Dear America

I know that our country is in trouble and that many of you are exhausted and super angry about how things are going down. I know how many problems we have and that everything from jobs to race relations have stalled in the last few years. It leaves many of us divided, frustrated, and looking for new possibilities and directions. I know our system is broken and skewed, and I know that if you have made up your mind, I won’t change it by anything I write, do, or say. That is not the point of this post. This one is for those who are willing to read with empathy and reason. Those who understand that I’m not another voice telling you what to do, but one that is begging you to listen….to everyone.

This election is beyond anything our country has seen in my lifetime – and probably yours too. Never in our lives have we seen two candidates that are so despised and so polarizing. So this isn’t about them – it’s about us. We the people have been failed by our leaders and our representatives. It has led to a deep distrust and a profound level of frustration in our society. Those we put in power have grown drunk on it and have forgotten the thousands of people they are supposed to be taking care of. These stubborn politicians would rather face off with each other than work together. They would rather shout over each other than listen and would rather separate entirely than be whole. They have torn our country apart and would rather our government come to a standstill than keep it together. We’ve  watched our senate, our house, our justice department, and our Supreme Court behave like children and activists instead of being the advocates they are supposed to be for the greater good of our nation. Our budgets have been wasted on appeals and laws that will never come to fruition while our vets and our needy are ignored. Our politicians get paid whether they do their jobs or not, and it doesn’t matter to them if your life is utterly changed by their inaction or not. Our empire has crumbled and the glory days are done.

I see your anger. I feel it immensely. We as a society have fallen apart just as our government has. We’re divided into polarizing factions and no one trusts each other anymore. We’ve reached a point where the phrase Black Lives Matter is met with resistance and anger instead of agreement. We’re living in a world where a Blue Lives Matter march will stand on a place where a person was just killed and gloat over his death. We have churches that picket funerals with signs that say they deserved to die. Women who take chances are often brutalized for them, and men who show sensitivity are bullied and considered weak. Muslims are feared, black people are murdered, and our nation ignores its indigenous people who are fighting for clean water. Our communities are segregated, our children are confused and entitled, our humanity has dwindled and our empathy is gone. We are divided and there is no liberty or justice for any of us anymore. We mirror our leaders which have taught us to be unyielding and stubborn and we have learned to ignore our duties, and demand the better future we all think we’re entitled to, even as we condemn others for being lazy, taking our jobs or not working, and looking for handouts or special treatment.

We are entitled to nothing. We put these ineffectual and morally ambiguous people into office and we kept them there. The broken system is frustrating now but we did this to ourselves and it’s time to take responsibility for it and effect change. We must demand that our leaders be better…but first we have to be better ourselves.

Tomorrow is about that change for a lot of people. However, in theory we are trying to change and improve our entire nation – not just our own lot in life. This means that each of us must look around and see each other. We must listen to each other and not our televisions. We must help each other rise, and stop the downfall of our nation. We need to force our leaders to hear us, and our representatives to remember who put them where they are and who they should be beholden to, instead of special interests, money, and each other.

For many of you, that means voting for someone who has never held office and who is not part of the political system in any way. It means voting for someone who has not let you down already. I hear you. I understand that a drastic paradigm shift is needed and that you are done with politics as usual. For others of you, it means that a woman in the highest office of our land might be different enough. She may be a life-long politician but her ties to other countries and long political career may be beneficial for the America you believe in. I hear that too. I understand it, being a woman myself who was always told but never shown that I could be whoever I wanted to be, even the President.

If you believe the news, never the twain shall meet. Trump supporters will go on a rampage of resistance if Hillary Clinton is elected. Clinton’s supporters will round up all the “haters,” take all the guns, and leave everyone else behind if she wins. It doesn’t matter how unlikely those scenarios are, we will manifest that kind of future if we don’t start helping each other break the cycles.

This means that we actually have to research our own candidates wherever we are, instead of just voting by party lines, commercials, summaries or appearance. We must do more than talk when it comes to 3rd or 4th party options…and not just during an election when it is already too late. We must hold our representatives accountable and if they don’t go to work to better our lives, we must remove them. And we must change our definition of “our”.

“Our” doesn’t mean “mine” or “others like me.” It doesn’t mean my religion, race, gender or creed is better than yours. It doesn’t mean that my job is less important than yours no matter what position that may be. “Our” means us. It means everyone who makes up our country, no matter what faith, color, or preference. It means that not only do we need to see each other, but we need to help one another. We must accept the differences, see our own privileges and use them to better our society as a whole, not just our little piece of it. We must look at the principles of our founding fathers and what our Declaration and our Constitution actually say – not as it applies to us individually, but as it applies to us all.

Like it or not, we are a diverse country. We can’t stop that or send everyone back to their own lands – because we are a nation founded by immigrants and every one of our families came from somewhere else – not that long ago I might add. If you’re voting for someone who claims to be able to change that, you should take another look at those documents I mentioned above and delve into your family tree. Your family members, friends and neighbors may have children who still believe that they could do anything they wanted. They may be gay. They may think differently than you and to teach them that their opinions do not matter, that they are lesser people, or that they can’t have different opinions is a disservice to them, and to our country…and if you wouldn’t do that to the people you know, you shouldn’t do that to those you don’t either.

There is more to this election than who our next figurehead will be. We are on a true precipice of change. Whoever is voted into office may be able to appoint Supreme court judges, (if the rest of the politicians actually do their jobs) and they may be able to shape more than 4 or 8 years of the future. That scares a lot of people – but let’s be clear. Hillary Clinton is a conservative war-hawk who is more to the right than the left and if Democrat wasn’t in front of her name, no one would ever believe it. Donald Trump is a celebrity business man who claims to be further to the right and is promising to write discrimination into law. He is running on a Nationalist Brexit-like platform – and most of those who voted for Brexit now have buyers’ remorse and wish they had not. Gary Johnson has given up on Earth and wants to explore other planets because he thinks this one is doomed and not worth saving. Jill Stein is just as bad as the rest and trying to hide it behind her hippy exterior but she still makes her money on war and weapons, whether she’d put flowers in them for a photo op or not.

These are our choices and all of them suck but we created this appalling cycle. If we don’t stop hating and fearing each other, if we don’t expand our horizons, and if we don’t start caring about one another and showing empathy, we are headed for another civil war and sectarian violence like we’ve never seen here. I love the north of Ireland, but I don’t want our country to follow in its troubled footsteps and neither should you. Keep that in mind when you head into the booths tomorrow, and instead of choosing the one who’s most right for you, choose the one who’s most right for the kids you know, and the people that you don’t. It is our responsibility to choose according to our country’s needs and not our own. Think of your gay friends, daughters, sons and granddaughter’s smiles and vote for someone who would make sure they have the right to a job and a better life. Think of the orphaned kids you’ll never meet because a stressed out cop couldn’t tell his tazer from a gun and that lovely, hard-working immigrant family your kids go to school with before you check a box. Think of that exotically gorgeous mosque you drive by and all those who are worshiping and praying to their god like you do every Sunday but whose lives and rights could be changed by your mark on a ballot. Don’t vote based on bullshit ideology, fear, dogma, or because your media pundit or preacher told you to – vote for someone you can morally defend and believe in.If there isn’t a candidate you can do that with – leave your ballot blank. Write yourself or your favorite person in. Then vote all the way down the ballot so that our choices improve later. Don’t accept lowest common denominator campaigns and “the lesser evil” because you’re afraid, lazy, or told to. It’s time to take responsibility for our votes, to own the complacency that led us here to begin with, and to stand up for our country’s future before that future becomes obsolete.

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