The 2004 election is the first election that I remember having a strong opinion on. I was too young for Bill Clinton’s elections and Bush vs Gore didn’t mean a lot to a 9 year old. I’ll never forget seeing a young senator with ties to Hawaii give the keynote speech and I’m not so sure it’s my memory or a series of video clips laid on top of each other. Of course, I don’t remember all of it, but that’s what the internet is for:
It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: “E pluribus unum,” out of many, one.
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.
Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.
There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.
The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.
We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states.
There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.
We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
These words deeply resonated with me, it brought me comfort after the Tea Party sweeps in 2010, after racist attacks in the country, and yes in my everyday life. I believed that political polarization was not nearly as bad as we thought it was, that these feelings were heightened due to an election season. I believed that most of were okay for the most part.
I know that there will be many think pieces about how the people who voted for Trump are actually Democrats who believe that the government should have a hand in helping people up through job training or workers’ rights. I know that many think pieces will be written talking about how the election was uncallable. Many pieces will be written about how Hillary Clinton was unpopular and should have never been nominated. (Never mind that I disagree with much of it.)
There are many lessons to be taken from today, but at this point I’m pretty sure that one lesson is: there might not be a United States of America. There might be a huge red America and blue America, it might be mixed together in states but it’s very real. I don’t watch cable news, I read the NY Times, the Washington Post, and Vox.com – am I building my own reality? I might consider it factually accurate, but it doesn’t stop the fact that a huge number people don’t interact with the world the way that I do.
Here’s the thing about those people: those people votes matter way more than mine do. In the general way, we’re equal but people who live in Pennsylvania and North Carolina’s votes matter more in the electoral college. I’m not sure what the next steps are, it certainly cannot be a continuation of the division of this country- all that is left is to build bridges – small ones, big ones, ones with former enemies. In times of fear and heartache- we have to wipe the blood off our face and move on.
On that note, let’s listen to this podcast about bringing people together. Let’s make it real.