Since launching this blog, I have sat down to a blank white page on or around my birthday and tried to encapsulate some knowledge I have learned in the last year. I was originally going to attempt a piece on self-love and rising above your own expectations, but then the world changed. As many of you know, my birthday is November 8th and this year it took place on Election Day. If you've hung around me for any length of time, you also know that I am a proud Democrat. Last night was tough for me and for those who believe as I do. With this in mind, I scrapped my original post and decided to use last night's results as my focus.
"We often put too much faith in presidents and angels, but too little in each other."
After the 2012 Presidental Election, I was struck with this thought and it has stayed with me for four years now. As I watched state after state turn red last night, the thought became even more real for me. When I came to the conclusion that President-Elect Trump would be our Commander-in-Chief, I felt compelled to spread the message as far and as wide as possible.
The election of 2016 will be dissected and studied by political science nerds, such as myself, for years to come, but there was an overarching lesson to be learned; America is at its best when the rising tide lifts as many boats as possible. I will look back at the presidency of Barack Obama with fondness. In my estimation, his eight years in office will be remembered as a great social experiment to create a more just and equitable society. If you are a member of a community that has long been disenfranchised, this president was your champion. LGBT, racial/religious minority, women, disabled, etc., this president worked on your behalf, but this new society was not reached by Obama alone. For countless decades, and for some groups centuries, advocates have worked to improve the lives of their fellow man. President Obama was awarded the luxury of seeing the culmination of those battles, but he was not the fire starter. It was our fellow citizens, recognizing "our better angels," who fought to make these changes a reality. They put faith in their fellow man and went to work. They didn't wait for a president to change things. They didn't pray or leave it to chance. They rolled up their sleeves and went about the work of reshaping and perfecting our union.
As this process unfolded and intensified over the last eight years, something else occurred. The middle class shrank, poverty rose, and wages stalled. Millions of Americans, particularly White Americans, were not seeing their ship rise. In their anger and distrust with government, they threw a stone through the glass window of Washington D.C. and demanded attention. Now, they have our attention. Now, it is time to roll-up our sleeves to ensure the rising tides of American society is lifting as many boats as possible. While I wholeheartedly disagree with their choice to occupy the White House for the next four years, I understand their frustration. I understand their feelings with a sense of purpose, though. I have always been involved in my community. I attend rallies, protest, sign petitions, write my representatives, volunteer, and work for a nonprofit. I get up every day knowing society is reshaped by those who are engaged. I also rise knowing faith in presidents and angels will only get you so far. Belief in your fellow Americans, all your fellow Americans without rigid reactions to faith, sex, orientation, and/or ability, will create the America we deserve.
So, after 33 years of living on this planet and multiple elections, I implore you to visit with your neighbors, engage in dialogue, reach out to someone with whom you disagree, and quit waiting for answers to come from above. If there is any truth to the ideal of America, it is this; we are at our best when we take the lead.
Be good to each other,