Most of my family and close friends are advocating that I vote differently than I’m inclined.
I understand that they are sincere in their desire to ensure that autocrats or other forms of dictators don’t gain and maintain power. I’m confident that their motives are sincere, and that weighs significantly in my decision. I may vote with them out of love, respect, and the possibility that I may be wrong.
I know for certain that they are not my enemy. They are family, friends, and neighbors with differing opinions. That is worthy of loving, not hating.
But political hate seems to be pervasive. A small but vocal percentage of Americans across the spectrum so completely distrust the other team that they indicate a willingness to tolerate and even support violence against other Americans. We must rally all our best efforts against this.
This seemingly unending decay in politics and governance should dismay all of us.
It can be different, but only when we all engage thoughtfully in a different system: Voting for representatives to serve us, not rule over us.
If you’re in Colorado, there is a 25% chance you’ve already voted. Another 25% of citizens will have voted by next weekend. Thank you. Eventually, we should all hope that all citizens will vote by election day.
But the reason why we don’t have 98% plus turnout in our elections is the same thing that divides us and leaves us unable to face down the worst of American politics together — most of us don’t really wish for those who will cancel our vote to vote.
Do you really wish that every single MAGA voter convinces all their family and friends to vote in a block to turn out en masse to kick out all liberals and Democrats? Of course not. You hope your side turns out.
Do you really wish to encourage all liberals and Democrats to vote to ensure that Republicans and conservatives don’t have a chance at getting elected? No, you don’t.
Too many everyday Americans have become foot soldiers in one powerful warring family or the other — almost medieval in its simplicity — but do not realize it, instead simply voting for the family brand no matter the issue or causes of the day.
What should American citizens do?
Our priority must be to protect our pluralistic Constitutional Republic form of democracy. Determine that self-rule and self-determination are worthy of protection. The United States Constitution is essential, and we are a worthy (although imperfect) beacon of liberty and hope to the world. We’ll then realize that our current “adversaries” are not enemies they are simply citizens with a different opinion.
For the next two weeks, ask everyone you know, especially those with whom you disagree, what their thoughts are on matters of local, state, national, and worldwide concern. Listen carefully to their answers. People generally care what their family, friends, and neighbors think. They may not vote with you, but they may be willing to reconsider their vitriol or animosity.
Pick a race that you are uncertain of and contact the candidates or proponents of the issue. See if you get a return communication and by whom. Ask a few questions and voice your opinions. Tell your spheres of influence what you’ve learned. Thank all candidates for their willingness to serve.
That’s what we, as American citizens, must do, think through issues and advocate with our words. Physical fighting or threats of violence is a fight against what it means to be an American. It’s an attack on America itself. Pull everyone you know back from that brink toward good citizenship and patriotism.
If the history of the human species is indicative, our tiny blip of a couple of hundred years in America is unlikely to succeed long-term. Autocrats and dictators work to ensure our failure. We cannot allow them to take our freedom and self-determination by setting us against one another.
Americans will gain and maintain power through a love of liberty, loyalty to the written rule of law, and the insistence that authoritarians do not get their way. Millions of citizens have done their part over decades — police officers, firemen, lawmakers, and members of congress all swear an oath to a set of principles (not the rule of man) outlined in our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and constitutional Amendments. We, as citizens, should take that same oath as our newcomer naturalized citizens do.
Let’s honor this November all who choose freedom, self-rule, and loyalty to the foundational principle in our Declaration of Independence that all are created equal. Let’s vote and honor all those who are willing to participate in self-governance rather than allegiance to a person or group that exists for the sake of power.
My family, neighbors, friends, and I may never cast the exact same ballot, but I know in my heart we are all working to preserve, protect and promote America.
John Brackney is a former elected official, Army Officer, lifelong Coloradan, and business leader. He hosts a weekly discussion on contemporary public policy with U.S. History Professor Stephen Tootle on Facebook live and posted on Youtube and Spotify. Contact him at [email protected]
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