Wednesday, November 9, 2016

To My Shocked And Horrified Friends: Opportunity Is Knocking

I know that a lot of my friends and family are reeling right now from the election results. I’m shocked, too, and I share the concerns of many that our nation has just elected a president who is completely unqualified for the job. But I also feel that this is a pregnant moment in history and we have a priceless opportunity that should not be wasted.

Now is the time for us to realize that an adversarial winner-takes-all election process is simply unacceptable. Now is the time to create a vision for real change and genuine progress in 2020.

Those that were campaigning hard for Clinton now have a golden opportunity to understand how their enemies would have felt if the Democratic party had been successful—and how they did feel a mere four years ago when Obama was elected to serve a second term. I don’t know how many will be capable of this kind of empathy, but I know some will, and that gives me hope.

This whole situation is much easier for me, emotionally, because I see the dire situation we are in regardless of who is in the White House and I am actually relieved that the American people have not chosen the business-as-usual candidate. I am not at all certain whose presidency would ultimately be more disastrous: Trump or Clinton. But no matter what, I believe we are headed for a very serious crisis and my gut tells me that it’s better to bring some of the conflict to a head earlier than later.

Anyway, I am thinking about a new solution to the problem. It’s not a third party. It’s not even a challenge to the two-party system, per se. But I’m wondering if we could build a movement to put two collaboratively-oriented candidates (as opposed to the usual adversarially-oriented candidates) on the ballot next election: a collaboratively-oriented Democrat and a collaboratively-oriented Republican. I mean people who don’t just talk about reaching across the aisle—those that actually do it. The goal would be to have two candidates, both of whom would be considered “acceptable” by a majority of folks in either party.

Those kind of people do exist. They do not currently win primary elections, but who says they can’t?

Bottom line in my mind is that I do not want to see this country torn apart by partisan politics. It’s already happening and we need to act now if we expect to change course.

I want to see us united under a leader who understands and honors the values that both our major parties represent. I want to see conservatives and progressives finding common ground, listening to each other, honoring one another’s values, and creating new solutions that may not give everyone everything they (think they) want, but that everyone can at least agree is fair and worth a try.

It’s possible that it’s already too late for us to get out of the mess we’ve made, but I don’t think so. I think we will survive the Trump years. But we cannot afford very many more non-leaders as presidents. We cannot continue to put forward candidates who, at their very best, manage to unite a single fractured party, representing less than a third of the nation’s population—and at their worst? You can fill in the blank.

I say we try for 2020 and if it doesn’t work, we take a page from the Donald’s book: learn from the first attempt, regroup, try again. Doesn’t Trump’s victory show us that anyone—even the wildly unqualified—can be president?