Better to Light a Candle

How are you today? Are you celebrating the new administration? Are you sad about the exit of the former POTUS? Maybe you are like me, still reeling from the ugliness of the campaign season and just a bit numb to American politics in general. This election played out similar to the 2000 election when George W. Bush became the 43rd president. Similar to that year, I spent the day after the election in a fog of disbelief. In contrast, this year I listened to words of encouragement that helped me regain perspective.

Let’s be honest, in an election one side celebrates and plans their next steps while the other side packs up and figures how to regroup. That is the nature of an election. It’s just been a long time since I have thought about regrouping. A year prior to the election I was joking with Wife, telling her that we would move to her parents’ property in Mexico if Donald Trump won the election. I toyed with that idea the day after the election as I was listening to the preliminary results on our local public radio station, WBEZ. They were interviewing people who were sharing their plans for dealing with the upcoming four years. Productive plans, optimistic plans, plans that reaffirmed relationships, life and country. And in listening to those stories I thought of the famous quote, “It is better to light [a] candle than to curse the darkness.”

That sentiment was in so many of the stories I was listening to that day. People planning to renew their commitments to social justice. People planning to strengthen their relationships with friends and family. People planning to review their political involvement and figure how to get more knowledgeable, more active and more effective. It was not a collection of complaints or conspiracy theories,there was no more rehashing of ugly histories, there was no mud-slinging. The stories were lacking some of the hope that has been pervasive in the past eight years. But in the space it left there was determination. And I knew I would not talk any more about moving to another country to avoid this administration. This is my country, here are my people. The president does not change that.

So I lit my first candle that day after the elections. I went to the store and bought a replacement light to illuminate the American Flag that Micompadre flies outside the apartment. A small step, but I felt immediately better. Because you respect the country always; the flag we stand under, the land we stand on and the people we stand with, and you respect the government when it deserves it.

Our stars and stripes

Our stars and stripes

Welcome to the Machine

Today Cricket got a civics lesson. Like a 100-level, freshman year civics lesson. She went with me to early voting to cast my vote for the primaries (cue the excited crowd track). Voting is possibly the most basic way to participate in the political arena in our country. Tomorrow is the final day for early voting in Illinois for the Primary Elections, and I am not feeling like I want to deal with the lines on the 15th.

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Young politico

When I was in my 20’s I was much more politically outspoken than I am today. I think the back-to-back Bush (the second) administrations sucked the excitement out of my political activity. But I do exercise my right to vote. I think too many men and women have fought hard for our right to vote and all Americans should participate in this part of the political process. Does anyone else remember the MTV campaign “Rock the Vote”? Voting was cool – that’s what I’m talkin’ about.

Back in my 20’s I was left-of-center, and I voted with the Democratic Party because I didn’t have the conviction that the Green Party was a viable third party. These days I think I am more moderate, and really just want to enjoy some quality American life while not imposing ourselves on too many other nations. I want alternative energy to continue to become more accessible, but I also want cheap gas at the pump. I want a safe internet, but I don’t want the government to know my surfing habits. Obviously, I am all over the place.

So this is not meant to be propaganda. It’s more of a call-to-arms, particularly to my fellow Illinois residents. You have until tomorrow to vote early. Today there were no lines, and the machines were easy to use. It is quick. And if you decide to wait until the 15th, that’s fine too. But get out and vote.

Unfortunately, I don’t think my party is “best”, or that my candidate is “right”. I feel like I voted for the devil I know – that’s supposed to be better, right? I’m trying to rally my own political energy and believe in the system again. I have two little girls who need to learn how to maneuver in American Politics. So please join the process, help me find that motivation.

And get out and vote.

Honestly, I don’t even care which candidate people support. The turnout for the 2012 presidential election was 57% of the eligible population. Worse yet at 36.4 % for the 2014 midterm elections. Paltry. I’m growing tired of relying on our elected officials, especially with this elections offerings. So I am trying to take a more proactive approach and figure out what I can do to improve the situation. More acting and less complaining!

The first thing I came up with: get out and vote. Now go!

I think they give out stickers on the 15th

I think they give out stickers on the 15th