Here we are now, after the election, all of us in the same boat. Some are stunned that their unlikely candidate won. Others are stunned that they could be so blind, or so arrogant in their confidence. Being in the second group, I vacillate between fury and despair.
In traffic for work last Tuesday, the mid-90s, 1/2 ton pick-up in front of me taunted me with a variety of conservative bumper stickers. One stood out in particular: “Visualize No Liberals.”
This is about all of us. Visualize all you want, but you will never wake up and find yourself transported to a world conveniently devoid of people who are different than you. The world around us is the way it is precisely because those different people shared ideas, tried things out, got it wrong and still had enough tolerance for each other to try something else. People who value the same things that you do have good and bad ideas, just like people who value different things. It’s not a perfect world but by almost every objective measure- it is the best it has ever been.
The bumper sticker pissed me off because it seemed this person would much rather entertain a fantasy than take responsibility for getting to know the other half of the citizenry their government represents. A fantasy I’ve also let myself entertain on occasion, and that has never proven useful.
Strangely, I am thankful the election has forced me to reconsider my thread in the fabric of society. What do I want to stand for as an engaged citizen? Why do I (usually) cheer for the left side of the aisle? What are my fundamental political priorities? I wanted to get a short list on the record (in no particular order):
- Public policy rooted in real science that is peer-reviewed, transparently documented, and repeatable
- Fundamentally equal treatment of all people by the government
- A clean, safe, and healthy environment for people and wildlife
- Infrastructure development that promotes urban density, defends farmlands & wildlands, and accommodates long term economic and population growth
- Publicly-funded education that reflects and encourages the exchange of ideas amongst diverse groups of students.
- High quality, accessible, and affordable healthcare for everyone
- Proponents of rational and balanced foreign policy that minimizes military action at every opportunity
- Maintain a capitalist market place, focused on upholding enforceable contracts, with subsides carefully considered as warranted for true public well being
- Maintain a basic social safety net that supports disadvantaged people getting back into the workforce
- Balance the federal budget, every damn year
- Political discourse that is thoughtful, respectful, and remains focused on stuff that government actually does
In 2016 this seems like too much to ask of our government, but if no one asks- it always will be.
This is not a post about the silver lining. I’m still angry that America was foolish enough to elect an inexperienced misogynist. I’m more angry that just less than a quarter of eligible voters were able to take a fat, wet shit on 40 years of progress towards pretty much everything I care about. The responsibility I have to give a voice to these priorities just got heavier, and the weight is scary.
I have been trying to have more conversations with people outside of my bubble- and no one is arguing “yeah, I want dirtier air to breathe and worse schools for my kids!” Neither have I spoken with anyone that has said “I just wanted to vote for racism.” More often than it seems, we want the same things, but the method is different. I won’t ever tolerate bigotry, but I also won’t visualize a world without conservatives- their perspective is too essential in getting a true majority of people closer to what we all collectively want.