After this, you may say I’m naive. Doesn’t matter what your party affiliation, many think our Nation is more divided under President Obama.
But I think the elevated tone of our debates, the more people involved in them, is a part of the change people voted for and didn’t fully embrace what that would mean.
Overall, these debates are a change for the better, because the more people involved, the faster we move toward being a more Perfect Union.
CHANGE happened in 2008, when the largest percentage of voters since 1968 voted. A majority voted for Barack Obama because he painted a picture for them that meant change.
They were wise but perhaps naive to think change would be easy. It isn’t. His last State of the Union address demonstrates that change did happen. Those who voted for him should take a victory lap and then find ways to stay engaged to make sure the country after he leaves office continues to move forward.
His leadership fulfilled a promise of change. He has kept the country as best he could from war, and ushered in a new era of inclusion with gay marriage and universal health care.
But change doesn’t come without challenges. We are divided on some hard issues. And confronted in the Middle East by a different type of enemy.
Mass murders, guns and the definition of the 2nd Amendment are part of our national debate. And so are terrorists and how we address those purporting that religion is the foundation of their attacks on American freedom.
Police officers are killing innocent people. But in our union, advocates for guns, gun control, and #BlackLivesMatter are courageously and effectively making this part of the national conversation.
People of all races, religions and presidential candidates are making these issues part of their discussions. Some promote hate and insecurity. Others are more compassionate in their approach. Both can educate us.
Like there are two sides to a coin, there are at least two sides to a debate. Depending on what side you are on, or even from outside will make us look divided. Just as Obama’s presidency is about change, his legacy is tied to how many more people he brought people out of the shadows to the national conversation. With more people, come more issues.
That’s why young Black people were able to make the #BlackLivesMatter movement relevant. Just as young people are joining the larger community in the immigration conversation.
They are making immigration a hot issue on the campaign trail. And why we are closer to bringing millions more out of the shadows to a clearer path to citizenship. That’s a byproduct of change.
I am not naïve. We are becoming a more perfect Union. Perfection will never be achieved if we don’t embrace and learn from our history of differences. Slavery, women’s rights, segregation and civil rights were difficult struggles for change that over time happened and at times, nearly ripped our nation apart. But the nation survived.
We were strong enough to compel the nation to change and see they were on the wrong side of history. If we weren’t, Obama would never have become President. That’s why we are closer than ever before of becoming a nation, of all the people, by all the people, and for all the people.
Whether it’s immigration, #BlackLivesMatter, police brutality or guns, the most important thing is to raise our voice, enter the debate, let our voices be heard and VOTE! What we saw in 2008 faltered in 2012, when there was a 7% drop in the number of people who voted.
Change happened in 2008, because the country excited for change, debated and voted. The debates are the issues of our day. Most importantly, the results impact us directly and/or indirectly.
Like sports, there is a winner and a loser. That can divide us, but we move on. The difference between sports and politics is most of us cannot play on the sports teams we cheer for. And we cannot vote for or pick the players on the team. But in politics, you have a vote in selecting the players on the team and the outcome of the game.
So call me naive. But our debates and freedom to choose, make us better, because we can be in the game. We just have to choose to play!
More importantly, our right to vote secured by those before us, move generations closer to the ideal of being a more perfect union. If we stay engaged, get in the game and vote, we can move this country to embrace the issues and values of the majority, not the few.
Our President has been in the game. He’s in the last minutes of the final quarter. He’s done a lot for all Americans, not just the ones who voted in 2008. That is the power of America. We can vote collectively for the best interest of the country or a small segment of the society. If everyone votes, it is harder for the smaller segment to win.
With the majority of Americans behind him, he withstood challenges from Congress and a government shutdown. Now unemployment is the lowest since the 90’s, the stock market is strong and the economy moving in the right direction.
I am proud when our President says with conviction “the State of our Union is strong!” Because despite the division and elevated tone of our debates, he is right!
The State of our Union is strong and will be stronger if we stay engaged and everyone VOTES!