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The Urgency of Voting in the Era of the Progressive Movement

The election cycle in the last two decades has gotten more polarized and divisive as people start to tune in and politicians get desperate to hold on to power. Since that fateful decision in Florida that divided the country as the Supreme court rendered a decision to select Bush, we have become more polarized as we see how much elections matter.

We have since witnessed the ravages of 9/11, waged wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and a faceless and borderless war against Terror, we have seen the economy crumble as people lost their home and their life savings, we have seen the rise of gun violence, the impact of environmental disasters such as those in New Orleans, Haiti, South East Asia, California, and many countless places. Most of these occurred during the Bush Administration, and our lack of proper leadership and guidance allowed us to fester in fear and paranoia of everything unknown. We relinquished our power and basic rights to trust the words of our leaders, but it was only a matter of time before we would wake up to the world we had helped create. At that time, we were getting a small preview and a message to no longer trust and blindly follow our leader regardless of what political party they belonged to or what mesmerizing message they were promoting.

It was the beginning of a shift that few of us knew was happening. It was the revelation of the fallacy we had always been taught; to trust our leaders without questioning them or holding them accountable.   We forgot a democracy without an engaged and aware constituency can never be a true democracy. It was not enough to just vote for those who promised the world, looked good on paper and had all the imaginary pedigree of what it meant to be a leader. Our focus for voting was always based on the superficial judgment we had placed on the candidate and never once questioned or looked below the surface.

No political party was immune to the true mongers of our democracy; those who supported both sides to hedge their bets, all the while doing their dirty work in the dark. These were the mongers who had pillaged our environment, destroyed vulnerable countries and communities with their insatiable greed, overworked and abused their own people, bartered and traded the lives of people as they tallied their profits and bottom line. They are the borderless, shameless, empty souls who have destroyed our democracy, all the while we have been sleeping in the illusion of comfort and the promise of an unclaimable dream. It was only a matter of time before it started crumbling, that our eyes could finally see the lies we had been living and the illusions we were pursuing.

Many people were not slowly waking up and questioning if our government or public officials had our best interest at heart. As the problems increased, they continued to not see our leaders blunder any opportunity to bring people together or even attempt to tackle these tough challenges. When all of this was happening to wake us up of our dream state, we chose to not reflect on what was ours to do.  Instead, we went back to the drawing board and started looking for a new leader that we could trust so that we could go back to letting our leaders make decisions on our behalf.

We lost all faith in one party and jumped to the party of hope and elected the first African American President. Barack Obama inspired us and made us dream bigger regardless of everything that was stacked against him; a failing economy, rising cost of living, 2 wars and many countless ones done from a desk of a drone commander, a lost confidence in our values and way forward. As he took the oath of office, we all celebrated the significance of the day, but he warned that for a democracy to work that we all needed to be engaged and participate. He constantly said “We” instead of “I” because he knew that he could not tackle these problems alone. He had no idea that our hope and dream for a president and government we can trust was so that we can go back to our normal life and not have to deal with the hassle of checking in on our government or being involved. Once he was in office, we all tuned out and went back to life as usual.

The battle over the Affordable Care Act was a big blow as we started to see a splinter in the party with so-called Blue dog democrats. We the people were not there to demand and push our leaders to do the right thing, so they went back to checking polls and strategic analyst who betted on the need of the people. So, it is no surprise that we got a watered-down version of universal healthcare and allowed the other side to control the narrative. They used any ploy possible to destroy the idea of Universal Healthcare and demonized it to the very people who needed it.

As we continued to tune out, we justified our apathy by praising how great the economy was doing and continued to be mesmerized by the symbol, brilliance, and beauty of our first family. They represented everything that we all aspired to be, educated, kind, loving, beautiful, and loving towards each other others. All the while, those who destroyed the economy were never held accountable and entered government to help write policies, our wars continued as human toll and suffering exploded, the environment continued its destructive path and the cost of living was increasing daily as the pressure to live day to day seems unbearable to most.

The rise of the opioid epidemic hitting record levels, yet we all tuned out and continued to hold on to the illusion that our country was doing great and headed in the right direction. This does not take anything away from Our president’ intent to fix it all but the problem was much too big for him to do handle alone. Especially with the amount of hatred and obstruction he faced not just for his ideas but for the mere color of his skin. We saw the rise of hatred explode as an entire network focused solely on bringing down the president and be offended by even his mere outfit. Meanwhile, our country continued to be polarized as fear became the mode of campaigning and gaining power.

We finished a two-term presidency with a president that we can all be proud of, yet the circumstances of our country still seemed bleak to most. Our government had been hijacked by corporate mongers who never cared who was in power because their only interest was self-preservation and accumulation of wealth and power. While the right seethed with fear and hatred the left was celebrating monumental decisions and pathway forward. Yet, none could have predicted what was around the corner.

In 2016, we saw the most unlikely president rise to defeat all that stood in his way. All because he did not sound or look like our typical polished and informed politician who said all the “right things.”  Despite Trump’s supposed education, he sounds dumb as a doorknob, but it was relatable to most who were tired of the elites. Despite his supposed wealth and gold adorned materials, he seems like an average guy. Despite his constant lies and fabricated stories, he sounds like a truth teller for the mere fact that he only listens to his ego filled brain, rather than any political strategies and pollster.

Editorial cartoon by Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News. February 26, 2016

Despite all of Trump’s flaws people started flocking to him as the answer to all their problems, which seemed unsolvable by the “average politician.” They were willing to gamble on a candidate who openly told lies rather than the one who did it behind closed doors. His willingness to follow his misguided and uninformed gut was a better bet than the ones who came in sheep’s clothing. Deep down people knew he didn’t give a damn about them, but they were already used to that so that was no longer the litmus test. They would rather embrace all the racist, sexist, judgmental and ignorant things he said because these things were already part of our society, harbored in the darkness of our collective consciousness.

We know we live in a country have women never had a fair wage and were capped by glass ceilings, we know that minorities never had a fair chance in life much less in court, we know that poverty and suffering is a fate in life we all pretend doesn’t exist. This candidate did not create these things, he just openly embraced them, which seemed heroic by some who supposedly were tired of political correctness. Our deeply held beliefs and accepted norms that we never dared talked about were now out in the open.

This division was exposed not so we can point fingers at each other but so that we can find a way to bring it to light and heal with one another. Yet, that was not the course we took or were willing to look at. It was our turn to be enraged and take to the streets to resist anything we think Trump represents: hate, racism, fear, and ignorance. Whether you loved or hated the man, people are now out in the streets either protesting or adoring the shockingly elected leader.

After two years of his presidency, we have seen some of the most outrageous decisions and policies that have pulled at the hearts of America. He had an openly white nationalist running his campaign, has elevated corrupt corporate mongers in his administration, and we are witnessing the daily attack on our supreme court. He attacks anyone who dares to oppose him, dismantling of agencies like HUD and EPA. He has utterly displaced our role in the world and the United Nation and has attempted to destroy affordable care and our safety net of social security.

Some are still taking to the streets, but it’s on the surface because if we peeled back the layer of what policies are being enacted, we would all stop our daily routines and shut down the economy and way of life. We do have that level of power. If people are united in their search for better, we the people can do anything, even topple corrupt governments without using any form of violence. If only, we can stop pretending all is well and start participating and organizing and demanding better.

So, this election season, do not sit this one out. Do not just vote. Learn, learn, learn. Take a class or organize and learn how our democracy really works. Do not be distracted by the hate of others. Do not obsess on what the media is showing and stoop in fear and anger on your couch. The media is a corporation that needs you to tune in, so it can increase its rating. As much as they harp on the president, please know that they helped get him elected and continue to contribute to his rise in power.

The media was corrupt long before he came into power and I am not a fan of assuming that they are now victims. They stopped reporting unbiased news a long time ago. They have been training us to fear and hate long before we found ourselves in this situation. They kept us unaware and ignorant, had they been doing true investigative journalism they would have shown us the utter corruption at the top rather than having us fear Muslims and brown and black folks as the enemy of the state. They have been sensationalizing fear because they know that’s what increases ratings, so their outrage now is just a continuation of that and not in the interest of the people.

So, don’t look to anyone on top to save you but look to yourself and each other to find the pathway forward. We are far more alike than we are different. And, if you look closely there are hundreds of new candidates running in areas, they typically would not have a chance because they are sick and tired of being marginalized, ignored and taken for granted. Our greatness is within our reach since we all know things must get worse before they get better. Deep down you feel it too, if you truly ignore the fear and hatred no matter how justified you feel, you know that something big is happening. Change is on the horizon and these chaotic times are just a shift to people starting to take their power back, and not allow others to use and manipulate them for their own greed and power.

We have amazing candidates that are starting to change the conversation nationally, so I hope you are paying attention. These courageous candidates are not running based on an external checklist of what we typically look for in leaders, they are running with their hearts and brilliant minds, they are telling the truth, they are not pandering or participating in identity politics, and they are boldly fighting for what is right without being shamed by the other side for their bold ideas. They are diverse or are putting together a diverse campaign that speaks to all. They have the moral courage to not participate in the Us. Vs them politics but rather unify us for a better system that works for all. These leaders need all of us to be engaged, to vote and to keep them focused on what really matters. We can no longer afford to disengage and go back to our lives even once we elect these amazing candidates. Click To Tweet

There are over 300 progressive candidates, including some you may know like Andrew Gillum, Stacey Abrams, Beto O’Rouke, Vangie Williams, Abigail Spanberger to name a few.  These are all candidates that we would be proud to represent us. They are not taking money from corporations or large donors because they know they will only be working for the people once elected. Yet, their fight will not be an easy one and they need each one of us to tune in, to vote, to volunteer and be engaged. They are fighting for us and we need to fight for them and get them to the finish line.

 

 

These bold and courageous progressive leaders are not only disrupting our political parties but our own apathy as well. Even if half of these candidates are elected, we will be waking up to a new day come November 7th.  These candidates may not look or sound like any other politicians you have elected before, but they are here because they care and demand better. They will not sell out to the highest bidder because they are one of us, they’ve either had a humble beginning, have seen struggle or truly understand their role as public servants. What they have achieved in their own personal lives is far too great for them to enjoy alone and are fighting for that same possibility for all. They are fighting with their heart and that is the truest battle of all.

So, don’t fester in apathy and tune out. That is what everyone wants you to do. No, no the stakes are too high, and change has never occurred overnight. When we fight to elect these types of Bold leaders, we start changing the narrative from fear to possibility. It is not enough to hope, we must believe deep in our heart that we can chart a better path ahead. These candidates are the truest examples of what is possible so let’s get out there and get them elected.

If you are in an area where you don’t have an aspirational candidate like these, vote for ones that can work with them when they are elected. Don’t allow the obstructionist, the ones that promote fear and hatred be in charge. At a minimum, vote for the one that may not have the answer but is trying to work for the betterment of all people. Yes, their track record may not be as great as you like on all issues but once they get near these aspirational leaders it will be easier for them to find their way rather than elect one who is festering in fear and hate and will never change his/her way. The stakes are too high to lose hope and tune out so vote, vote, vote, learn, learn, learn and mobilize as if your future depends on it.  Because it truly does.

Click here to get a list of Progressives running in your area:

https://joannchateau.com/2018-progressive-candidates-ballot-initiatives-nationwide/

 

Rahel Fikre
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Rahel Fikre

Rahel is a writer who believes in the power of unity and the healing power of love. A mother of two who understands the challenges of working full time while providing for children, Rahel sees the struggle of humanity not as one of politics or religion but about the spiritual connection we all have with one another.
Rahel Fikre
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