My nephew, Colton Gray, will be voting in his first election this November. I dedicate my No-Trump Vote to him.
I remember feeling like a true American citizen with the first national vote I cast. It felt important because it was. And so it will go for Colton. I want Colton to know in the turbulent, fraught and divisive election cycle, his vote is important and it matters and that he has nothing in common with Trump.
As a young white man raised in rural Northwest Iowa, Colton has learned more about what it means to be a man in his short life than Trump ever has, and as it seems, ever will.
Colton loves the women in his life. He treats his mother, girlfriend, grandmother, aunts, female cousins, teachers and coaches with kindness, reverence, respect, and goodwill. Through the varied roles each of these women has played in his life, he has seen strength, intelligence, and tenacity play out in real time. Their voice and presence has always been welcome and valued. Shape and size have never been a part of the conversation with or about women for Colton because….why? I am quite certain he doesn’t even understand how this is a factor, which is just another reason I love him. But I do want him to understand it’s significance. Too many women have spent their lives defining themselves by the size our culture thinks we should be. Colton, by his very actions, plays a role in changing the narrative of how woman are perceived and valued.
Colton loves guns. As a hunter, war history buff, and a competitive skeet shooter at his community college, his interest in the gun debate is sincere. He doesn’t want them taken away and yet he knows there is a problem. I have encouraged him to be a part of the solution, especially when he doesn’t agree. That is how we move forward, through rigorous debate, through speaking up, through the belief that it matters to be involved..
Colton loves his country and he loves the country, particularly the corner of rural Northwest Iowa where he lives. Rural Iowa feels forgotten after the primaries. It feels left out of the economic conversations where elite liberals rarely spend time. I have watched him cycle through news clips, listen to those he loves and respects discuss the election, and I hear him wondering, “Well, what about us?” When he reaches out to me I try to answer him as honestly as I can, but he is learning that taking this stuff apart is hard and complicated and can’t be assessed with an errant quip or a statement of truth simply because he wants it to be true….yet another quality he has that Trump does not.
Colton loves being a helper. He lives to serve and do good where he is whether that be on his grandfather’s farm, as the oldest brother of four, in his 4-H club, or as a volunteer with a rural fire department or inside elementary classrooms. Through his investment of time with people, he has shown that he cares more for others than himself in way Trump has yet to demonstrate.
I dedicate this to Colton and all young white men trying to determine what their role is in this election. They are certainly seeing what it is not; to perpetuate anger and hostility and fear and bigotry; to make fun of the poor, the disadvantaged, the other (anyone but a white man); to succumb to “It’s only business.” On his journey from boy to man, from child to adult first-time voter, I applaud his willingness to dig in and investigate how his vote will count.
I want Colton Gray to know I’mWithHer in this election primarily because I’m with him. He shows more promise, compassion, humility, and leadership than Trump ever will. Trump does not care about the Colton’s of this world. Trump has nothing to offer those he cannot find the audacity to listen to and learn from-- young men like my nephew who will shape our country through their honest hard work, compassion, and love of ALL the people in their lives.
My No-Trump Vote is a vote for Colton’s future, one made brighter by the faith I have in him. May his actions always be led by his good heart and give him the courage to speak up through his vote so the place we both call home is not forgotten.