As we close the curtain on Tuesday’s midterm election the will of the people provided a mixed bag of successes or failures—all depending on who you talk to.
So many people were emotionally invested in a win for their ego or party. There were a few hopeful signs in this election including a large voter turnout, a rejection of extremes and a denial of a local referendum that needed greater cooperation and transparency from town, county, community and school leadership.
A quote from Alex de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America comes to mind: “The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.”
What continues to trouble me is polarization, the exploitation of identity politics and the political theater of our mass media that moves from crisis to crisis.
These are the divisions that make us pawns of parties… not Americans.
Another troubling trend is the shrinking number of independent local papers. As election results came in from across the nation it was apparent that fewer and fewer papers were out there covering the news and results. This is a troubling trend for a free press.
Who are we as citizens? I have always believed that we are all more alike than we are different. We all want the best for our families, fulfilling careers, health, opportunities for our children and peaceful communities.
Last Tuesday, we had a civic duty as Americans to vote--it is the greatest power given to us by our founding fathers. It is the envy of oppressed people across the globe. The results of our collective votes can stir the pot or tip it over.
Our history is important, imperfect, sometimes unfair, sometimes glorious, but it is always uniquely American. We have been a work in progress since our independence. Hopefully, that will never change.
This weekend, we honor our nation’s servicemen and women on Veterans Day. Coming from a military family and as a former soldier myself, it has always been important for me to encourage my children to experience the company of veterans.
Growing up I found comfort in the military. I grew up on bases where “we all” were green and we took care of each other. My closest friends came from all backgrounds, their faces had many shades of color and their accents varied. Success was based on merit, hard work and leadership.
There’s a promise among soldiers that holds true no matter the situation, “I have your six.” This promise means that you are covered by your comrade from all directions—that you will never be left behind or forgotten. Good luck finding that level of caring in the civilian world.
One of the greatest lessons I learned from the military was the simple act of service to community—to constantly work towards making the world better one small step at a time.
It’s never easy, but it’s worth the sweat.
As we close the books on an election let us look at it’s lessons. Let us take our ribbons or failures home for reflection. Let us shake the hand of our opponents, listen and see each other as Americans.
We all have plenty of work to do.