Like a good citizen, I dutifully watched every prime-time minute of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions these past two weeks, and many more hours of pre-prime and various network commentary. I take my role as a voter seriously, and this year, I'm not just serious: I'm dead serious. So are other folks. The glut of horrified, hand-wringing articles from every form and faction of media have battered us all like word tornadoes. Election years are doozies, we know, and emotions run high. But the stakes have never been this high. I've seen 50+ years of American politics, friends (and not friends), and Houston (and everywhere else), we have a problem.

You know what it is. Oh, you know, even if you are willing to put every shred of your own humanity aside to ignore it. But you know the problem, and you might even know the gravity of it.

You know what a truly bad person is. You know what they do and don't do. You know from your own life experience, you know from the values you got from your parents or religious upbringing or just the good old "Golden Rule." You know the kind of person who seems to have no limit to the amount of cruelty they dish out, and you do everything you can to make sure this person isn't your boss, or your "friend," or your spouse. When you've encountered a truly bad person, you speak in hushed tones as to not draw attention to yourself and his or her ire, or you are pushed to fury into a fight you never win, because you have a filter, a stopping point. You know better than to engage someone like that, right?

But maybe not. What has it cost you, when you've put your trust in a sociopath? Did you lose your job? Get a divorce? Go to jail? Or did it just embitter you? Did you follow the rules and get shafted anyway? Did you believe, and get that belief shredded into dust? Did you get left behind while a lot of people you think didn't deserve anything made some gains?

And then...did you do it again? Because we are taught to follow leaders, taught to honor "strength," did you go right ahead and trust a truly bad person again, even though all your experience and your gut told you not to? Did you allow fear to make your choices for you again?

None of us are perfect. We all have, at times, put our faith into people who have betrayed us. The best we can do is learn from that and decide how to proceed differently in the future. The worst we can do is repeat the same mistakes with where we put our lot...or allow the bitterness, cruelty, fear, and ignorance to spread inside us like a cancer, until the day comes when we ourselves are truly bad people.

We face a presidential election which has confounded most of the world. WHY, they say, HOW? We know why and how; it was a trainwreck some saw coming down the track decades ago. We aren't getting the principled elder with an unparalleled track record of political integrity. Nope. We are getting a career politician with some excellent qualities and some not-so-great, and...a truly bad person. This should be, for anyone who is clear-headed, adult, informed, and reasonable, a slam-dunk choice in November.

But it is not, pollsters tell us. And I swear, if you vote for goddamned Donald Trump, I will judge you. I will judge you all the rest of your days, even if we grew up together, are family, or have other redeeming qualities as a human being. I will judge you for saddling me and my family with the single worst presidential candidate our country has ever seen, on every single objective measure anyone could imagine, and a danger to our nation and our world's safety and survival.

I will absolutely go right ahead and assume you are A-OK with blatant bigotry and racism, hate speech, misogyny, disrespect of grieving military families, the disabled, the poor, and anyone who dares stand up to bad people. I'll know you feel good about short-tempered billionaires who cannot control their mouths nor actions no matter what, even claiming he could shoot someone dead and his dedicated followers would still love him. I'll expect that you are fine with thinking a businessman who has shafted countless people and provoked large, ugly lawsuits is the kind of man you like to represent you. I'll know you are totally cool with someone lying more far more than any candidate in United States history has, right to your face, over and over, because he knows all he has to do is justify the worst feelings inside you that you just can't cope with.

And if you even whisper the words, "Bengazi" or "emails" to me, I will send you off to read Politifact and come back with the stench of decades of Fox News washed off you. There is only one competent human being that can run the country in this election. One. Any third-party candidate does NOTHING but pull votes away from the one competent candidate who can win and strengthens the truly bad person's chances of winning. Please re-read that sentence until you understand that it is a fact in the numbers game. The electoral college doesn't give a rat's ass about your principled alt vote, so you might as well start wearing your "Make America Great Again" hat, Greens and Independents and Libertarians. That will be your reality, so get cozy with it now, and all that it means.

My guy didn't get his chance. So now I will vote for Clinton. Judge me all day long for supporting her faults, for following Bernie Sanders lead, for having the audacity to question your character for not doing the same. I love my country, and it won't survive a Trump presidency. I would be a lousy citizen, a lousy mother, and a lousy person if I didn't do everything I could to stop a nightmare from happening. All I have is my vote, and yes, the ability to write another horrified, hand-wringing article.

The things that threaten world stability the most aren't ISIS and whatever brown-skinned people you think are ruining everything. It's income inequality, educational inequality, and the horror of climate change. Don't take my word for it; it's in every accounting of human history there is, from every credible scientist and scholar, people who have dedicated their lives to study and critical analysis. Look at the big picture. If you want a fully radicalized world, drowning in salt water, vote Trump.

And yes, I know you don't care. We all know. It's damn sure Trump knows. Do what you're going to do. Let your god sort you out.