Sunday Morning Meditations
Okay, so it’s late morning on the Left Coast. But I have been doing a lot of meditation and searching for answers in response to the seeming disaster that befell our country on Tuesday night. And the first thing is we have to separate the fear and hyperbole of the election from the actual future.
In 2000, too many people thought “there’s no difference between either party,” and learned the grim truth that a seemingly friendly, compassionate conservative could do an about face and completely destroy our economy, lie us into a disastrous war, and attack our most basic civil rights with impunity. Since then, the narrative of every election has been “this is the most important election of our lifetime! (fill in the blank) is a threat to our nation’s future.”
Think about that. Half the country said that about Bush, McCain, Romney and Trump, while the other half said the same thing about Obama and Clinton. When I was a young man, I had confidence that our nation was strong enough to survive the horrendous policies of Reagan, and we did (in fact, by 1999, we had overcome most of the damage). I didn’t feel the same way about Bush, but if you look at most of the economic data (notwithstanding the millions of college graduates and blue collar workers that are still suffering in this economy), we have recovered from much of the effects of his disastrous eight years in office. So, we have to have belief in our country and each other that we will survive the next four years under a President Trump.
So here’s a recipe for you post-election hangover: laughter, hope and a new will to fight.
Dave Chappelle made me laugh really hard for the first time in almost a week. He spoke a lot of truth. And if a black dude can laugh and still have hope after an unprecedented election where white supremacists and anti-government militias are emboldened, why can’t I?
In the smoking ruins of the Democratic party, there are still voices of courage that can inspire us to make the country better when we can find bipartisan cooperation (infrastructure anyone?), and the balls to fight when our core Constitutional values are threatened. I give you Elizabeth Warren:
One of the biggest things this country needs to rebuild is trust. Here is a fantastic podcast on Freakonomics about the economic, social, and health benefits of building trust. I could write a few thousand words about our political history over the last 50 years, and how events have eroded our trust in political institutions, in the other party and in anyone who we don’t know personally. But it is probably a waste of time, as we already distrust each other and don’t need to retrace it origins. Instead, listen to this podcast and understand how our need to rebuild trust in each other and in the country is vital to our survival:
Trust Me - Freakonomics
Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. In the U.S. (and the U.K. and elsewhere), social…
Let’s have some faith in our Constitution, the Republicans and even the President-elect. If they succeed, we all win. If they fuck things up beyond recognition, we have to fight back and prepare to throw the bums out in 2018.
The will to fight
The biggest thing that struck me in watching the news and my social media feed was the anger, frustration, shock and despair of so many people. How can we channel this in a productive way? Elizabeth Warren said to do volunteer work for some organization that resonates with you. I agree that this is a good way to express you personal power to change the world in a small way. If you go in that direction, I hope you find meaning and some consolation in making that statement.
For me, I think we need to look at ways to reform our election system. Removing corporate and lobbyist campaign money by Overturning Citizens United is a great goal, but it doesn’t seem to be something we can achieve without a Supreme Court majority (now impossible with the new president) or a Constitutional amendment (highly unlikely given the fact that 66 of this country’s state legislative chambers are now controlled by Republicans). Also unlikely is undoing the corrupt gerrymandering in so many swing states that gives Republicans an average of 67% of each state’s Congressional caucus, in spite of getting less than 50% of all votes for the House of Representatives.
And the same thing can be said about voter suppression laws for the moment. In spite of all factual evidence to the contrary, a large number of American believe in the myth of voter fraud.
Myth of Voter Fraud
It is important to protect the integrity of our elections. But we must be careful not to undermine free and fair access…
People on the other side of the aisle are afraid of voter fraud and illegal aliens being brought to this country to vote, because they represent a subversion of the will of the people. I don’t want 100 million old school Communists entering this country and over throwing our system, do you?
So in the end, aren’t Conservatives really just saying that they want our democracy to work? Don’t they believe every legal vote should be counted and every legal vote should count the same?
Maybe I’m being naive about other Americans, but I would hope this is the one area where we could reach some bipartisan agreement. That’s why I am drawn to the National Popular Vote (NPV) movement.
In spite of the current systems in place, the reality is that Clinton won at least 228 electoral votes. If voters in each of these states work together to pressure state governments to pass this legislation, we would only need Florida and Pennsylvania to get on board to end the insanity of the electoral college. We will never again feel like the voice of the people has been subverted. Because, at our core, I trust that most Americans believe that our democracy is more important than our party. Even if you don’t like election results, we have to return to a place where we want to know the truth.
Maybe I’m being stupid and naive. But the history of our country has shown that ideas that were deemed impossible to change or against the will of God have become universally accepted: slavery, women’s suffrage, integration, mixed marriages. Even a conservative Supreme Court has opened the doors on same sex marriage. So I say why wouldn’t a large majority of Americans band together to support democracy?
That’s something worth fighting for.
If you live in a state that went to Clinton, I hope you check out ways to make NPV happen in your state. If you are part of the majority, you have to organize and push your state legislature to make it happen. If not, learn more about how to get the measures on the ballot in your state.