In 2016, decades of neglect on behalf of those in political authority caused a surge of bitterness and democratic participation on behalf of industrial workers in forgotten regions of both the United States and the United Kingdom, resulting in the Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump.
In both cases leading economic and political commentators from across the political spectrum denounced what they viewed as a threat to the continued well-being of their nation: they warned that a United Kingdom outside of the Eurozone would be in a disadvantageous position to govern a country at the forefront of Western democracy, and that a United States under a President Trump would cause political turmoil and chaos in the very nation that prides itself as the “leader of the free world.”
In the past two years, the British government has faltered many times in pursuit of favorable terms in its departure from the European Union, and the President Trump, foolish to consider his naivete a bureaucratic strength, has disrupted the new world order abroad and challenged the limits of the Constitution at home.
Yet, today the people of the United States will have an opportunity to alter the direction of the country, to reject the ideology of hate that has become so potent across the land, and to restore a dedication to reason that has been absent from the 115th Congress.
However, to take advantage of such an opportunity, a clear distinction between the actions of the two political parties must be drawn, for never before has the country been faced with such an obvious contrast as it is today.
– One party embraces Americans of all backgrounds, the other has supported a man with a record of demonizing minorities and developing nations as well as refusing to disavow white supremacists.
– One party has sought to determine the source of election meddling in the 2016 election, the other has actively undermined Congressional and Justice Department investigations of the matter.
– One party has spent the last ten years striving for a better national healthcare system, the other has attempted three times in the past two years to repeal the expanded coverage given to more than 20 million people under the Affordable Care Act, including those with preexisting conditions.
– One party believes that climate change is a growing threat that needs to be addressed in the wake of catastrophic natural disasters, the other persists in a stubborn belief that the rise in CO2 levels and warming oceans is purely coincidental.
– One party has tried to provide some form of legal residency to undocumented immigrants without any place to go, the other has permitted the separation of young children from their parents at the southern border to continue indefinitely.
– One party has been willing to negotiate the subject of immigration, the other has pursued a mere fantasy in a wall covering the nearly 2,000-mile distance from San Diego to Brownsville.
– One party forced out a sitting Senator due to allegations of sexual harassment, the other stood by a Senate candidate in Alabama with credible accusations of pedophilia.
– One party has respect for the freedom of the press, the other has sitting members who openly threaten the press.
– One party has strived for years to restrict the presence of military grade weapons on our streets and in the hands of dangerous individuals, the other has been so painstakingly insistent on maintaining its support from the NRA that it has refused to compromise on even the most basic gun control measure, even after the tragedies in Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland, and other cities.
– One party trusts the United States intelligence community, the other contradicts it on an international stage, encouraging autocrats like Putin and the Saudi royal family to violate the laws of other nations, including our own.
– One party has maintained the sense of matured decency long expected from those in public office, the other has run rampant in child-like mockery of celebrities, world leaders, and even fellow elected officials.
– One party has been generally supportive of democracy across the world, the other has embraced strongmen in the Philippines, North Korea, and most of all, Russia.
– One party is committed to the rule of law, to the role of the United States as a leading force for good, and to the founding principles of the nation as ordained in the Constitution, the other is dedicated to emphasizing the law only when it suits their political agenda, to continuing their pathetic policy of isolationism, and to the overarching principle of their party, the lack of principle itself.
Democrats are not perfect, nor are Republicans evil. It would be ludicrous to suggest anything to the contrary. Furthermore, to impugn the intentions of most Republican voters across the country as unintelligent, racist, or “out of touch” does a disservice to the common identity of the nation and produces only additional cause for antipathy on either side.
Every republic requires a liberal and conservative party that are able to disagree on policy while knowing that both are dedicated to the common good. Such constructive debate is how countries produce the best results for their citizens and strengthen their institutions, ensuring that neither ideology can swing so far as to corrupt the nation’s political function.
However, this coming election is not just a choice between Democrats and Republicans, liberals or conservatives. The United States is not coming apart at its seams from an argument over a small or centralized federal government, or even the need for a strong social safety net.
Rather, this election is for the soul of the nation itself, to see if the American experiment is still alive and well in the 21stcentury. Whether such flagrant disregard of the truth and the deterioration of America as the preeminent authority in matters of freedom at large goes unpunished or rejected is the question that must be answered correctly come November 6th.
In Shakespeare’s play Richard II, the Bishop of Carlisle portends to Henry Bolingbroke the chaos that will reign in England if he usurps the throne from the play’s namesake king. He decrees that the country is destined to a dark future where “the blood of England shall manure the ground” and “disorder, horror, fear, and mutiny” are prevalent throughout the land. He concludes by telling all those present for his speech to “prevent it, resist it, let it not be so. Lest child, child’s children, cry against you woe!”
Make no mistake, this election is truly a defining moment of our time. The plague of unscrupulous behavior that emanates from the halls of the White House has spread quickly through those of Capitol Hill and the adjacent federal bureaus.
There were many new participants in the 2016 election, including many just a few years older than I, who voted for the current president in the belief that he was “funny” and would provide entertainment to the otherwise dull subject of public affairs. I say that as someone who once pertained to the same belief, the joke has long since grown old, and the purpose of government is not for the people to relish in its dysfunction. We are given this year the ability to make a critical choice. Just like elections in years prior, the vote we cast can change fundamentally the nature of our country, and our world.
We can prove that it is still possible to repudiate this torrent of falsehoods and reign of resentment, and to return instead to a political climate where the need for a “more perfect union” is placed above all else. But there is simply only one way to achieve such a goal. We must reject the disorder that has been perpetuated throughout the nation by those who control the government, and elect individuals to public office who are dedicated to the meaning of the United States, not inexorably loyal to a single man.
Know that the vote you cast, or the vote you convince your friends or family to cast, will determine whether this nation fell further into the void of chaos where the light of democracy was obscured by the shadow of encroaching authoritarianism, or instead moved in a positive direction that resisted tyrannical tendencies and secured the blessings of liberty for future generations of Americans to come.