Can We Fix Us?
Like most of you, I've been following the latest election results with more than a passing interest. Of course I'm curious to find out who will be the next leader of America, but along the way, over these past few days, I've come to realize that I'm heartbroken over what we've become.
It's been obvious for some time now, but for me it has finally sunk in, that we are a country in transition. This is the second time in my lifetime that we've been at a crossroad as a country, and how we handle the next few months, and years, will determine the long term sustainability of our democracy.
The 1960's and 1970's saw America going through an important, and contentious, change that touched every person, and nearly every aspect of our lives. Social change, political change, and ending a war, all at the same time, tore apart the country at its seams. Yet once we pulled back the veil, we realized that it was the right time for this to happen, and we worked together, mostly, to affect positive change.
Today, once again, we are a country that seems impossibly polarized, and unwilling, and unsure, of what to do next. It feels like a rerun some days from my youth. Young versus old. Rich versus poor. White people versus people of color. Truth versus fiction. Educated versus not and science versus quackery.
As we impatiently await election results, the one undeniable result is that 50% of America likes the direction we are going, while the other 50% can't fathom how anyone could be happy with what is happening. I can't ever remember when the country was so evenly, and diversely, split along political lines.
There is an enormous lack of understanding of basic things right now that contribute to our breakdown. It has become clear, in the past few years, that way too many Americans have no clue as to how elections work, and what the role of the various branches of government are. Unfortunately the President, and the media, are two of the biggest offenders regarding misinformation of our political world.
The single most asked question of me is how does the electoral college work and why do we use it? This is something I learned in the 5th grade, and it shocks me that more people don't understand the single most important facet of how our country works. I would recommend you do a search on your favorite engine and read about how and why we have this system.
There are a lot of things going on right now that are scary to many people. The values of our country are changing, and while growth is good, some changes want to take us back to a darker period in our country's history. This cannot happen as we cannot go backwards. I know it's concerning for many of us to hear, and see, things like Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ gains, and white power rally's.
Many of us want to see a return of hard work means a good quality of life, doing what's in the best interest for America, supporting our allies, and restoring faith as a foundation of our countries moral fiber. We can return to those things but we need to stop yelling at each other and start listening to each other instead.
Look, nobody has all the answers alone, no matter how often they tell you they do. We also cannot live in a vacuum of our own little world, there are others out there who see things from a starkly different perspective. The population of the country is different today than it was in 1940, and we have to accept that it is, and deal with things like they are today.
It also doesn't mean that we have to completely throw out our way of life and start all over from scratch either. Listening to what both bothers your neighbor, and what he needs, is how we start to fix things. Everybody has different viewpoints on where we are headed and where we would like to see things go, so let's start talking to each other so we gain perspective on things.
Fairness does not equal socialism. Protection does not equal fascism. Respect does not equal subversion. Change does not equal destruction.
So what can we do to start to get us back on the road to recovery?
One of the first things I believe we should do is eliminate all political parties. If you run for public office you should run as an American, not a Republican or a Democrat. This would be a gigantic first step in stopping the polarization. Do what is right for the USA not what is right for your party.
Secondly, we need to establish term limits for all political offices. Having someone in any office for too long causes more problems than it does good. I don't know what those limits should be, but I'm sure we can get some experts together and solve that issue.
Next, we need to hold each other accountable for what we do and say. The constant spewing of misinformation, and attacking each other, needs to stop. If you can't get along then you need to be called out for it. Also, we need to take responsibility for the stupid things we do. Stop blaming someone, or something, else for your stupidity or bad move.
Respect each other should be on this list also. It's OK to have a different point of view, but you need to realize that not everyone is going to agree with you, and you might need to open your ears and listen to their side. You might be surprised at what you hear.
Do some research on your own for god's sake. With the internet at our fingertips, there is no excuse to not go and look up things that you hear, or are told. Don't accept everything someone tells you as fact and then go out and repeat their nonsense yourself without first checking to make sure it is in fact true.
Finally, be nice to each other. It won't kill you to do this.
I'm just a guy with some concerns who has a platform to express them. It doesn't make me right but I think I'm on the right page. I know that many of you have stopped reading my more political columns and that's OK. I would ask that you at least try to understand that it is alright to have different feelings on subjects and it doesn't make either of us bad people.
The country is headed in a direction that, if not addressed, will take us to a place we don't want to go, and it will be too late to fix it, if we don't address it today.