For the past month or so, Americans have exercised their constitutional right to vote by casting a ballot to determine what kind of country Americans want to live in and who should govern it. Election Day will come and go, but whatever the outcome of the U.S. elections, it is sure to be hotly contested to justify the results. I am not sure when our country decided to turn our democracy into a football game, but America needs to win, not a single party.
There is no shortage of problems that Americans look to our elected leaders to solve. Most have been on political dockets for decades – such as global warming, racial respect and justice for minority citizens, livable wages to allow millions of Americans to live above the poverty line, and health insurance that does not require some families to choose between filling their prescription or buying food. The latest entry thrust to the top of the list is COVID-19. Over 230k Americans have died from this disease, and based on projections from several leading scientists, this number could reach 400k by the end of 2020.
The outcome of the election will not magically fix any of these problems. Still, two factors – wealth and race – will generally determine how Americans deal with the election outcome and the growing list of complex issues. For wealth affords you an independency and resources necessary to withstand most political outcomes. Race can impact how we view situations regardless of how much money or influence one may have. Naturally, other factors can be added to the mix, such as political affiliation, education, geographic location, and religion. These considerations further divide us as a country, but they do not have to.
Divergent views are the supposition that we as Americans once celebrated, but now, those contrasting views have made us vilify each other. We must remember in the days that follow the election that all of us have a hand in what we choose to do when the election results are finally tallied.
My hope is we as Americans chart a new course, regardless of the outcome of the election, by saying no to transactional elitism and become advocates of civility with no tolerance for anything that gets in the way of common decency and respect for human life. I hope we hold all elective officials accountable for their actions, stop blindly endorsing policies that extend poverty, expand the racial divide, and ignite a sense of hopelessness that draws some to violence or substance abuse to cope. I hope that we restore laughter that doesn’t come at the expense of another side.
An American author, George Santayana, famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” The litany of terror and trauma we have endured will not instantly go away after the election but knowing that we can make a difference in someone else’s life is sure to lessen anxiety and expand our sense of hope, regardless of who or what we supported. Remember, we may not control how the votes are tallied, but we can control how we respond and treat one another once the election is over. I believe a win for America will depend not on the election results, but on how we treat one another once it is over. I genuinely hope we, as Americans, have all learned a lot over the last four years. Our actions will prevent us from causing new traumas in the coming years.