In New England, it seems that there is an unwritten law, which states that political yard signs must be well contained until after Labor Day, then suddenly all bets are off!
Driving by public places festooned with placards soliciting my vote, would normally give me a bit of a rush. In my office, I have a stack of political yard signs, many autographed, that I had anticipated displaying this autumn; alas none of the people I had looked forward to voting for are still in this race.
We, in the United States, are in the midst of the most contentious, ghastly, and ill-mannered election in my lifetime; and while it seems that “most Americans” can agree on little, I will boldly venture forward with the statement that we, as a nation, are ready for this horrible election to be peacefully over.
I am weary of watching this inept political season play out in an openly biased media, which no longer even pretends to be doing the job of informing, but rather are determined to persuade the public, to cast their vote according to what the “newscaster” believes is correct. A pox on all of them – from cable, to print, to radio, to the web, to network – what happened to distinguishing between the news and an editorial?
The editorial in front of you may well be one of the most heavy-laden I have ever felt compelled to write. I knew, as this grisly election season finally began to draw towards its thunderous conclusions that I would have to address it, in this column. How could I not take note of this incredibly sad, yet notable moment in our history?
When the election season began, I was full of hope, enthusiasm, and anticipation; not only was I looking forward to a change in our executive leadership, but I also imagined the possibility of a functioning legislature that might, among other things, enable our judicial branch to get back to work fully staffed. I had also decided to take advantage of our physical proximity to New Hampshire and their unique role in this process, which provides the voter with unfettered access to the candidates. My I certainly miss those days!
In the last year I have gone from living in the full throttle political aficionado mode, to being in a state of mind, where I can barely watch the news. No longer can I think of myself as a Republican, and on more than one occasion, I have despaired from the thought of casting my vote, one of the most important rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
I am not going to list the issues I have with the top of the ticket in both the Republican and Democrat Parties, we all know them too well; at this point, it is only the most die-hard of supporters who can defend either candidate, and while I cannot agree that either of these people should occupy the highest and most powerful position, in the world, I will tip my hat to those of you, who can still hold on to your faith in these individuals. Perhaps, I even envy you a bit, wishing I too had a candidate to believe in and hope with; but alas I respect neither.
Unfortunately, I know that I am not alone in my despair over the current slate of candidates. Yes, I have looked at the Libertarians and the Green Party, neither of which has brought me any great comfort; and no I do not subscribe to the notion that a vote for a “third” party is throwing the election to one of the major parties. Our Constitution does not dictate that there should only be two parties; I just find myself wishing that one of the “third” parties was something akin to the Bull Moose Party.
One of the things which most saddens me is that for so many, the vitriol of this election has not stirred in us a desire to vote for someone, but rather a determination to vote against an individual or group. It seems we are now using the election process to punish people we do not like or people who we feel have somehow failed us.
Instead of deciding that we do not like, for example how the national leadership of the Republican Party has conducted themselves, thus choosing to get involved and bring about change, we have instead chosen to “punish” them with a candidate considered outside of the political mainstream, completely unreliable, and shameful in his personal conduct – ah yes, that will show them! Needless to say, I have my doubts. Why would we want someone other than a pilot to fly the plane we are in, or someone other than a surgeon to operate on us? I fail to see the appeal of an individual who has repeatedly demonstrated his lack of understanding for the basic principles, laws, treaties, and procedures by which our nation is governed; and no I am not impressed by the notion that he will “hire” the right people to do his job.
On the other side, of the isle, it appears the exact opposite motivation is leading the charge. It is time to reward a team player, for supporting the Democrat Party through thick and thin; regardless of her actions, record or conduct. I am sure I am not the only feminist thinking that there are so many other women, women who did not gain a position of power, on their husbands coattails, but rather through their own accomplishments, integrity, and hard work, who would have been a much more honorable custodian of the legacy of Abigail Adams, Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Elisabeth Cady Stanton, and the thousands upon thousands of women who through perseverance, exhaustive efforts, costly sacrifice, and deep commitment have proven that we have a right to not only set the table, but sit at the table.
As the first of November approached, I began to jot down ideas and sentiments weighing on me, for this column. I knew I was not going to be able to write a piece about keeping a stiff upper lip, or one assuring you that the gossip columnists, conspiracy theorists, and hackers were not to be trusted, or that regardless of what their detractors might say, neither of the top candidates are strictly in this for the power and privilege of the Office, they of course love America, or even say to you that our nation was founded on the unwavering principal of a peaceful transition of power, and thus regardless of the outcome all would eventually be well – so then what?
Well, the what came to me as I read a comment, on social media, too heartbreaking to reprint, which suddenly made very clear to me, what I believe we must all remember this November 8, even if all of those in “power” have forgotten, this is still our country, we still have a voice, and there is at least one way left to be heard, and that is through the vote we will cast, whether our “candidate” wins or loses, the power we possess is in the making of the choice, not the end results.
I cannot nor do I want to control who will be the next occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; in our representative democracy that is not a power entrusted to one person or even one group, be it the media, the wealthy, the poor, the white, the black, the women, the men, the judiciary, the military, the church, the intellectuals, or even the celebrities. It is our birthright and our responsibility to be engaged in who governs us; and perhaps this year’s slate of candidates is a direct result of a general electorate that has become complacent and self-involved.
Many years ago, I remember listening to a mother, who having her children’s best intention in mind, was removing them from the public school system, to be home schooled. I listened to all of her perfectly fine reasons, for wanting to be in control of her children’s education; but remember asking her what will happen to the children left in the public school?
What happens when the parents who have the luxury or conviction, or are able to make the sacrifice to be room parents or chaperons or volunteers pull all of their children out of the public schools, who will fill in the great vacancy left behind? Who will sit and listen to a child read, when the teacher cannot, or bring in treats for the class, helping to celebrate a special occasion? What about the example those parents were setting, that one should care about your community not just your family? How does the PTA go forward without parent involvement? Book fairs, field trips, and fixing up the playground are activities, which often are not budgeted for, especially with infrastructure failures, which must be addressed, how will those things be done? There were of course no answers.
We have become a nation too self-involved; if you question this, just look at the candidates running for the Presidency. While I can think of many people in both the Democrat and Republican Party who I believe would have served their party and our nation better and created less rancor, let me go no further than the two men nominated for the Vice-Presidency; neither would have been my top choice, but both would be better than the top of their ticket.
I wrote a few checks, I bought campaign merchandise, I went to many political rallies, I posted on social media, I chatted with friends, neighbors, and strangers, I wore pins and buttons, I even spoke with more than half a dozen candidates, from Governors to Senators to business women; but I held back.
I kept waiting for the dust to settle, but it never did. Instead as November approaches, and I get ready to cast my vote, I feel like I am living in a nuclear winter, encased in toxic dirt, and I cannot help but ask: How much of this am I to blame for?
What could I have done to ensure a descent slate of candidates for us to choose from? I should have done more to rally my former fellow Republicans and to encourage my friendly Democrats to get involved to jointly demand candidates that we could be proud of and not have to apologize for or invent excuses for or say well we have no other choice. America is better than the people we are being asked to pick from in this national election, and we have better and more capable people on both sides of the aisles than the choices we have been given in 2016.
As Election Day draws near, I can honestly say that I have no idea for whom I will be voting; but not only is it my privilege it is also my duty and thus I will cast a vote and I urge you to do the same. But, I also ask you to join me in committing to working together to make this the last election where we are voting against someone instead of for someone.
Our heritage, as Americans, is rich and powerful; we come from a long line of citizen activist who believe that we should work together to protect individual rights and create a community which benefits us all, we need to get reengaged and never let another 2016 happen.
Let us vote; and then wake up on the 9th of November and begin to work toward uniting our nation. That is all for now.