I’ve been trying to combat my feelings of anger, sadness, despair, and well, abject fear. My own personal beliefs tell me that I cannot overcome fear and anger, with more fear and anger. I know that to be true. And while fear can of course be a motivating factor, and does have its place in protecting us from danger, there’s also a cost to living in it all the time: An emotional cost and a physical cost. And that is what I am trying to overcome. Because the physical damage the stress of the current times can cause, is not something any of us should ignore. So, I look for balance, whenever I can.
When it comes to the upcoming election cycle, let’s face it there is a ton of fear and anger out there, on all sides. People are afraid – for good reasons and for some manufactured ones. That fear and anger is resulting in some very toxic, and in some cases, dangerous behavior. Fear is powerful force, yes. But you know what else is a powerful force? Hope! Because Hope is grounded in Love.
The most memorable and inspiring thing about President Obama’s first campaign was his message of Hope. It was simple and it resonated with people from all walks of life. It was genuine, and we all felt it. It raised us up. It was infectious. That Hope he spoke of inspired people to believe that the impossible, was possible. It reminded us as Americans that we, at our core, are a Hopeful nation. Because let’s face it, Hope is what gave birth to this entire crazy experiment called the United States of America.
And yet, so many of us are fearful in trying to choose the best candidate, the “perfect” candidate, in the Presidential primary, because of the shocking outcome of the last election. We are trying to find lightning in a bottle in one person, because that’s what we think we need. We are all looking for another “Obama-esque” type candidate, who will lead us out of the darkness. The truth is, a President Obama doesn’t come along every election cycle. But because he was the last Democratic President we elected; we cannot help compare his candidacy to the field we have today. And maybe we don’t have a candidate this time around who has his oratory skills to inspire people in the same way he did. But I assure you, we do have a field of candidates from which, any of whom would serve as honorably and effectively as President as he did, if elected.
But here’s the thing that I wanted to emphasize in writing this. And I think it’s something we have all forgotten about President Obama’s campaign and his message of Hope, or maybe we didn’t quite realize. Hope was never about him; it was about us! His message was “Yes We Can”, not “Yes I Can.” He inspired us to have Hope in ourselves, as much as, if not more, than in him.
Hope brought out the best in us. We were inspired to trust in OUR abilities to come together and bring about change. Hope inspired people to organize, to register people to vote, to talk to their neighbors and family members about what could be! “Hope and Change” was always about US, President Obama just helped us see it and believe in it – to believe in ourselves.
Our country is always at its best when we push forward. Forward is what moves us toward our quest for “a more perfect union,” not looking backwards to what we think America once was. Looking back to make anything, something “again”, is never rooted in Hope. The past is not Hopeful. We can look to the past for fond memories sure, and because it can teach us things … but there really is no Hope in the past. Hope is about the future!
So, if you are fearful about the possibility of people making a mistake in 2020, that’s okay. A little fear is a good thing. Fear to move out of the way of a charging animal or when a Mack truck is about to hit you, is a good thing. But, don’t let your fear prevent you from seeing the Hope that is in front of us too. Let’s not fear the past, let’s learn from it! And we have learned so much since 2016!
Truth be told, while there were certainly mistakes made, the structures that existed at that time were simply not prepared for, nor able, to combat everything that happened in 2016. It’s hard to combat that which you have never seen before. It’s also hard to combat that which you would never consider doing. It’s easy to just not recognize the depths of what had been happening for years before the election, if you simply would never imagine someone would do such a thing in the first place – Voter purging, gerrymandering, misinformation campaigns from foreign governments, etc., etc., etc. But guess what, we DO see it now. We’re more prepared this time – for all of it! People are awake and engaged. Millions of Americans have been shaken into realizing, that which we take for granted, is not a sure thing.
What’s changed since then? There are so many new organizations on the ground, that literally didn’t exist 4 years ago. New groups have sprung up across this country, and people are saying loud and clear … NOT ON MY WATCH! One Presidential campaign and one “party” organization was not able to fight on every front from which they we were being attacked. So, people said, what can I do? It’s not up to one person, or one group, to carry us out of this mess, it’s up to all of us! And we the people have stepped up!
People have been incredibly engaged since 2016, and not just around the top of the ticket. New groups have been and are to this day actively engaging with their elected officials; fighting voter suppression; reminding people to check their voter registrations, because of purges; actively registering and re-registering voters; donating money to candidates all across the country; running for office, up and down the ballot; combating gerrymandering; and the list goes on.
Here is just a small sampling of groups that are in place going into 2020, in addition to the traditional “party” apparatus, that weren’t in place for 2016:
- Fair Fight
- Let America Vote
- Swing Left
- Sister District Project
- National Democratic Redistricting Committee
- Run for Something
- March for Our Lives
- Changing the Conversation
- Postcards to Voters
And yes, even my little organization Take A Seat America is out there, doing our small part in the fight.
Democratic candidates are running for seats up and down the ballot in all 50 states, in Red and Blue districts alike, for the first time in a very long time. And they are winning! And winning in places where people said it couldn’t be done.
Need a little more Hope! Let’s look at what we have already done!
In 2018, together, Americans flipped more than 40 House seats in Congress, 7 Governorships, and over 300 state Legislative seats. This past November, together, people flipped Virginia and elected a new Democratic Governor in the state of Kentucky! Kentucky! There is absolutely no sign that we are about to take our foot of the gas pedal going into 2020!
We have incredible Senate candidates running across the country, who are poised to flip the Senate, in states like Arizona, Colorado, Maine, Kentucky, and South Carolina. Some incumbent Senators haven’t had a strong challenger … well, ever! But that’s not the case this time! Young people are registering to vote by the tens of thousands at high school and college campus registration drives all across the country.
Hope is out there! It really is!
So, the next time you find yourself afraid, afraid of the danger that will be coming at us, that’s ok. It’s ok to be afraid going into the election. Because what is at stake, is scary.
But also take heart in knowing that the front line is not the same front line that existed in 2016.
It’s been fortified by new troops, coming from huge alliances all across the country. We will not be outflanked from the sides or from the rear … or by any freakin’ foreign government who thinks they will take down our country! Oh, hell no! We are the United States of America!
None of this is going to be easy. But nothing worth fighting for, ever is.
And lastly, and this is really the most important thing I want you to leave here with. If you’re afraid that we may not have the “perfect” candidate to lead us to victory. Put that fear to rest right now. Because the truth is there is no perfect candidate. There never was. It’s not the candidate who leads us to victory, it’s us. It’s always been us!
Our destiny is in our own hands. So, let’s get to work.
Fear will no-doubt be running in 2020, but Hope is on the ballot too!
And my money is now, and always will be, on Hope!
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