We’ve poisoned the well. This election’s political climate has left us facing a choice between two nominees that leave our political and patriotic appetites starving for more. As someone who spent the better part of two years working to find a bi-partisan solution to our $20 trillion national debt, 2016 has been quite frightening. The ideological echo chambers have propelled us into runaway polarization and the accusatory mindset evoked by both sides comes at the cost of losing what we’re all really fighting for, America.
The talking points manufactured in Washington and shipped to the masses are sold at the price division, in order to hit their quota of victory. Yet if you speak organically with the person sitting across the table, less the dogmatic rhetoric, you realize the wedge issues of each election are simply a facade, covering up the fact that there’s more that connects us than divides us. Nevertheless, we’re now left with a the choice that most of America views as picking the lesser of two evils.
Donald Trump is patently a child. He has not the temperament, experience, nor judgment to be President of the United States. His policy bonafides are non-existent. Additionally, his lack of ability to respond calmly, deliberately, and maturely under pressure is disqualifying. Hillary is undoubtedly a rendition of everything most people hate about Washington. A career politician who’s more keen to the interests of K St. than Main St. This is the reason an independent socialist with no institutional backing would have been the democratic nominee if the super-delegate count had been reversed.
The American Presidency is the most important, difficult, and rigorous job in the world. It’s also the most precious. When you take the oath of office you immediately become the most important person on the planet, bar none.
We take our Republic for granted. It’s all we’ve ever known. Figures like Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Adams seem more like distant characters in a historical fiction novel from 10th grade than the men that wove together the miracle of humankind. The dispersion of competing interests they had to navigate were not dissimilar to our current factions.
Within the last century we’ve defeated Fascism, Communism, and Imperialism. Humans have walked the Earth for 200,000 years, modern civilization has existed for 6,000 years, and less than a century ago the Nazis were in control of a majority of Europe. America is still an experiment in human history. Our place in the world is too fragile for us succumb to internal strife as we seek to prove to the world that our ideals are enduring.
We failed this election. We failed to uphold our responsibility to elect our very best in order to preserve and strengthen America. The fervor and haste with which each side ignites sharply worded character attacks is what has made this election especially unnerving. The cadence of debate and mutual respect that has served as a denominator for public discourse between parties for the past 75+ years seems to have evaporated. Our presidential candidates used to be playing on the same team vying for team captain, today they don’t even shake hands. This division is the reason we’re left holding the bag in 2016.
The Syrian refugee program is a microcosm of how the expedited political polarization degrades our national strength and stability. One side believes these people need a place of refuge. That America is the shining beacon sending a ray of light into one of the darkest corners of the world. The other side urges caution as a means to preserve that beacon, and to make sure we do not let lethal enemies onto our shores. Our intentions are paralleled in protecting the idea that is America. Yet our sunken level of discourse and heightened distrust has forced all of us to assume the opposition is fighting with malign intent. Are you guilty of assuming the worst of your counterpart on this issue?
This cannot be how America tackles the world’s most challenging issues. This cannot be how America, a country founded on compromise, approaches opposing thought. This lack of willful pragmatism cannot be codified into the moral fabric of America. The stakes are too high.
The voices that shout the loudest on television and twitter, that permeate the discussion around the dinner table, do not represent the voice of America. The voice of America is you. Reading these words possibly hundreds of miles away from where it was written yet so close to where it’s coming from. Only you have the power to reject political platitudes, elevate the conversation, seek compromise, and assume the best in America. Our upper bound is nation of Lincolns and Kennedys. On November 9th there are no more excuses.
First published on November 6, 2016