherwise. On the other hand, a tidal wave Democratic victory will be a much-needed repudiation to Trump and the things he and his Republican Party stand for.

Beyond legal rights, the most concerning change in the last five years has been the rise of overt transphobia in my own community; Trump’s illegitimate win in 2016 seems to have given the o.k to overt racism, homophobia, and transphobia. Unfortunately, such hate often rises to the level of outright violence. Trans rights have become part of the larger culture war, placed at the center of a bigger battle for forward-looking progress and backward-looking regress. Our lives and rights have become a political football. These changes will take much longer to undo. While Biden has a promising platform when it comes to LGBTQ rights, changing hearts and minds will prove to be a much more daunting task requiring the full gusto of our community and our allies. But, it is necessary work; since the piecemeal progress at the times of Stonewall to today, the effort to roll back the cultural and legal advances our community has made has not rested even a single day, and neither can we. The work will continue throughout 2020, the Biden presidency, and the whole decade.

Pat Reilly: Yes. As long as any one’s civil rights are at risk, so are mine.

Richard Rosendall: Yes. Queer folk would not be first on the chopping block, but the supremacists’ appetite would grow with every victory before a wildly unrepresentative Supreme Court. The further the Court goes in removing rights, the more its legitimacy will be in question and the further we will slide toward civil war.

Merle Yost: There is no question that our civil rights have been under attack for a long time. The past four years has simply been a more blatant example of those rights being eroded. We are dangerously close to being a failed state.

Would you trust a coronavirus vaccine if it becomes available while Trump is president? Why or why not?

Fredo Alvarez: I don’t know. I don’t trust anything that he or his appointees say. If that bit of news comes from a reputable expert, then maybe.

Mike Bento: Not a chance.

Dana Beyer: No. I don’t trust Putin. Biden will need to call in Fauci on Nov. 4th (or whenever) to set up a pandemic response team to show leadership and ensure the vaccine, if it comes, will be safe and effective.

Gordon Binder: Yes, if the scientific community comes out in favor of it and test results are transparent and fully analyzed.

Sianna Boschetti: I trust vaccines, but if Trump magically came up with something in the next two weeks, I probably wouldn’t take it. That’s way too fast for a vaccine, and if it didn’t work, I wouldn’t want to give anti-vaxxers something to cling onto for the next however many years.

Peter C: Yes. Because I trust the FDA and CDC to vet the vaccine in terms of immunological efficacy and safety before allowing it to be distributed.

Poppy Champlin: I might trust it but I don’t think we would get it. Only rich people and those in his upper crust will be able to get the real one. We might get a placebo, or detergent.

Ray Daniels: No, I would trust nothing before next fall. And he will no longer be President. Vaccines take time and should not be rushed.

Russwin Francisco: No American or European COVID-19 vaccine has completed Phase 3 clinical safety and efficacy trials. Even the front-runners, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax or Johnson & Johnson, are still signing up volunteers for their clinical trials, which are expected to involve at least 30,000 people per product. Having a vaccine adequately tested and ready for review by Jan. 20, 2021, the end of Trump’s first term, is an impossibility. It would take an act of God to convince me that any decision to approve a vaccine by November is not an election maneuver.

Adam Garnek: You know they say there are no stupid questions. Well, I just read one. Now for a response. If anyone in their right mind trusts a vaccine developed in a short period of time regardless of who’s President, they need to get their head examined. Trust the process and testing of the process first before possibly killing yourself with stupidity. This question aggravated and upset me. Don’t know why I wasted my time responding.

David Greer: I am laughing so hard even reading this question. Donald Trump will literally announce anything about a vaccine if it will help him politically. So no. I do not trust anything coming out of the orangutan.

Jack Murphy: The best chance for us to quickly and effectively bring an end to this epidemic and return to a life of concerts, birthday parties, and families gathered around the Thanksgiving table is the development and distribution of a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. Whether under a Trump, Biden, or Big Bird presidency, I will gladly take a vaccine that is approved by the FDA and demonstrated to be safe by its developers. I reject the anti-scientific swing of the Republican Party on everything from Coronavirus to climate change. I trust the career scientist at the FDA to make non-partisan decisions about the efficacy of a would-be vaccine. And, I reject the rhetoric of the anti-vax movement which puts people at risk of catching things from measles to meningitis.

However, in order for trust to be established, it is essential that whichever party controls the White House at the time of a vaccine’s eventual approval does not tout this triumph in a partisan way.

What I am less confident about is the ability and willingness of the medical-industrial complex to distribute the future vaccine in an equitable way. We have already seen how greedy pharmaceutical corporations have needlessly prolonged the AIDS epidemic by putting prevention drugs like PrEP out of reach for many lower-income folks. The government must ensure that the vaccine is free, widely available, and easy to access. Better yet, a system of universal Medicaid should be instituted as soon as possible to ensure equal access to a vaccine and all forms of treatment. Not only will this help establish a more equal and successful system of healthcare in our country, bringing us in line with much of the developed world, but it will also serve as a protective force against future pandemics (that experts say should be expected). Equal access to healthcare isn’t just a pipedream of free stuff, it is a practical plan that will improve societal health and make us more resilient against the new and complex health threats of the dynamic 21st century.

Pat Reilly: If a vaccine becomes available before February, I will look to the leadership of NIH on whether it’s safe for me and my pre-existing conditions. Specifically, if Tony Fauci says take it, I will.

Zar: No. I’m leery about any vaccine, especially a new one which hasn’t been adequately tested. The CDC under Trump has no credibility; I would be more comfortable with a vaccine developed in a country with a functional government.

Why is it important that Americans vote in this election?

Fredo Alvarez: It’s important to vote in EVERY election, whether or not a Presidential race is on the ballot. But this year, the stakes are too high to let your voice go unheard.

Dana Beyer: Because apathy is dangerous, and people need to learn basic civics and take responsibility for their government. Those that don’t become fodder for the next authoritarian/totalitarian.

Sianna Boschetti: I think Biden stated it well in the final presidential debate: “The character of our country is on the ballot.” Americans on both sides of the aisle can decide to bite the bullet and vote for a centrist of an establishment Democrat, or willingly submit to at least four more years of watching our country descend into chaos.

Donald Burch: Voting is one of the most important rights that we have. Voting should be required here as it is in some other countries.

Peter C.: It’s the best way to express one’s preference. Not to vote is to allow someone else to choose for you. If you don’t vote, you really have no room to complain about the outcome. So I guess I see voting as more of a duty, but also a right that ought not be squandered.

Ray Daniels: It is important to vote in every election but this one will literally change the trajectory of our democracy in the most profound way.

Alphonso David: Right now, our lives depend on our vote more than ever before. More than 225,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States with no vaccine in sight, and we are confronting systemic racial injustice that Black and Brown people have endured for far too long in this country. None of us can afford to be silent. We know voting alone will not fix our broken system. But we also know that nothing will get fixed if we don’t vote.

Sandy Fabio: Everyone has a right to vote even if I don’t agree. My three sisters support Trump but I can’t convince them otherwise. It is a right the people have fought for. I went to War for this country and paid a high price but I did it to protect our democracy.

Russwin Francisco: One of the most important rights of American citizens is the right to vote. Protection and equal treatment under the law, due process, access to housing, resources and services, our basic liberties are contingent on our participation as a nation to elect officials that best represent our interests and the common good. Vote because our lives depend on it. In 2020, our lives literally depend on it.

David Greer: Because this is an epochal election. Just as the 1932 and the 1980 elections changed direction of the country for generations, so now 2020 will too, if Joe Biden wins. In 1932 Americans chose the security provided by a strong social safety net. That position prevailed in some form for 50 years. In 1980, Americans chose limited government to unleash American ingenuity. 40 years later, after two economic collapses, devastating wars, a climate out of control and a global pandemic, Americans will embrace the size and power of big government to solve these problems. But only if we vote for Joe Biden.

Garry Gsquare: It is how we bring about change in our democracy. If you don’t vote, don’t complain. Thousands have died to defend and support our freedoms. It’s the least we can do to say thank you to those individuals.

John Guggenmos: I wonder if this is what it felt like in the final years of the Roman Republic? We can’t have a healthy democracy for many more years if we are on a diet of misinformation, lies, and half-truths. It’s difficult, if not impossible, for our country and our institutions to survive when the people in charge of taking care of them, are using a wrecking ball as a management tool. How much longer can we last if we can’t agree on the concept of truth? If the “news source” used not only was there no guarantee that we’d be seeing precisely the same facts but almost guaranteed that it wouldn’t be the same, a decade or maybe two?

The hyper-tribalism encouraged and promoted by the White House is poisonous. And we need to be able to talk about issues in ways that allow for civil conversation, that aren’t happening online in 140 characters. We need to end the obscene idea that the Washington Post and Breitbart news have any equivalence. We can’t collectively throw our hands up in the air. We have to reject Trump and all that he stands for, we have to vote him out.

Joseph Izzo: If you wish to live in a democracy where everyone has equal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, it’s your civic duty to vote in every election. DEMOCRACY IS NOT A SPECTATOR SPORT! Get off your ass and VOTE!

John Klenert: Simple. All elections matter!

Ron Mercer, 68, Gay, N.Y., Retired, Democrat: You don’t vote, you lose your bitching rights.

Thom Metzger: Nothing is more important. Our system hasn’t been adequately representative of all Americans, because so many people don’t participate. If everyone voted, our system would be so different. Let’s join together and change our country for the better!

Adam O.: Civil rights are at stake and we have an incompetent president that can’t handle a crisis. Go out and vote if you haven’t. Know the rules for your jurisdiction. Swallow your pride if you have issues with the rules. Go get your vote counted! Way too much is at stake here.

Neal Racioppo: If America goes down in flames, we’re taking the rest of the planet down with us and that is too sad to even contemplate. We need to get on our knees and beg the rest of the world to forgive us and take us back: Baby, we screwed up, like, BIG TIME, please, please don’t go, we are so sorry. Please, let us make it up to you. Let’s lead the way on climate change. Let’s preserve and protect LGBTQ rights. Let’s make Kamala Harris the first BIPOC VP. Let the hell of the past four years mean something by galvanizing the electorate to participate in the election at a level not seen in a generation. Let’s make America great again, by having it be great in new ways: with affordable health care for all, a New Green Deal, a 51st state called D.C., Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Let’s ensure that America is a country we can all be proud to call home. I mean, we can’t ALL move to New Zealand.

Pat Reilly: Donald Trump is a dangerous person to have in power. The Senate is opportunistically looking the other way on things he has done that are blatantly illegal. I really believe that he is unhinged and that the 25th Amendment should at least have been considered by the Congress. The only way to remove him now is through the ballot box. I hope it’s a landslide so that the “Proud Boys” and their ilk don’t think they have any cause to rampage.

Any citizen who does not vote is reneging on the most important responsibility of being a citizen of this once exemplary country. At least voters can say that we did what we could to save democracy.

Bobbi Strang: The only way we can hold back the rising tide of fascism in our nation is by voting in large numbers. A clear and decisive electoral win for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is the best way to do this. The 45th president, as a narcissist, would hopefully be too humiliated to instigate violence under those circumstances. A narrow Biden win could result in the current president encouraging violence and civil unrest — as well as a court battle that would end up in front of a packed Supreme Court.

Bob Witeck: It’s crucial Americans vote in every election. There is so much at stake that directly and inexorably touches our lives, our families, our futures. It is inconceivable to me that anyone with the privilege and right to vote would not exercise it. I first voted in 1972 and have never missed an election since.

Merle Yost: Either vote or shut up. We have a method for participating in our government, and this is it. We are a nation of victims and complainers. This is the chance to do something, and stop being a victim.

Please make sure you vote on Tuesday, Nov. 3. For more information, visit www.vote.gov.

To participate in the next Metro Weekly Forum, please join our email list at www.metroweekly.com/join.

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