Today is voting day for the general election. If that is news to you, then I'd like to welcome you back to Earth as you have obviously been vacationing on a planet far, far away where political attack ads, heated rhetoric, Twitter, and the US vs THEM mentality cannot reach.
I have written only sporadically about the devolving political discourse in this country in the run up to these elections. So much of what has taken place simply makes me angry, and that is pretty much the sum total of what I would have contributed to this space. You know my politics. You know the highly personal nature of why I support one party over the other. You know I believe in the better angels of our nature.
But as we are again being handed the privilege of making our voices heard via the democratic process, I find there is something I want to say.
Despite appearances to the contrary, despite the slanted ads, Trump's late night Twitter rants, rallies devolving into middle school hallway level attacks, despite corporations dumping million after million into a process in which they have no BUSINESS being, and despite candidates up and down the ballot losing sight of WE THE PEOPLE in their lust to suckle at the power teat - YOU STILL MATTER.
I honestly don't care what your politics are. If they are informed by facts. That is my one small caveat. If you are not informed, if you cling to ignorance instead of diving into research, if your politics are fueled by hatred of "the other", if you base your vote on who a talking head told you to vote for - then I do care.
Like The Lorax, I care a whole awful lot.
I have news for people everywhere. Anger, fear, frustration - those are not emotions which are owned by a single political party or ideology. They are the domain of the human being.
Our economy is still recovering. People are still out of work. Our world is a scary, uncertain place. People are hungry, homeless, frightened, fed up, and looking for a target at which to aim their impotent rage.
If you bag your tea, LOVE the Cheetoh, or ride your elephant, don't go into the voting booth thinking even for one second that voting straight down the Republican line will suddenly find us waking up to some Utopian fantasy called Mayberry where Aunt Bee doled out pie and folksy proverbs in equal measure, and those folks knew their place. And if you still have hope for change, advocate for those targeted, or ride a donkey, don't think that the sun will suddenly shine brighter and that the racists, cowards, phobes, and irrational dullards will suddenly vaporize if the Democrats prevail.
The hatred and irrationality do today, more than ever, present as partisan, but the problems facing this nation are not, and neither are the answers to them. I realize we are a country with a Jersey Shore-Kardashian mentality - where we love our braggadocio, and think everything can be faced down with muscle, heated words, and a half naked Instagram post.
A President Clinton will be no more a magician IN the Oval Office, than would be Trump and his Twitter feed OUT of the Oval Office. Although stability is a much surer bet with the former than the latter in the Oval.
We are a country which worships the magic bullet. We like the easy road. Effort? Not so much. Sorry, but that's a sad truth. The main things we produce these days are bad TV and consumption.
We don't like sacrifice. And our politicians know that, which is why they all campaign on not asking you and I for any. They promise - oh how they promise - everything for nothing. Lower taxes! Immediate security! A bigly wall! All not happening, believe me.
Because at the end of the day, they tend to forget that we are out here. Hurting, struggling, yearning, fretting. WE THE PEOPLE who cannot dump millions into their pockets as lobbyists. WE THE PEOPLE who desperately wish our leaders would stop acting like pissy toddlers in a sandbox and realize we are out here. WE THE PEOPLE who know we are not helped by hatred, but somehow get caught up in the lie about the other side anyway.
We still matter.
But we have all allowed our democratic process to be co-opted by shadowy figures, who-can-shout-the-loudest-and-make-you-fear-the-most TV and radio hosts, and businesses who can warp an election because they ARE a business, not a person. And a business is not worried about feeding the kids at night or putting warm clothes on their backs. A business is only worried about a bottom line and the best way to go about increasing it.
Which is why they pump millions into the process, without even having to disclose their contributions, thus pushing WE THE PEOPLE further out of the process.
Walmart Jones is not running for office. Xerox Smith is not running for office. Borden Johnson is not running for office. Target Owens is not running for office. Koch Industries Peterson is not running for office. Yet there they are, in line to be heard ahead of the PEOPLE in this country. In line to gain by buying the process.
Today is our chance to remind our leaders, and those who wish to be our leaders, that we are better than what our election seasons portray us; that decency still outweighs deplorability; that every citizen deserves equality, protections, possibilities; that this country will not be turned into some Aryan Nation fantasy; that WE STILL MATTER.
We the people, who still believe in a more perfect union. FOR EVERYONE.