Good Morning America & Thank You #Obama #2012Election

Thank you for voting for the sane one. You may not have been utterly in love with Obama, but he is at least rational.  He does understand that running a country is not the same as running a company –  that your citizens are not simply assets or liabilities. Thank you for embracing plurality over exclusion. For opting for aspiration over self-interest.  For believing that difference doesn’t weaken a society, but makes it stronger and more resilient. Thank you for opting for education and science and culture and the innate dignity of labor over dogmatic jingoism, ruthless ambition and religious fundamentalism.

It is incredibly good to know that, in your country of broad and rich diversity, a party that represents a single race could not take power.  It’s good to know that 55% of American women understood the dire implications of a group of white men who wanted to relieve you of the burden of having control over your own body. It’s a relief to know that you won’t be starting a new war with Iran any time soon. It’s comforting to know that you care about love and the real sanctity of family more than you care about the sexual orientation or the genders of those lovers or those family members. That it is not a matter of WHAT we are, but HOW we are.  It’s good that you don’t believe we should blithely send the most disenfranchised portion of the population off to foreign wars and then not foot the bill for what those wars do to them. It’s gratifying to know that the richest country on earth believes it has an obligation to make sure everyone, no matter how poor, has access to decent medical care and education.

But…

It’s important to realize that 45% of American women voted against their own interests and the basic fiscal health of their families. And somehow those women were deaf to the rational arguments that pleaded for them to stand up for their reproductive rights. They were willing to relinquish them in exchange for the emotional sanctuary of an illusory stability. Every woman has the right to decide for themselves. But they were willing to give that decision over, not just for themselves, but for all other women, to people without wombs, driven by rigid religious ideology and a delight in having power over the choices of others.

We have an obligation to communicate the sanctity of choice to these women. We must find a way to persuade them that personal decision-making may be frightening, but an absence of choice is far, far worse.

It’s important also to realize that 52% of men do not trust women enough to make their own decisions. 52% of American men embraced a party that was willing to write off 47% of the population. This speaks to a deep level of self-interest to the exclusion of the welfare of others: in terms of their prosperity, their medical care, their children. 52% of American men were willing to embrace a party that saw no place for people of colour, gays and lesbians, non-Christians. In order, one imagines, to grab their own little piece of a very limited pie and buy into the mythical lottery of the 1%. And it was, more predominantly, the poorest of white men who voted this way. How could they see more of themselves in the Mitt Romney than in a President who, over and over again, stressed his support for equal opportunity?

It is a measure of a deep seated fear of standing on the shifting sands of an uncertain world. And that fear is so deep, they would rather embrace a racist, elitist, puritanical illusion of the quaint past than face the reality of a volatile future, because they simply don’t believe they have the resilience or skills to navigate it. They feel exhausted and embattled and it takes less energy to stick with conservative authoritarianism than to embrace hope and idealism.

You have an obligation to teach your young men that responsibility doesn’t end at their front door. That the worth of a man is not measured in his bank balance or his material possessions, but in the openness of his heart. That the only thing that renders you irrelevant is standing still, and digging a delusional hole embodying some quaint and entirely inaccurate romance of an older, simpler world. You need to teach them the art of dancing on shifting sands and to learn the joy of it, the delight of meeting the new, the life-enriching experience of confronting the unfamiliar and the different. Social change can be frightening, but it is inevitable. Stand still and it will run you over.

The world cannot afford a frightened, unengaged, bigoted America. It desperately needs a shining example of democracy, inclusiveness, innovation, emancipation, egalitarianism, humanism. Because the alternative is China. And that is a country grown rich on the back of the desperate misery of many millions. That is a machine that chews up and spits out its own in a way no self-identified capitalist system ever has. I may not be a huge supporter of capitalist systems, but I am honest enough to acknowledge that if I have to make a choice between the American system and the Chinese one, I will pick the former over the latter every time. I’ve seen both, close up.

We need you, America. We need you to be strong and wise. We need you to love your freedom. We need you to remember your origins without being trapped by a nostalgia for a past that never was.  In your inception, the seeds of a truly noble way of being human were planted.

Don’t dig up the orchard. Celebrate its growth.

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