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American Voter: Margaret Colburn

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Margaret Colburn

Margaret Colburn, American voter [Al Jazeera]

Age: 54

Occupation: Teacher

Residence: Jefferson County, Alabama 

Voted in 2016 for: Hillary Clinton

Will vote in 2020 for: Joe Biden

Top election issue: Equality and inclusiveness

Will you vote? Why or why not?

“I have always voted, even though sometimes I question whether my vote counts, because I live in Alabama and we have the Electoral College.”

“I had been a Republican my entire life … It was really pre-2016, I feel like the cognitive dissonance that I was experiencing over the Republican Party, the GOP, and where my values stood was happening. But you’re talking about a white cisgender female in Birmingham, Alabama, and we are raised to be Republican. This is just what you do. That is the party of Alabama.”

“As I got into adulthood and as I got into my 30s, I started questioning … I started getting my news more from exploring the internet versus watching TV and or reading the local news. And I started realising, ‘Wait a minute, this is not lining up with what I believe.’”

“But I always felt that it was important to vote. I always felt that you know, that that is our civic duty as Americans to vote, and we have the opportunity to vote. Now that being said, I do feel that they make voting difficult for many people.”

“There’s so many different things that are happening in the United States that are deliberately designed to make it more difficult for people and often marginalised people to vote. And I feel that we need to make it easier for people to vote. We need to make it easier for people to exercise their civic duty.”

What is your number-one issue?

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“As an adult, I’m so very fortunate that I have many close friends from a diverse background. I have friends that are Muslim, I have friends that are Jewish. I have friends that are Black and friends that are LGBTQ and I feel that these friendships have given me an opportunity to see firsthand, and to, maybe not understand – because I don’t think I can fully understand as a white woman – how difficult the process is, how being marginalised is, but to see even a small snippet of how the racism, the power, everything in the United States, it goes so completely against what our founding fathers meant for the United States to be: Everyone equal.”

“My friends have had things happen to them and situations and events in their lives, which because of their colour, because of their faith, because of their gender choices, they have had a more difficult time. And I realised we should not have that. That should not even be part of the equation.”

“To me honestly, my number one fault [with the US] is the fact that our administration, not only do they not support people that are, for lack of better words, different from them … but also that they do things and say things that, in fact, sow division against these people. We can’t have that.”

“In this administration, every time our leader opens his mouth, it’s another divisive sentence of not supporting or even remotely understanding. They have zero empathy. Zero. None of them even try to listen to the other side.”

Who will you vote for?

“Joe Biden.”

Is there a main reason you chose your candidate?

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“He best represents what our country needs. We need someone who is not divisive. We need someone who respects all walks of life and all people in the United States. He is someone, particularly, that will surround himself with people that are knowledgeable in his cabinet and in his administration and he will listen to them. I feel that is extremely important.”

“He will listen. He will not sow hate. He will create areas where people can come together. I feel like that’s so desperately needed right now.”

“Personally, it is incredibly difficult because – especially being in the Deep South and where I live – we’ve turned into an ‘us’ and ‘them’ … I feel like there’s never been an administration that has done that, that has turned us into an ‘us’ and a ‘them’. We need to turn into, ‘We are an America together’, and I think Biden will do that.”

Are you happy with the state of the country?

“Absolutely not. Absolutely not. I’m almost fearful every day to look online at news sources because every day, there’s something else that happens, something else that’s being said. I think, ‘Could we not go any lower?’ And the answer is: ‘Yes, we could.’ We could have something else happen.”

“Recently, Trump commuted the sentence of [Roger] Stone. I’m sorry, but you are the president of the United States. It is not your position to commute the sentence of a friend of yours or someone who worked personally with you. If that doesn’t speak volumes as to not just his character, but his complete lack of respect for the office he has been elected to, I don’t know what does.”

“I can’t even begin to tell you how disappointing it is where our country is right now.”

What would you like to see change?

“For one, to have a president who, when he speaks, he tries to bring people together. When the president speaks, that he shows empathy and shows respect for others that are different from him. That we try to enact legislation that supports people rather than tear[s] people down.”

“I feel like we need to really investigate and decide what can we do as a country to support everybody, not just some people.”

“I feel like we have to seriously look at what can we do, what can the legislature do? And what can the president do in order to, I’m not saying give people things, but give them a sense of hope. Give them hope in that, ‘Yes, I do have healthcare’. ‘Yes, I do have childcare.’”

Do you think the election will change anything?

“I hope. I guess that’s the reason why I’m voting for Biden. I have hope that it will. I can’t honestly say for certain that I know that it will, but one thing I do know [is that] if we have four more years of Trump then our country as we know it will cease to exist. We are going down a very dark road.”

What is your biggest concern for the US?

“A multitude of things. Basically we have elected a man who has subverted authority, who has subverted the Constitution, and sows divisiveness.”

“He’s becoming power hungry. He only thinks about himself and I’m assuming his family. I feel like it’s just going to get worse – the divisiveness, the lack of concern for the United States itself. Because [getting re-elected] is going to give him the go-ahead. That’s going to be the go-ahead to say, ‘Oh, guess what? I can continue doing this’. And we can’t do that. We can’t.”

“We can’t have that. If we do, then we are in very sad state.”

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