On this night of the 2018 election, with results trickling in, I’m focused on finding gratitude for the 2016 election.
Hang in there; I’m making lemonade.
So much has changed for me in the past two years. Perhaps you can identify.
- I learned the extent to which racism still exists in this country and I am angry. I wrote about this in January.
- I came to understand my role of privilege as a straight, white, educated woman and I am humbled. I will be writing about this in December as part of our ongoing Talking About Race series.
Irecognize that any advances we might make toward stemming climate change, will need to be done at the state and local levels and I am afraid. This one I’ve not yet written about and have no plans. What more could I possibly say that hasn’t been said already?
- I now see politics differently than I once did.
I see politics differently in my 60s than I did in my 20s and 40s.
No longer is politics a game people play, as I thought in my 20s. Nor is it all about power: how to get it, how to wield it, how to hold onto it as I was taught in my 40s as a PhD candidate in Political Science.
Today, politics for me is a set of moral choices that affect people’s lives — everyday people and everyday lives. I have come to believe it depends not on whether you lean conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, progressive or regressive — the political choices we make are moral choices.
Now, there are certain moral choices we can all agree on and George Lakoff puts it well in his Little Blue Book. He says we DO have things we agree on:
- Things should work. Cars should run, electricity should be brought to our homes, airplanes should be on time and not crash, cell phones should work everywhere and not drop calls, and garbage should be collected regularly.
- People should have jobs. Everyone should be able to work for a living, do well at the job, and be paid fairly.
- People should be healthy. Major disease should be kept in check, people should take care of themselves as well as possible, the effects of illness and injury should be minimized.
- There should be public order. People should obey the laws, laws should be enforced fairly and effectively, and the courts and administrators should administer justice.
- Daily life should go smoothly. Goods should be available and affordable, traffic should flow smoothly, and people should be able to go about their everyday lives without incident.
- There should be peace. There should be no invasions or terrorist attacks, no need for war, and no threat of war.
I could add to that list as I’m sure you can too and as Ally Bean did recently in her Spectacled Bean blog, On Election Day: 7 Issues On Which Americans Can Agree, bringing a few much needed smiles to my face.
Still, no matter how long a list we comprise, it’s the “HOW” that divides us. Sometimes it’s simply the matter of how we define our terms (not to say it’s a simple matter). What’s “a living?” What’s “fair pay?” How much “minimized” is enough?
But other times — and more and more it seems — it comes down to return on investment: How do we weigh the cost of these things?
Think of Lakoff’s second point above, “People should have jobs.”
How will these people get to work? This becomes a political question when you consider what mass transportation looks like. Or how much automobiles cost. Or how salary structures are concocted. It’s all connected.
Who cares how someone gets to work? The individual alone? Or might it be a public concern? More and more, I’m wanting a “public” that will care about each other. And striving for that is what politics is all about.
We are still creating that “more perfect union.” We have a long way to go but it’s worth the effort, don’t you think?
Unfortunately, I must add that as people get scared, they often hunker together with their own “birds of a feather.” It’s understandable, really. There is less interest in (less energy for?) differences, tolerance, and acceptance. The familiar becomes even more appealing than usual.
And that is what frightens me the most about our current state of affairs. Yes, I’m grateful for what I’ve learned in the past two years. But I also believe things will not get better until they get worse. I don’t yet know the results of today’s election, but I won’t let myself be optimistic.
Let me repeat: We are still creating that “more perfect union.” We have a long way to go but it’s worth the effort, don’t you think?
How about you? What have you found to be grateful for from the election of 2016?