Louis Gordon encourages all of us to respect and listen to everyone’s ideas at a time of the election when politics is becoming increasingly divisive.
The Avett Brothers – a band I love – in a song titled “Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise”, present a world in which, “Your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected.”
Well, to me, and to most Americans, that reality is neither ideal nor realistic. In a short two days, all of our lives will be changed, and for a lot longer than four years. Every vote down the ballot from President to local Coroner will have some effect. But, if we want to head down our road full of promise, it doesn’t start with going out to vote, it starts with listening.
This election cycle has left most people, foreign and domestic, begging for relief; relief from name-calling, from ad hominem attacks, from controversy focusing little on issues.
We can have our say by voting in this election
If Hillary Clinton is elected, we face the prospect of an unending exploration of her e-mails. Some people think she is a criminal and will persist pursuing that notion. They will relentlessly pursue data to support that conviction irrespective of the majority who have elected a President Clinton. On the other hand, if Donald Trump is elected, we will spend four years with a man who editorialists and political insiders consider unfit to be President. As of this writing, no major newspaper has endorsed Trump for President. Some papers long associated with Republican endorsements, such as the Dallas Morning News, the Arizona Republic, and the Cincinnati Enquirer, have endorsed Clinton. But, if there is a President Trump, those who think him unfit will have to listen to an electorate who voted for him.
The United States affords all of us, even those under 18, the ability to have a say in politics. We can have our say by voting, actively fighting for our beliefs, participating in political discussion, and learning about politics and current events.
Heading to the polls is a time-honored privilege, and one not to be taken lightly. Yes, the decisions may be tough, but they must be made, and they must be made by us. Participation in government is a fundamental tenet of the United States. We are expected to have our say, but we are also obligated to listen to and respect the outcome, whether we agree with it or not.
Having a say in politics is more than speaking out by voting; having a say also involves hearing what is said.
Instead, I observe that too few people listen to those with whom they disagree. Too few are willing to abide a point of view different from their own. In short, there already is a wall in politics. There is a barrier that divides Republicans and Democrats, widens party gaps, and contributes to dysfunctional government. There is enormous resistance even to hear opposition. Some senators predict that if Hillary is elected there will be no action on her Supreme Court nominees until the next Presidential election. This unwillingness to harken to election results is enormously problematic.
There is more than a “head full of doubt” about the future when we stubbornly refuse to listen to election outcomes.
When the President, whoever he or she may be, has a team willing to work together rather than persist in stubborn opposition we have a much better road to travel. A system of checks and balances is, of course, a component of the American ideal; but if the system operates without accepting differences and working to resolve them through talking and listening, arguing and agreeing, we have stalemate.
Lines which exist in America, whether they are racial, gender-oriented, religious, or ethnic must become permeable. We must cross them. We must put aside our differences and stand united as Americans. We need to restore the ideals of American political discourse. Whether we are Republican or Democrat we must remember we are looking for a path forward. If opponents kneel for the National Anthem, we must remember that’s how they are having their say. We should listen as we stand either beside them or kneel with them. The path forward should be wide enough to accept and respect differences.
The Avett Brothers are wrong, our lives will change with this election if we are willing to change. We have more power than we have displayed; we need to start using it responsibly. Passionate disagreement should be followed by a willingness to abide by election results. We need to hear all sides of an argument. We achieve a common path forward by adopting the notion that compromise propels us. Only then will America pick up on our road of promise.