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Vote, America!

by Francine Y. Dash
November 2022

Originally published November 2020

It’s incredible to see all that is going on in our country.  It’s even more incredible to see the two major political parties’ very different views of what’s going on in our country.  With their views being so divergent, it makes me wonder how they will be able to work together in Congress, or in concert downstream, in our state and in our local governments.

There’s no doubt, partisan politics has turned our representative democracy upside down, where we, as voters, are begging the people we hired to listen to us. Add in the celebrity factor that is now so pervasive in modern-day politics, it’s like our politicians are rock stars and we are just hoping that they will look in our direction.

Look at what we have become? 
We are buying their merchandise with our unemployment checks.  We crowd the streets and stadiums to show our support for them or against them -- even during a pandemic!  We wear their t-shirts and their hats with some sort of pride, like they are a part of our actual families.  We’ve even gotten into fights over them and lost friends over them -- some of us are already dreading Thanksgiving. 

Then, every other person on social media is some sort of partisan hack or informal campaign manager, celebrating virtual victories when they succeed in shaming those who disagree with them or their party.   Partisan politics has robbed us of our civility and sense of who are as a community of citizens.

That’s the hard thing about partisan politics:  it places voters in this divided space, holding out hope that at some point, they, the politicians, will get their acts together and address the common problems that are plaguing our society. We look to them to inspire us to be a better version of ourselves, as individual citizens of a great nation; and we hope, at the end of the day, that some sort of balance is struck among them that will keep us all and this great nation moving forward.

But, instead of moving forward, there appears to be an all out partisan war taking place; and we are the casualties.  

Some are finding themselves facing evictions from their homes, as they struggle to make less money go farther.  Parents are making tough decisions, as they try to figure out daycare and education options for their children and keep their essential jobs.  

Wild fires blaze in increasing numbers all across our western states, giving the United States some of the worst air quality readings in the world. Not to mention, water quality is still in question in many places across the United States, like Flint, Michigan.  

Police are being shot by civilians, and civilians are protesting Black people being killed by police. This cycle of division and destruction all seems too much to fathom.  Then we have to consider that more people have died from the coronavirus than the 2,977 people who died horribly during 9/11; yet the recognition of approaching 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19, in America alone, has been trivialized to the point that more people each day are putting themselves and others at risk.  

Meanwhile, politicians have dug in and are launching disparaging tweets faster than I can type this article.  Thousands of messages of misinformation and attacks are taking their toll on the common threads that bind us.  Attacks from the blue on the red and the red on the blue are quite literally, tearing us apart and forcing us to choose sides in a nasty war over what’s left of the American dream.  

There is no future gain in continuing to repeat this cycle, for the electorate; nor for our democracy.  Especially now, when everything we have believed in, thus far, is being tested.  Everything from “everyone being equal under the law” to the concept of “blind justice” has fallen into question.  Americans, we the people, don’t even talk like that anymore.  

We have to start demanding what is best for our country long term; and we need to vote people into office who get that.  We need people in office touting how great we are as a diverse country of citizens who all belong, regardless of our start; and we need to do more to lift up our indigenous people and those hurt by generational poverty and slavery. 

We need to hire/vote for people who understand the weight of their respective offices and while humbled by it, recognize that they are there to work toward reinforcing our unique democracy by repairing the damage of a divided past and providing hope for a united future. 

But, it all starts with voters 
Do we take this divisive historical season and widen the chasm with our individual notions of right and wrong and our own interpretations of our religious texts and the American constitution, as we stare down other Americans who do not share our interpretations; or do we do something that we’ve done before, seek common ground for healing, for restoration, for a coming together of ideals and principles, no matter how scary, all in an effort to form a more perfect union?  

America was never meant to be great.  It wasn’t meant to be a world power.  It wasn’t meant to be this large diverse democratic nation.  It wasn’t meant to be anything, really.  It was meant to be exploited and mined for riches for other nations.  But, when colonial America decided that it was ready to stand up and be its own nation, it began the process we are still in today, as we continue to discover better ways to govern and live our lives, together.  

Even during those colonial times, the people of the time were divided on many issues like creating a government that could check itself, abolishing slavery, voting rights for freed slaves and women and the electoral college; but they were united on the fact that preserving “the good” that had been created up to that point was paramount.

And here we are standing in a new crossroad, staring down old issues, trying to decide which way leads us closer to that perfect union.   
Yes, it’s incredible to see all that is going on in our country, all of the division, all of the politics; and with a national election soon approaching, it may only become more divided.  But this is not the end of a great nation. This instead is an opportunity to show ourselves and the world how great we really are. 

So, let’s rally, America!
A democracy requires an engaged electorate to hold those voted into office accountable and remind them why they are there ‐ leaving no room for empty political promises!

Voting on election day is a first step.  Post election, it is vital to continue to engage elected officials in your own communities, coming together with neighbors to support the changes and traditions that make us all better and make what we hope for possible.

VOTE, America!