let’s elect more than a president

I stood in line at the elementary school today.
I smiled and spoke to neighbors.
I read my book.
I talked to my girls.
I voted.
I expressed my convictions and hopes,
my beliefs in what we as a country and a community need
on my ballot.
Now we wait.

And at some point in the near future,
either I will be pleased
and some of those who were in that line with me disappointed,
or vice versa.

And while I marvel at, celebrate and take for granted
the peaceful tradition that is our democratic heritage,
come results, we will be divided into those who “won” the election
and those who “lost,”
none of us really believing though that any majority
will determine what’s right, right?

As one who often appreciates the minority voice,
there’s admittedly something good and powerful (and right!)
in separating the opinion of a majority
from the standards of right and wrong.

I do understand the appeal of personal perspective
receiving public validation.
But as I understand it, the truth
has been and continues to be shredded
in a tug of war
with both sides caring more about “winning” than truth—
as if winners could take all in what’s not a game.

And to be honest, I’m not even sure I know what’s true anymore.
Not sure where the spinning stops—if it ever does,
and we need to elect change.

I do know that we’re in dire need
of the traditional republican admonition
to live within our means.
We need to elect to be fiscally more disciplined and careful,
better stewards of taxpayers’ money.

We need to limit the promise of money from the system
as much as we can
(no, I don’t know how to do that—
though, in part, I think it involves repealing
that disastrous Supreme Court decision).
We need to allow ideas (and politicians)
to stand on merit and not in rhetoric
(not sure how to get there either).

And if we’re going to discuss fiscal discipline with integrity,
there shall be no partisan exclusions from the conversation—
no silly talk of fiscal responsibility that is cutting
all “their” programs and none of “mine.”

Even wanting to be more fiscally conservative,
we need to take care of those in our midst
(so many children) who are vulnerable—
and not in some indirect trickle-down promise,
but in direct, effective administration.

Both parties need to acknowledge
those of their traditional constituency who abuse welfare—
whether that’s individuals exploiting the system or big business,
and that will require more regulation of all welfare—
the social services kind and the tax incentives and breaks kind.

We need to just stop arguing
about whether we’re for or against big government,
and instead assess which needs
require more government involvement
and which ones require less,
and perhaps even hope that effective involvement
would eventually lead to a smaller role.

We certainly need less government in the rhetoric
of hot button social and religious concerns,
and more government dealing with problems
too big for anything else to effectively address.

We need more people talking to each other not at each other,
with the intent not of convincing, overpowering or judging,
but of learning—
and prioritizing common ground
over ideological poles
because in the attempt to pull truth to one side or another
we’re making a mockery of it.

At this time, I don’t yet know if I’ve “won” or “lost.”
If things don’t change, it won’t matter.
We’re losing ourselves.

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