The Day After the Election

November 9, 2016

The results of this election are a wakeup call for America. Now, I have to admit that anything is possible. Maybe, hopefully, the misogyny, bigotry, and fear that we saw from Trump during the election won’t be what we see from his presidency.

This election was about gender, class, race, personal liberty, and fear. I thought we were quickly progressing on some of those issues. I’m coming to recognize that my community significantly influences my perception.

In Colorado we recently supported civil unions for same-sex couples; we allowed medical marijuana and the legalized it all together; this year we passed the End-of-Life-Options Act (an adaptation of assisted suicide); home prices have soared (though so has rent); and the job market is very strong. I see these things as progress. Many people do not. Last night, we learned that many people may not even be considering such things–they have much bigger problems, whether real or imagined.

Around the country, there is a strong, different sentiment among a significant portion of the people. We need to recognize that equality for many groups of our population has a long way to go. Those of us who see the good things in this country need to share them with others. We must also be vigilant and ready to stand up for the freedoms that we believe in, for ALL PEOPLE. Is Donald Trump the person to lead us down this road? His campaign rhetoric is dubious.

CNN analyst Van Jones put it perfectly: “People have talked about a miracle ― I’m hearing about a nightmare,” Jones said on CNN. “It’s hard to be a parent tonight for a lot of us. You tell your kids, ‘Don’t be a bully.’ You tell your kids, ‘Don’t be a bigot.’ You tell your kids, ‘Do your homework and be prepared.’ Then you have this outcome, and you have people putting children to bed tonight and they’re afraid of breakfast.

“They’re afraid of, ‘How do I explain this to my children?’ I have Muslim friends who are texting me tonight saying, ‘Should I leave the country?’ I have families of immigrants that are terrified tonight.”

Tonight, I read Words are Not for Hurting to my daughter. That seemed apropos.

A lot has changed for me. I acted and spoke much more like Trump until my mid-20s. I had to have a deep spiritual experience, a complete psychic change, to move past those prejudices. I am not proud of some of the things I did and said, but I’ve learned from them and grown from them. I hope others can too.

Nonetheless, I am sad for my wife and daughters (our first is a 19 months old and our second is due in January). Maybe she wouldn’t have understood, but I was anxious to tell my daughter about the first female President in U.S. history and that anything is possible for my daughter’s future. Of course, anything is still possible.

I’m also concerned about the potential dismantling of programs that are trying to bring our nation and world ahead, such as expanding broadband access and improving climate change.

To lesser extent, I’m concerned about regressing human rights: freedom of speech; access to education, equal pay and rights for women; access to healthcare; LGBTQ equality; etc.

Why to a lesser extent? Those things are much bigger than one person. And some of them, life affordable education, have been imploding long before Trump came on the political scene. I also continue to have faith that we will move forward. Every time humankind has been pushed to the brink of disaster, we have adapted and improved.

Now is the time for deep faith: in the Constitution; in our family, friends, and neighbors; and in whatever version of God we trust. Change is up to each one of us. Each of us needs to be the love, truth, support, and progress that we want to see in the world.


After the Election…What I think

November 8, 2012

The 2012 election is over. President Obama won re-election. Democrats kept a majority in the Senate and picked up some seats in the House. (In Colorado, Democrats now hold the governorship, the state Senate, and the state House!) Obama crushed the electoral map, even without Florida being final. And he took the popular vote. In fact, Democratic candidates have won the popular vote in 5 of the past 6 elections.

Now it’s time to get to work.

But, first, I can’t hold back sharing some of my opinions about the election, politics, the parties, and our government.

The direction of our society: To me, this election represents a clear signal of people’s desires for how they want to live and build a society.

The election involved taxes, debt, war, foreign policy, and other bureaucratic matters. But this election was really about emotions, community, and freedom.

The Republican Party, as it exists today, is not the party of Roosevelt or Lincoln or even Reagan. Today’s Republican Party is the party of fear—fear of terrorism, fear of losing money, fear of choice, fear of things that are different. People living in fear are not free.

Today’s Republican Party is the party of exclusion—don’t look the same, don’t talk the same, don’t think the same, don’t pray the same—the Republicans don’t want you.

It’s beyond intolerance and selfishness. Little emotions motivate like fear motivates.

Democrats, still imperfect, offer choice, support, community, and liberty—liberty in the form our country was founded on.

Obama’s campaign was impressive. He and his team got people to knock on doors, make phone calls, and focus on the right neighborhoods to get the votes they needed. Democrats are just doing these things much better than Republicans.

And, the Obama team sent a lot of emails. I’d be willing to bet I got close to 1,000 emails. All that Internet campaigning has been a trademark of Obama, but it really owes its roots to Howard Dean and his 2003 campaign.

Dean’s over-celebration may have ended his own presidential hopes, but he set the stage for a new strategy of campaigning using the Web. Obama’s team picked up the strategy, crafted it, and used it to support two winning campaigns. Every since FDR, that’s the best a presidential campaign can do.

By the way, Obama won Massachusetts.

Money in politics: This election season included a lot of money. According to the Sunlight Foundation, “No matter what part of it you look at, campaign spending for this election has been higher than ever before. It has been estimated that the first post-Citizens United election has brought more than $6 billion in spending.”

It’s not the amount of money that’s a problem. The problem is who is spending it and how it’s being spent.

The overshadowed story: Elizabeth Warren knocked off Scott Brown to pick up a Senate seat from Massachusetts. She is a true consumer and citizen supporter. Here are some of her comments that ring true to me. It represents the kind of honesty, humility, and realism I support.

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there – good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did. Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea – God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

The economy:
By almost every measure, the economy is improving. Here are a couple examples:

The stock market is up. The Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P 500 have all had significant gains since Obama took office.
Here’s the Dow’s performance:

Unemployment is dropping: It’s been up and down, but it’s currently about the same as when Obama took office.

The elites: There are just as many rich Democrats as rich Republicans. People living in the wealthiest areas of the country voted for Obama.
Here are the 100 wealthiest counties in the US:

And here’s the Electoral map:

People living in the most affluent counties in the country, other than in Texas and a few in Virginia, voted for Obama.

Moving on: We get four more years of a President who believes in working together, not leaving any one behind, and moving every one forward. We also get at least two more years of a divided Congress. We all want action from our elected officials, but we, as a country, are not frustrated enough to make it happen. Apathy and disillusionment are still holding us back. The 2012 voter turnout isn’t final yet, but it’s not looking good, even worse than 2008.

Luckily we live in the country with the most changeable system of government in the world with the most opportunities for citizens to take the reins. We just need to step up and do it.