This is my one and only political post. It’s more about talking dogs, really.
I read the Mike Rowe story focusing on voters, and not encouraging blind voting based upon flippant celebrity endorsements. I’ve read that and a hundred other stories on how we got ourselves into this hot mess to begin with. #nevertrump and #neverhillary. Who is left? A 40-year old write-in candidate? Gary freaking Johnson?
I dunno. I kinda like celebrities pretending they know something about NATO and China’s economy. After all, they are actors. They can pretend. But aren’t they also Americans, who actually might care?
So maybe voters (or voter fraud, who knows) put us into this mess to begin with regarding two very unpopular presidential candidates. And while I understand Rowe’s point, that we should all be educated and take our role as voting citizens seriously, do we dare take it to its logical conclusion, that the uneducated populous should refrain from voting because it’s somehow irresponsible? After all, it’s a right not a duty, and who wants to be irresponsible when exercising a right? Would we want mental health patients firing weapons? Do we want people who believe their dog can speak voting for president? If voters don’t read books on economic theory, are they even qualified to vote?
I think the answer is simple. Yes. A resounding yes. Even people who believe the world is flat and believe the moon landing was a contrived government conspiracy. Even they should vote. Because it’s part of who we all are as American citizens. We are privileged to have this right. Even people who eat nothing but cheese and pickles have a voice in who leads us, even if the majority of us think they are misguided.
The rights we are endowed with to assemble, protest, vote, and speak our own voice are not just an assurance that the best ideas and best candidates come forward – it’s a hope that we as a nation of citizens should have a voice in leadership, and that we can all participate in the marketplace of ideas. I would hope we value every unique person and every heart and every opinion, even if it differs from our own. Although the Constitution does not, at the present time, allow talking dogs to vote. There is always hope in the future. Amendments happen.
Rowe’s theory, while understandable, can be a slippery slope toward an age where wealthy white men of privilege, the “educated ones,” the people who are “responsible voters,” get to make decisions while the undereducated masses (minorities? the poor?) simply trust the “smarter” few to make decisions for all. Who decides who’s smarter and more responsible? What if dogs really can talk? How the heck do we really know.
In my opinion, voters have brought forth a candidate like Trump because they are living in a state of fear. Fear of terrorism, fear that they have become unheard, fear in the wealthy, fear that all the diversity and social change have somehow gone too far, and something snapped in our collective consciousness. Many people grew so angry that no one “believed in anything anymore” that they needed to take a hard-line position. They needed someone to tell them what to do. To make promises, even if they were only half-believable. To say “political correctness” is just a heaping pile of shit, which is what folks were thinking anyway. And this boldness in speech was so refreshing voters lined up to subscribe to this ideology, this anti-establishment. An authoritative populism emerged that was similar, in fact, to Hitler’s own rise to power. After all, Adolf was attacking the monopolies, wanting to make Germany great again, stressing the importance of country and loyalty, and showcasing his power of media and influence.
So yes, maybe we as a country did it to ourselves, but we need to ask why it got to this point. Why the masses felt it was so important to shift the tide. Are Trump voters all dumb sheep with no coherent thoughts? I don’t think so. I think it’s growing anger and fear that drives this train.
Sadly, addressing fear with brute force, isolation of certain groups, and marginalization will not be the fix our country. If there was only a way to put a salve on the wounds of the hearts of our citizens. To have someone who will protect, shoulder, act as a parent who does not hurt but heals. Someone who may actually listen to the heartbeat of a country who feels disenfranchised, and yet help them rise above it, love each other, and re-focus the hate into mercy, grace, and self-sacrifice.
We hunker down, and we shall live with the election results that come. We may believe this world is not our forever home, that the struggles of this life are not eternal. But the impact we have upon our fellow man on earth does linger. It creates a rip-tide of calm, like antacid in the stomach. People are bubbling over. And it’s up to us to speak for ourselves, our children, or families, our communities. We can peacefully stand up as our great brother Martin Luther King, Jr. once did, fighting for equality without rage or malice toward our fellow man. We have to remain strong and vigilant in love, fighting for what’s right and providing an outlet to so many who seek a leader.
What this means is that we refrain from harsh words. We don’t always one-up our neighbor. We get low, and serve others before ourselves. We don’t always unfriend someone for an unpopular opinion. As hard as it might be, we guide our path toward greatness as a nation with gentleness, self-control, goodness, patience, and all other fruits that are produced by good and strong trees. So invite a Trump supporter to coffee, even though the Donald makes your blood boil. Try to understand why women have such a positive reaction to Hillary being the first woman president, even though you don’t trust Clinton as far as you can throw her. Try to open your mind, be understanding, and with every single person you come in contact. Work to eliminate fear. Muzzle the harsh speech. Touch their arm, smile in their eyes. Connect, and be human, and bring them into the light of love.
One nation, under God, indivisible. That’s the only way we’ll survive this. At least that’s what the talking dogs tell me. And I, for one, believe them.