I haven’t said much about the election. I am a voracious reader, someone who keeps up on the news, yet I have only contributed soundbite opinions when drawn into a political conversation where it would be rude to refuse. I’ve been watching the mood of the headlines and my FB feed, tempted to chime in, but I have just felt too tired.
I’ve had a lot going on. I recently moved to a new city (“moved” is still a nebulous concept in my world). I’m sober again, there has been a lot of attention and excitement around the musicals I’m writing for, and I’ve been dealing with some medical stuff. Money issues are ever-present, no change there, but my priorities have changed quite a bit. I have not had much bandwidth to be very active in this election, other than to vote. But in the waning Chicago light, I feel oddly moved to throw in my two cents.
I voted for Bernie last time, and Hillary. It was painful to witness my mother watch Hillary lose that race, a memory that will stay with me. It was otherworldly to watch what’s-his-face take the wheel of the US Government, and it has been jaw-dropping to see so much good work dismantled in the name of blind tribalism. I think Warren is kickass, hooray for gay Buttigieg getting as far as he did, Kamala, Booker, even Biden as VP under Obama- you go. And I would be more than grateful for any of them in place of who we have now. But I voted for Bernie again this time, without fanfare.
Take an analogy, if you will – and this is actually NOT about healthcare! Hang in there with me – sometimes in life, one gets injured or sick enough to need to go to the hospital. Do you want to go to the hospital? No. Do you want to live in the hospital all the time? Of course not. Do you want to admit that you need to go to the hospital? Probably not – you have shit to do, life is hard enough without disruptions, and who wants to face the prospect that there might be something dangerously wrong that would require time, effort, vulnerability, and trust to deal with – nobody ever. But at some point, you’ll probably need go to the hospital. Is going to the hospital a conservative or liberal idea? Of course it is neither – something’s wrong and it won’t fix itself, so you go to the damn hospital. Hopefully it’ll be quick, you’ll focus on the problem for however long it takes and change some things about your lifestyle so you don’t have to deal with it again. Fingers crossed. But the sooner you go, the sooner you can get on with your life.
I wish we could actually vote for policies, and not personalities or parties. Noteworthy about the Founding Fathers’ original intentions is that they feared the electorate would split into warring political factions.. I highly doubt they would have agreed to restrictions requiring voters to register as a particular party in order to vote for the candidate of their choice. The Electoral College system was based on population numbers that changed long, long ago, yet it hasn’t changed. Citizens United is an absolute abomination in a supposedly democratic society. The incomprehensible sums of money that are spent in elections are shameful – and I don’t use that word lightly – when politicians hem and haw over the cost of evidence-based social programs that improve people’s lives and the economic success of the nation. Economic inequality is a grotesque and mindless monster slobbering all over everything, mangling and munching until it ultimately devours itself. Climate disasters are coming – they are here and getting worse – and we are in no way prepared. It will get ugly. Our country is sick folks, we need to suck it up and go to the hospital.
We need campaign finance reform. We need a single-payer healthcare system. We need to deal with our student debt crisis and provide accessible quality education for everyone. We need solutions to our massive contribution to Global Warming. We need industry turnover for pure survival, and so people can have jobs that actually go somewhere and mean something. We need to quit meddling in the affairs of other sovereign nations and killing hundreds of thousands of people in the process. We need regulations on how much more a CEO can get paid than the bottom tier worker; some kind of redistribution of wealth (sorry, not sorry) – it’s obscene, immoral, and it’s causing massive problems. We need to spend our collective money (i.e. our tax dollars, and there are LOTS of them) on things that are actually beneficial to the Earth and all it’s creatures, not just a few humans. Emergency interventions are needed to get us healthy and moving in the right direction, and that requires admitting unpleasant truths, cooperating with each other, and changing the way we live. Yuck, I know, I don’t want to have to deal with it either, but reality bites.
Do I think these challenges can be met without difficulty, or within the timespan of a single presidential term? Absolutely not. Do I think one single leader will make or break us? Nope – as if we could get off the hook that easy.
Do I think a better future is worth fighting for, even if we don’t get to see the fruits of our efforts in our lifetime? Yes I do.
Will I vote for anyone who is honestly willing to meet these challenges head on, speak truth to power, call it what it is, and get us moving in the right direction? YES.
I didn’t vote for Bernie because I like him, or because I think he earned it; this isn’t about Bernie, the guy, at all. I have my biases – I want a woman to win, I want someone LGBTQ to win, I want anyone who isn’t rich or white to win. I didn’t vote for Bernie because I’m a Democrat, or because I think he’s “electable.” I voted for his ideas, his experience, and his policies. And the numbers speak for themselves – most Americans want these policies too. It is not radical to go to the hospital, figuratively speaking, when you are really sick or injured – it’s prudent, humble, and good for everyone, not just yourself. I voted for Bernie knowing that our system isn’t fair. I voted for him knowing I would be accused of naive idealism. I voted for him knowing he may or may not win. I voted for him knowing he isn’t the only way to get there. I voted for the ideas that I think will help America evolve into a safer, stronger, smarter, fairer, and more loving country.
It worked for FDR and the Greatest Generation, it can work for us.
Whoever wins – I will continue to fight for the values of compassion, humility, justice, and the search for truth, and I will continue to believe that the world will evolve into a better place – eventually.
“Mine is a faith in my fellow man” -Billy Bragg, Between the Wars