COMMENTARY: My mom, like so many others, is beyond excited this year about the opportunity to help elect the United States’ first female president. She has daughters and a granddaughter and wants them to live in a nation without a glass ceiling.
I’ve also spoken this year with Americans who have lost jobs or homes during the last eight years. I talked with two last week who are worried because their Obamacare premiums are rising and they don’t qualify for a subsidy to offset the increase. I’m among those who will be struggling next year to pay for the rising cost of health insurance.
I’ve lost count of how many millennials and independents I’ve spoken with this year who are fed up with the entire system. They don’t see it as sustainable. They want change but don’t know how to enact it. They’re worried about the future.
I’ve talked with others who have had it pretty good during the Obama presidency and want to continue on that path. They view the last eight years as progress, even if imperfect.
None of these folks are wrong. They’re just people with their own unique views and experiences.
In one of the most divisive election seasons of our time, that’s important to remember.
The election isn’t yet settled. Polling shows a tightening race in New Mexico and nationwide. Voting in New Mexico strongly favored Democrats early on, but Republicans and independents cut into that lead last week.
It seems likely that Democrat Hillary Clinton will be our next president, but Republican Donald Trump still has a chance. Regardless, after the election is over, the next president will take the reigns of a divided, angry and frightened nation. The task ahead is monumental.
Frankly, I don’t believe Trump or Clinton is prepared to unite and help us all find a way forward. Trump has done pretty much the opposite throughout the campaign by fanning the flames of division with inflammatory and hyperbolic rhetoric.
Trump seems to be aware of some of the problems that have left so many Americans out in the cold. But his proposals to address those issues lack substance, at best – and they’re impractical and outrageous at worst, like building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Clinton is less inflammatory. But as the candidate favored by the system, she has shown little awareness of the pain and problems that have so many people across the ideological spectrum on edge. The system seeks to protect itself, and it’s found the candidate it believes will do that.
Voting matters. Show up and vote your conscience. But the work doesn’t stop on Election Day. How we live our lives is just as important.
The truth is that folks aren’t “deplorables” and they aren’t “illegals.” They’re people. They’re our neighbors. They’re us. We’re all in this experiment we call the United States of America together. Short of the apocalypse, that isn’t going to change.
We must work to understand each other’s fear and pain and joy and hope. If we don’t commit to moving forward together, we’ll continue down this divided, combative path, and the fissures will grow.
The change we need isn’t going to come from the next president. As always, it must come from the ground up. It must come from us. All of us.