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If you’re like me, you are more than finished with election season. I have my personal opinions about both major-party candidates, and I know who I am voting for. That’s not what this is about. And regardless of any decisions that I have personally made, I think most people would agree with me that this election has been especially bad. I’ve been annoyed with elections in the past, and even gotten irritated with my friends and family based on political discussion. But this particular election has caused actual friendships to crumble, further division between people who side with one candidate or another, and even separation within the political parties themselves. And after all of this turmoil, we are left with two candidates that most people agree are mediocre at best and dangerous at worst. How did we get here? And with almost 319 million smart, creative, and talented people in the U.S., how are we stuck deciding between such a lackluster offering from both major political parties? It’s frustrating all around.

trumpTo make matters worse, now the issue of sexual assault has come up for both candidates. On one hand, the video of Donald Trump was released where he was bragging about how he treats women. Problematically, what he describes is pretty clearly sexual assault. He also is involved in his own child rape lawsuit, and is set to have a status conference hearing for December 16th in a New York court.

clintonOn the other hand, Hillary Clinton doesn’t stand without any accusations. Many people are reminding her about the rape cases her husband was involved in. And while that in and of itself doesn’t directly reflect on Hillary’s character, the fact that she’s been accused of threatening and silencing the very women involved does. This also comes alongside the fact that she defended a rapist in court in the 70s, and when she discussed the case with Roy Reed in the mid-1980s, many people are uncomfortable about the fact that she laughs several times in the interview. And of course, both candidates come with an array of support on all levels, dismissing their behavior for a myriad of reasons.

Look, I’m not here to sway you politically. It likely wouldn’t work anyway. When the video of Trump’s 2005 conversation was released this past Friday, I just didn’t have the energy to respond. I am sick of this election, and I am sick of hearing about sexual assault in every corner of the world, including with those who want to lead it. I am just tired. And I remember telling AVFTI vice president, Eric, that I just didn’t know how to respond to it. I didn’t know professionally or personally what to say. I was just at a loss. And last night, after (for some reason) watching the 2nd presidential debate, my wife Pinky, who is also AVFTI’s volunteer coordinator, posted a Facebook status.

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Hope. Of course it’s hope. That’s how we respond because that’s the whole reason we exist…we want to bring hope to people affected by sexual violence. It’s easy to get bogged down by the negativity and ugliness of the world, but at the end of the day, hope still exists. This presidential election is important to a lot of people for a lot of reasons – some of which I agree with and others I don’t. And I do care on a personal level who gets elected and who doesn’t get elected. But I also know that there isn’t a candidate who can stop hope, despite what their opposition says. There isn’t a candidate that can stop us, as individuals in the real world (which politicians don’t understand anyway) from loving each other and supporting each other. No matter who is president after this and after every other election, we have each other. Turns out hope is something they can’t take away, and it’s the most important thing we have.

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