This may not look like much, but is one of my most prized possessions. It is my brother’s only “I voted” sticker which he stuck on a New York City paper weight. He got the sticker for voting for Barack Obama in the 2008 Texas Democratic primary in Lubbock, Texas. He was so excited to vote in a primary that actually mattered-- and to counter my vote for Hillary Clinton in the New York primary. We disagreed on who should win the Democratic Primary, which was a small thing, given that we were the only two Democrats in our immediate family.
We were together the night Barack Obama won the presidency, but by that point, his mind was gone. He was already in a psychotic episode that he would never exit. Before Obama finished his first term in office, my brother had taken his life. Suicide was the cause of death, but the laws that prevented me and our family from helping him were the true culprits.
Tonight, on what could be my 27th brother's birthday, I am proud that Hillary Clinton has become the Democratic nominee. Because she is a badass, and because she is a woman. I know that my brother would support her if he were here, because, as our grandmother said, “I made him this way.” My brother was my mini-me, down the the mole we each have/had on the center of our chins.
My brother and I shared many loves—Bob Dylan, nachos, UT football, 90s movies—but our love of politics was the greatest. I made my brother a Democrat, but in his death, he made me an advocate. I am an advocate for helping people with serious mental illness and their families in crisis. This has meant “crossing the aisle” to urge my legislators (I am in New York, after all) to vote for Republican-led bills. Specifically the "Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act in 2015." Because of my brother, I am more nonpartisan now than I ever have been before. I don’t really care what someone’s political affiliation is as long as they will help correct the system that let my brother die.
That is not the case in this year’s presidential election. There is not a thing about Donald Trump’s platform that supports people with serious mental illness or their families. If there was it would not be so easy for me to support Hillary this time around. But Hillary Clinton supports americans with disabilities, unlike Trump, and wants to keep the Affordable Care Act in tact which has expanded mental health care for SIXTY MILLION people. She has been an advocate for mental health parity for a looong time. I'm open to hearing the other side, but there are no ideas or plans on Donald Trump's website.
So, in November, I will be voting for Hillary Clinton. My brother made me this way.