Final Thoughts. Election 2016.

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As I leave the voting booth today, after casting my vote in what I hope will be a historic election, I have some final beliefs I’d like to share.

I believe in the process. I believe in democracy. I believe that, no matter the outcome, it is a reflection of our society. And it is not rigged. I hope that our society is one that believes in progress, humanity, and love. I hope that we are not a society of racist, misogynistic, bullies making decisions based on fear and hate. I hope that whatever the decision is at the end of the day, it is the right one. I hope it is the right one for this country and I hope that if Hillary doesn’t win, that I was wrong about Donald. You see, I want nothing more than to believe that the vitriol that spews from his mouth isn’t what he actually believes, but what he knew would rally a certain sect of people behind him. I want nothing more than to be wrong about this man.

I believe it is healthy to admit fault or failure. It keeps us humble. I have no problem saying “hey maybe you’re right” and so to my friends and family that may be voting for Trump, I say, I hope you’re right. And I hope that you will afford me the same courtesy should the election end in Hillary’s favor. The tenure of this election makes me feel as though the snarky, finger pointing won’t end today and if we do chose to move forward that way, we will only continue on this divisive path. Take a day to mourn your loss and try to come together. Try to pray that the outcome is what’s best and we can all move on. Together. Because we are stronger when we are together.

I believe it is important to have convictions. I have been more vocal this time around than usual. Perhaps, because I’ve reached a point in my life where I no longer care whether or not other people approve of my thoughts and feelings. I don’t mean to offend and you should take no offense. We can agree to disagree and move on. Or not. And that is your choice. If you feel after all of this that you cannot look at me the same, that’s ok. Perhaps this election proved to us all what is really important to ourselves. I’m sure we learned things about one another we never knew. Maybe didn’t want to know. I hope that we can all come to the end of this with love in our hearts for one another. But, I refuse to silence my beliefs. They are mine and I am entitled to them. I consider myself a learner. I enjoy gathering new information and educating myself. If I don’t know or understand something, I seek the facts and answers. I wish to understand different points of view and there have been many times in my life where I began thinking one way and came out the other side thinking differently. We all have different life experiences. We all have different things that are important to us for different reasons. Remember that everyone is fighting a silent battle we know nothing about.

I believe in our men and women in uniform. I have friends who are police officers and I pray every night that they come home to their families safe and sound. I know they are good people. I know they don’t abuse their power. But I also know there are a small percentage that do. And those people need to be weeded out. There needs to be change. That doesn’t mean I can’t support the men and women in blue. It just means I’m realistic about the situation.

I believe in our military. I have generations of family that have served in our armed forces. I am extremely proud to be an American. I stand for our flag and our national anthem. That doesn’t mean I believe we are perfect and above criticism. That doesn’t mean I can’t try to understand why someone would feel so failed by our systems that their pride in our country is slipping. I believe that it is a tough job to protect our country and the people in power make decisions every day based on threats and Intel. Sometimes those decisions seem like the wrong ones, but remember that we are not aware of every threat or decision that gets made. While we saw 4 individuals die and many see that as a failure, remember its possible that a decision made that day saved 400 individuals. I have lost people close to me. Grief is strong and debilitating, I am not taking away the significance of a loss, but remember that these are possibilities and circumstances of the job. This is a reality.

I believe in equality. I have friends with different skin colors than my own. They are not thugs, rapists, criminals, terrorists, or bottom feeders. They just happen to be a different shade than I am. Their life is just as important as mine. White privilege does exist and the sooner we recognize that, admit that, and strive to do better, the better off we will all be. Remember we live on land that was occupied by brown people long before it was occupied by white people. No one human is more important than another.

I believe in labor unions. My father belonged to one. My brothers belong to one. My best friend belongs to one. Blue collar workers are what built and continue to build our great nation. The middle class citizens of this country deserve to be able to live without fear of their home being taken away, or taxes being raised to a point that they have to leave their homes and relocate.

I believe we need to raise the minimum wage. It was always meant to be a living wage; if you worked 40 hours a week at this rate, you could live. $7.25 is not a living wage.

I believe in the 2nd Amendment and our right to bear arms. I also believe that the current state of the nation and weapons advances means we need to be more strict with guns and gun laws. No one is taking your guns away. Safe. Practical laws.

I believe in freedom of religion and speech. No one should tell another human being how they can or cannot worship, can or cannot speak as long as it isn’t harming other people.

I believe that the government has no business telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her body. We have separation of church and state and so the moral argument of what god wants or what god believes doesn’t apply. No one is telling you to have an abortion. No one is telling you to agree with people who have an abortion. But you don’t get to say whether or not a woman can have one. That is her choice and hers alone. So often we hear about the morality of it all. Jesus taught us to love one another, to help one another. Instead of shunning a person for a decision you know nothing about, help them find another way.  Maybe it’s leading them to a path of god afterwards, maybe it’s not. But it is not your place to judge, that alone belongs to the creator. Also, late term abortions are not a thing. “Ripping the fetus from the womb at 9 months, on the final day” is called birth. Do your research before you climb aboard that soap box. Recognize that the safe and intelligent path is one that encourages birth control and offers more alternatives to young women instead of shunning them. Also realize that pro-life means all life, not just a fetus inside of a womb. Life means the child that is born, the baby a young mother needs help raising, the young man or woman who grows up “in the system” that can only better their life if we help them to do so, the person who commits a heinous crime and is sentenced to death. Those lives matter every bit as much as a fetus does and so if you are going to be pro-life, you should be pro-every life, not just the convenient one.

I believe that the haves should help the have nots. Not everyone is grateful or deserving, but most are. We invoke the name of Christ so often except when it matters most. Jesus taught us to help those less fortunate than ourselves. That we are all brothers and sisters. It is our civic and moral duty to help one another. You do not get to use your religious beliefs only when it serves your argument.

I believe that love is love. Two people fall in love and want to get married. That is their right. You or I have no business telling them they cannot. Two men or two women getting married does not actually affect your life in any way. Let it go. I just read a post from a friend on Facebook that he and his fiancé are going to run to city hall and get married if Trump gets elected, because he knows that right will get taken away. That’s not fair. They are amazing people, a great couple. They deserve to be married just like any one else.

I believe that climate change is a real thing and we need to address it. Our environment is dying. The Great Barrier Reef is being destroyed. Glacier National Park was once home to more than 150 polar ice caps, now there are less than 30. The current rate of global temperature rise puts 25-35% of animals at risk of extinction. Alternative fuel sources are a must! They are produced domestically, reducing our dependence on imported oil. They produce less pollution than gasoline or diesel. Also. “There is no such thing as clean coal, that’s an oxymoron”.

I believe that with time and some tweaks, Obamacare will be a great thing. I’ve had it for 3 years and it’s gotten better each year. These things take time. Myself and 11.3 million people who didn’t have healthcare before, have it now. Remember, it took Medicare and social security years to get right.

I believe the children are our future and they all deserve a great education. The best we can give them. All of them.

I believe we should make obtaining citizenship easier for immigrants. Is immigration reform necessary? Yes, of course. But to turn our backs on immigrants? Shut them out? No. We are a nation of immigrants. Built by immigrants. People risk their lives, die trying to get here to have a better life for themselves and their families. They deserve the same chance our ancestors had. The same chance we have.

I believe in our political system, it is flawed and in need of reform, as many things are, but I find this disdain for career politicians puzzling. You know Political Science is a major in college, right? You don’t say to a teacher “ugh these career teachers. I want someone new with no experience”. If you have brain surgery, do you want the neurosurgeon with 20 years of experience or the medical assistant doing your surgery? I fail to understand why a lifetime of public service is a bad thing. UPDATE: Let me clarify “career politician”, I support term limits. Politicians should move around, do different jobs, hold different offices, lobby for certain issues; they should not sit in a Senate seat for 40 plus years.

I believe that history has taught us a great many things and we should learn from it. We are not a perfect country and we have made many mistakes. We pat ourselves on the back for helping to end World War II,  bringing an end to Hitler’s reign and ending the Holocaust. We forget that we were forced in to that war. We forget that we were well aware of what was going on in Germany and chose to ignore it. It wasn’t until our hand was forced that we entered the war. And we ended that war with a catastrophic decision in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; 129,000 people died, mostly civilians. We like to forget about the 127,000 Japanese-Americans we shuttled from their homes to concentration camps because of fear they were loyal to Japan, most having been born here. Let us not allow irrational fear and hatred to guide us down these paths again.

I believe we are already great. “Make America great again” infers that the past is better than the future. That the old way was the right way and I respectfully disagree. Because I believe we are great and can only be greater when we work together. I have deep respect for Republicans and Democrats. Republicans once fought a great and important war to end slavery and preserve our union. We need a country of conservatives and liberals coming together for the betterment of our nation. Finding ways to make decisions that benefit the majority.

I believe in us. I believe in Her. I always have. I’ve believed in her since 1996, when I first read “It Takes A Village”. I believe that she is the right choice. I proudly cast my vote for her. I’m sorry if you do not agree with my choice, but it is mine.

“If you stand for nothing, Burr, what will you fall for?”