Opinion

I want to be a citizen and vote, but not this year

Geysar Gurbanov is a Tacoma resident who was born and raised in Azerbaijan.
Geysar Gurbanov is a Tacoma resident who was born and raised in Azerbaijan. courtesy

During the final presidential debate Wednesday, Republican nominee Donald Trump set the stage for a dangerous scenario when he refused to accept the outcome of the election and concede in case he loses.

When Trump, without any evidence, claims that our system is rigged, he defies fundamental tenets of our democracy. By doing so, he undermines the vision of the Founding Fathers and insults the American ideology — the very idea he wants to revive.

As he preaches doomsday prophecies about the final days of America that only his messianic candidacy can save, he steals hope from millions of Americans. He hijacks a future that is based on our faith in the rectitude of the election system.

I am not voting during this election season. I am four years away from my citizenship. Yet I am glad I cannot vote because I do not envy Americans who are facing a challenging choice. It is depressing that this country of almost 325 million people failed to produce more appealing and, most importantly, honest candidates.

As an immigrant, I have quickly learned that the concept of democracy and its integrity are engraved in the hearts and minds of Americans. Such a phenomenon is a powerful force that unites this country. It is admirable how Americans with their distinctive religions, traditions and beliefs can, for the most part, peacefully coexist as a single nation within one government.

Despite Trump’s continuous attacks against immigrants, I still believe in American exceptionalism — not in the sense that whoever possesses a U.S. passport is better than any other citizen of the world, but in the way that the American ideology exhibits a special character based on democratic principles.

Civilizations, countries and nations rise and fall because their political systems are restricted to socially constructed paradigms based on divisive and exclusive features. In contrast, the American ideology is not guided by a specific religion, race or ethnicity. The U.S. is the only country whose identity is inspired by a timeless, humanistic and, to an extent, divine idea.

The positive effort of the Founding Fathers with which they forged this nation is a testament to their progressive vision. They were not political demagogues who were driven by greed and hatred.

The U.S. was built on optimism, courage and faith in our democracy. And, unlike what Trump claims, the American ideology is not a static and monolithic concept. On the contrary, due to its spirit, it constantly evolves and improves.

Without a doubt, the American nation from the dawn of its independence until this very day faces many challenges. However, it is the exceptionalism of U.S. democracy — its integrity and resilience — that helps Americans overcome countless obstacles.

But it does not mean our nation is immune to evil. In fact, this election season proves the opposite.

The destiny of this country is continuously challenged by evil. But it is in the process of struggle against evil that people learn to reinvent themselves and continue their historical journey toward a more progressive, peaceful and humanistic society. The idea of deterring evil defines one of the most important aspects of Americanism.

The weakness of evil is in its tendency to destroy its most radical adherents. Despite Trump’s bogus promise to guarantee the prosperity of one group of Americans at the expense of others, he ultimately will create a vicious and disastrous cycle of collective suffering.

Every political, social or economic order delivered on fear, hatred, deception and pessimism inevitably collapses like a house of cards. Draining the swamp of evil and corruption begins with Trump. He cannot save America without changing himself first.

Geysar Gurbanov, a native of Azerbaijan and a resident of Tacoma, is an alumnus of Rotary World Peace program and graduated with a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina. Follow him on Twitter @geysar.

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