None of Our Votes Matter
What we do after the election will
I write this on the eve of the 2020 U.S. election. The day of reckoning is upon us. Or will it be the day of “wreckoning”?
If Donald Trump wins, there will be celebrating and gloating from his supporters and cries of lamentation from his foes.
If Joe Biden wins, there will be celebrating and gloating from his supporters and cries of lamentation from his foes.
The direction of our country (and therefore the world, because we’re still the biggest big kid on the block) will differ based on the election. But any hope for the future, regardless of your political and ideological leanings, will not depend on Tuesday’s outcome; it will depend on our collective actions as citizens.
The battles must stop.
The protests must stop.
The name calling and cries of despair must stop.
There is only one hope for our future and it ain’t Obi Wan (or Joe or Donald).
We must find our common ground and use that as the foundation for creating our future.
Medicare for all will not fix what ails us (neither will getting rid of Obamacare).
Eliminating regulations on business and industry will not make us rich or close wealth gaps (neither will more regulations, a higher minimum wage, or universal income).
Defunding police will not end racial injustice (nor will increasing police funding).
Law and order will not end crime and violence (nor will passing police reform measures).
An overwhelmingly conservative Supreme Court will not end abortions (neither will fully funded health care including free contraceptives)
With the election behind us, we must have real, substantive dialogues about our country and its future, and we must have these across political and ideological lines.
We must recognize that nearly every American shares the same values and similar visions for our country.
On October 22, 2020, USA Today published the story, “Hidden Common Ground: We found that Americans are more united than it appears.” It shared the results of research showing, on numerous substantive issues, Americans agree more than disagree. It even showed Americans believe they are “less divided than they are made out to be by politicians and media pundits.”
Similarly, research by Rushworth Kidder shows Americans (and the rest of the world’s citizens) share the same fundamental values.
Why, then, do we face such caustic battles largely across political and ideological lines?
For one single overwhelming reason: Those currently in power due to their wealth, positions, or elected office (and often a combination of these), benefit when the rest of us fight each other over the methods of achieving our shared vision.
Once we realize solutions can be found through collaboration and teamwork, we will also realize our current “leaders” have been playing all of us for fools.
The time has come to discuss our vision for the future of our country with those whom we view as “the opposition.” That vision can’t include the methods of achieving the vision, but must focus only on the vision itself.
The time has also come to discuss our values as individuals and as a society. These discussions must be about actual values and not the distortions of values through which actions are far too often justified.
And maybe most important, the time has come to listen. We must listen to those with whom we have often disagreed. We must listen with open minds and open hearts.
We must listen without any agenda except building understanding of each other’s fears and hopes for the future. We must not judge these fears and hopes but instead honor their reality and then build bridges toward common ground.
Our country will not survive long into the future if our votes are the only power we wield; there are a small number of powerful people who have too much control over our voting choices.
Those in power rely on the rest of us settling for their “solutions” rather than demanding collaborative solutions that aren’t counter to our values.
We can begin to erode their power by taking away their greatest weapon — divisiveness. It can begin small. Find one person with whom you disagree politically or ideologically and ask them to share their vision of the future and their hopes and fears for getting there.
Then, listen to them without trying to formulate an argument or response. Instead, continue to ask clarifying questions until you start to see connections to your own vision, hopes, and fears.
From there, repeat with others or invite others to join your discussion.
The power of the people can only be achieved when we come together across political and ideological lines. As long as we remain divided, there is no hope of achieving the dreams we have for the future.
We must each do our part to bridge that divide. Only then can we seek real, achievable solutions to our greatest challenges while creating incredible new opportunities for future generations.
A Boomer who joined the Army during the Cold War and continues to serve. Kevin spent 30-plus years working in K-12 education as a teacher, administrator, and consultant. His book, Know Power, Know Responsibility, provides the imperatives for a complete redesign of schools and the way to get there.