Where Do We Go From Here? Onward and Upward.
This past week, America elected a new president, Donald J. Trump. I’m going to be very disciplined to not make this post about Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Progressive, White or Black, Man or Woman. As our country readies for the transition of leadership, our democracy is in action. I want to focus our attention on where we go from here. Onward and Upward.
Wake Up. Rise Up. Make Up.
Every four years, we have an opportunity to elect a leader who will serve Americans at the highest level and arguably lead the world. By casting our votes, we place a bet on the candidate who will effectively lead, influence and govern on issues that matter most to Americans. When the leader is chosen, we can react in a variety of ways. We can voice our displeasure and decide that we will reject every policy he and his administration put forth. Or, we can wildly and recklessly accept policies in the name of partisan loyalty. I ask that we do neither. Instead, I ask that we do these three things:
- Wake Up. In this most recent election, we had fewer Americans to vote. Some reports indicate this was the lowest voter turnout in 20 years. Of those of us who did, many were pulled by the nose with every fallacious story covered on major media networks, social media, and partisan outlets. Why? Because we are not taking enough time to study the issues for ourselves. Many Americans accepted the role of sheep willing to be led around by others who may have the loudest or most convincing voice. We have to take the time to study the issues for ourselves. We are a rhetoric-based, sound bite culture. We have to do our own homework. Study facts not innuendo. We must become “woke” to the issues that affect not only us personally, but that affect our fellow Americans. We are one and we are only as strong as the weakest among us. Therefore, first and foremost, my fellow Americans, let us wake up.
- Rise Up. Arise from sleeping. Our nation and world needs us to lead on important issues. We have so much work to do to form a more perfect union. We have big problems to solve together and open questions to answer. For example, what will we do to help middle class, working families – the cornerstone of our American economy? What will it take to accelerate job growth and guarantee livable wages for every American? How will we address a growing immigrant population, address the fears of DREAMers and undocumented immigrants who have only known America as home and many of whom have contributed greatly to our country, working and paying their fair share of taxes to support systems and programs? Isn’t it time we finally live out our creed that all people are created equal? When will we honor women as equals in our society? Make equal pay for equal work the law of the land. What must be done to ensure equality in our criminal justice system? What will we do to keep the surety of second amendment rights and pass and enforce sensible gun control legislation? Both. How do we improve access, equity and equality in education from pre-school through college? What school and work reforms are we willing to invest in so that we skill the American workforce for the modern economy? How will we continue to ensure every American has access to healthcare? What must be done to give assurance to retirees that social security and medicare will be there after they’ve contributed all of their working years? How do we take better care of our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms and protection? These and many more are the issues important to Americans. They won’t be solved by a fraction of the populous. They won’t be solved by Republicans or Democrats alone. We must all rise up and participate in this great work of democracy.
- Make up. Our country is divided. Donald Trump won the electoral college vote. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. We have all spent this week celebrating or denouncing the outcome of the election. We have unfriended people on our social sites. We have seen citizens in the streets protesting. And, of those same protests, the other side claims protesters are paid agents – somehow it’s not real; it’s not that bad. The reality is America is hurting, even those whose candidate won and especially those whose candidate didn’t. Yet, we are still The United States of America. Our democracy is still to be cherished. We can make America Greater and we are Stronger Together. We will accomplish that by humbling ourselves to listen to the hurt of fellow Americans. We will start to heal by moving toward one another instead of entrenching in our partisanship. It’s not our job to prove the “other side” wrong. It’s finding common ground to build upon. The problems we face are all of ours. It will take all of us to solve them. Let us make up after this dirty fight and get to work on the important issues of our lifetime. The generations after us need us to get busy.
Democracy is a Verb.
A week after the astonishing election, we are asking: where do we go from here? I say, we go Onward and Upward. We are a nation of resilient people. We are up for the task. We are patriots. Whether we kneel during the National Anthem to display our frustrations or place our hands over our hearts to acknowledge our love and hope in this country – we are all saying the same thing. We are a great nation, and to whom much is given much is required. We expect more of ourselves. Democracy is much more than a noun. It is a verb. It requires our action. We must wake up, rise up, and make up. Onward and Upward.