By Samir Shukla
I’ll take an Xtra Large Election with Lots of Peppers, Smattering of Nuts, and Hold the Mail
Are we finally approaching November? That month with a caustic presidential election that's been cooking for a couple of years now?
All the primaries have wrapped, the conventions are over and out of the way, and the candidates are now finalized. Forget the boxing gloves, knives and cannon balls are out now. A flood of negative ads, misinformation, disinformation, and some of the worst human traits will be released and will float around everywhere like a visible virus.
I'm convinced there are lots of good people out there who would like to run for office and help move the country forward in positive ways but would never consider it due to the soul-destroying campaigning required. Kindness doesn't go far in politics, but the massive middle needs to hold steady. The noisemakers on the right and the left will try to dishevel the process, but steadiness lies in the quiet middle.
Most Americans, no matter their political affiliation, are reasoned people and simply want to get on with their lives while making progress on the social and economic fronts. They are not interested in culture wars. They realize change is a slow-moving train, requiring discipline, hard work and transparency. Blaming the media is also an easy copout. Everything is media today. Voters need to do their homework. Read and research multiple sources. If you lean progressive, read well-written conservative writers, if you lean conservative, read well-written progressive writers. They will open minds and reduce tribalism just a little bit. It is a blend of ideas that inform most Americans' points of view. Self-critique and reflection of one's biases and ideologies will further help unlock a world of positive possibilities.
As November approaches, plan to vote like your life depends on it. Of course your life doesn't depend on voting, but it absolutely is affected in every manner by actions and policies enacted by politicians and elected officials. This is especially true on the local and statewide levels. In this the Year of Our Pandemic, the typical topsy-turvy world of elections has been unraveled to the most convoluted levels. Typical rallies and ways of physically connecting with people have been replaced by virtual means. The Postal Service has become an election ping pong ball.
Fortunately, there are bipartisan folks working to give voters more access, more places and ways to cast their ballots. If lots of reasoned people participate, demand transparency and access to ballots, this election won't be as chaotic as some predict.
The debates kick off in September. There are three presidential debates and one vice presidential. Also look for local and statewide debates for governor and other races. This year, when politicking in front of crowds is not recommended, the debates have acquired a larger importance. They are the final battlegrounds.
I was going to attend both conventions this year with media credentials. An invisible microbe put an end to that. The virtual conventions seemed surreal, almost unreal. Politics needs people. Candidates make real connections when speaking to people in public. This year that is not going to happen in the normal sense of big, gathered crowds. Virtual conventions became the need of the hour. But rest assured, for all the talk about conventions going away, they will return in 2024. We are creatures of touch and breath and need the proximity of other humans to thrive and connect. This is especially true of political conventions, rallies, and speeches.
The pandemic, social unrest, economic collapse, tribal warfare all have become markers for this election.
A boat doesn't need a big hole at the bottom to sink. An overloaded and bloated boat with lots of tiny holes can sink it as well. It really makes no difference whether you tag yourself as progressive, conservative, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent, or whatever floats your boat.
The simple plug to keep that boat from sinking is casting your thoughtful vote.