We are in the middle of an election cycle. In 2016, we will select who will become the next President. We will also be selecting members of the Senate and House. We will also be defining states governors and legislatures. To me is that we are also looking at a defining moment in our history.
It is true that can be said for many elections. But, this one seems to be a lot different than past elections I have witnessed. We are really looking at what the Unite States of America will be for the next generation. You may not consider that to be a fact since a “bad” president can be voted out of office in four years.
But, as we have seen in the past, one election can result in either positives or negatives that last a generation. The good things that can happen, and the really bad things that can happen will linger in our society for long times.
It has often been said that elections are a choice between the lesser of two evils. Some will argue that is no truer than right now. On the GOP side we are looking at Donald Trump being the nominee. On the Democrat side we are looking at Hillary Clinton. Bernie Sanders does have an outside chance to still upset the apple-cart, but I wouldn’t count on it.
This election also points out the polarization of our politics. There was a time when candidates debated the issues and laid out their plans to make the issues better for everyone. Today we hear very little about the issues. Instead, we hear about personal attacks, who is to blame for any ills you may be suffering, or who is or isn’t a conservative or progressive.
I am heading into this election with some serious doubts about each of the presumptive candidates. I believe Hillary Clinton would be a much better choice for us than Donald Trump, or any of the seventeen candidates the GOP put forth this year. Still, there are aspects of Clinton I am not that crazy about. I often wish the Democrats had a candidate that was a cross of Hillary and Bernie.
Even more importantly, I am more worried about state and local elections than the national tickets. It is at the state and local levels where I believe we have lost our compass references. It is at the state and local levels where anti-just-about-everything laws are being passed. These laws are usually framed as “religious liberty” which is an oxymoron phrase at best.
To put it into the context of “religious liberty” one could argue that the moral compass these laws are supposedly trying to advance is what has been lost the most. Furthermore, it is at the state and local levels where “overreach” is really taking place. Conservatives constantly complain that the Federal Government is guilty of “overreach” in regards to state’s rights. Yet, it is the states that are actually overreaching when they pass laws that deny local communities the right to “govern” themselves.
Republicans are suffering through a real problem since Trump became the presumptive nominee. There are even members of the GOP who are talking about a third-party nomination. That would cause a split in the party that may never heal.
The other problem we face is the fight over ideology. Ted Cruz is the standard-bearer for this ridiculous claim. According to him and his followers, ideology is the only thing that matters. Actually governing takes second place to ideology. History has shown us many times over that when ideology is the only driving force, totalitarianism is the usual outcome.
Ideology needs to be tempered with pragmatism. If not, ideology runs amuck and nothing gets done. Just look at the last eight years. Conservative ideology has endangered our democracy by insisting that their ideology is to be followed or nothing gets passed.
I listen to all of the bullshit being said about the millennial generation and all I hear is the same bullshit that was said about my generation back in the 1960s. Just like the old “hippie” generation, today’s generation are rebelling against what they see as problems. Yet, they are demonized as lazy, stupid, and uncaring. Of course that is the real bullshit being put out, especially by people like the self-proclaimed prophet Bill O’Reilly.
We have seen all of this before. We have seen candidates who only shout hate and bigotry run for office. We have even seen some of them win. We have seen totalitarianism advocates voice their opinions in public before. During the 1930s Hitler was a hero to many Americans.
In the past we have been able to overcome these tendencies. I hate to predict if we will continue that trend. The political labels that are commonly put on candidates are ridiculous to me. What is a conservative? What is a progressive? The definitions are as fluid as the generations that embrace those terms.
To many, conservatism is a longing for the “good ole days” which in reality weren’t all that good. To many progressive means “socialist” which isn’t entirely true either. Today we have plenty of conservatives and plenty of progressives. What we seem to be lacking is candidates, regardless of what label they wish to wear, with pragmatic views of what problems we actually face and pragmatic solutions that will help us overcome them.
Howling at the moon is good for the soul, sometimes. However, howling at the moon is not a good political move. At least not to me. Unfortunately, we are hearing more candidates howling at the moon and not giving any solutions. That is a recipe for ideology to win out and totalitarian to take hold in our country.
Some people seem gleeful over the idea that the Republican Party is in such turmoil. I am not. I am not a Republican hater. I am a hater of everything that today’s Republican Party’s platform that their candidates are running on. This platform is around because the party let the ideologues take over the party. We saw the Democrats go through the same problems a few decades ago.
In order for democracy to work, we need opposing views. We need opposing ideas. We need honest and open debate about how to make things better for everyone. We cannot allow our elections to turn into propaganda events where there is blame for problems and no solutions only ideology.
When pragmatism, common sense, and intelligent thought are replaced with ideology, hate, and bigotry we end up in the situation we face today. Candidates who are not really giving us much choice between the better “ideas”. I do believe that the Democrats have tried much harder than the Republicans so far. But with a general election featuring Donald Trump, I don’t see that continuing for long.
So, I believe we are at a defining moment in our history. What kind of country we become will be decided in November. More so at the state and local levels than the national level. That is why it is so important that we all vote in November at all levels of government.
I don’t care what party a candidate belongs to, if that candidate runs their campaign on hate and bigotry and/or “religious liberty” I plan to vote against them. I don’t want ideology to take a bigger hold on our society. I want elected officials who have the common good at heart. And, that common good must include everyone.
Sometimes in my dreams I see my grandchildren growing up in a country free of hate and bigotry. Then I wake up and hear politician start talking and I know it is just a dream. But, wouldn’t that really be nice if could come true?
I refuse to predict that we will emerge from this moment in history unscathed. Because if the haters and bigots continue to win, I fear the worst. If on the other hand, they are defeated in November, than there may be hope for us yet.
Come November, “We The People” will decide if we are going to keep shouting at and hating each other, or if we are going to really become that “shining city on the hill” that everyone else wants to be like. The “shining city” where everyone is treated equally and not hated just because they are different, poor, or just a “working slob”. A city where the common good is far more important than ideology, hatred, and bigotry. The shining city where educating our children is more important than the bottom line.
Here’s hoping we choose the latter choice. If not, the “shirts” will keep marching along.