We’re a year away from the next US presidential election and already there is universal desperation for change in this country, and through this country, the impetus for a better world. Judging from the broad spectrum of candidates who’ve thrown their hat into the ring, no doubt change is what we’ll get. The question for all Americans is: how drastically do you want things to change, and in which direction? And the only question all Americans must answer is, will you participate in the process of creating change, or will you sit this one out?
If you’re an American, the 2008 race may well be the election of your life. Don’t sit it out. Here is why:
If you are age eighteen to twenty-five, your head is spinning, wondering what happened to the America you hear older people reminisce about or of which you read in books. That America has not been your America. Since you were a child you’ve lived in a country increasingly party-divided, a country now coming off the closest two presidential elections in its recent history, which sequentially turned-out the highest voting populations ever. Not to mention, you were introduced to the political system via the 2000 Presidential election fiasco, likely making you wonder whether your country is not just as corrupt as some archetypal Latin American dictatorship south of the border, one we’ve historically been eager to overthrow. Furthermore, the bombardment of messages, technology, media hype, and digital devices that you have never known life to be without makes it nearly impossible to pay attention to anything, or believe what you do absorb. Yet you have unique ways of tuning in via the Internet, social media, and virtual group collaboration. You have the cynicism of youth on your side to improve your power of discernment. Now in your twenties, you have an opportunity to make your adult voice heard for, perhaps, the first time. Please use it.
If you’re thirty-ish or forty-ish, born in but too late to partake in the free-love-partying and political-rallying of the sixties and seventies, you’re still old enough to remember a bucolic, likely suburban upbringing when only one of your parents worked to provide a comfortable family life. A time before microwaves, cell-phones, the Internet and digital-everything, your childhood was filled with freedom; freedom from online pedophiles, freedom from overdeveloped land, freedom from terrorist attacks, and even the simple freedom of your mother not knowing where you rode your bike and hung out after school. You’ve witnessed, lived through, and somehow adapted to drastically-accelerating change in your country and the world at large in a relatively short period of time. This has given many of you a global mindset and desire to move away from the post-World War II capitalist, survivalist American Dream race of achievement toward something truer, better, but not necessarily bigger. You see how we politically came to be where we are in America, and may have seen enough of the world to realize it doesn’t have to be this way. You are in your prime, you carry economic clout, and you hold leadership positions. Now is your time to step up and be involved. Please do so.
If you are a baby-boomer, in your fifties or early sixties, the present state of our union should feel not only painfully familiar, but frightening. You are no stranger to revolution, to change, or to confronting the establishment. Even if you weren’t politically active during the Kennedy, Eisenhower, and Nixon years, you are definitely old enough to remember the lessons of those times and you have no excuse for not doing so. Many of you, the progeny of early twentieth-century immigrants to the US, through your courage managed to mold equal opportunity for and abolish injustice against minorities. Through your heritage and your diversity you’ve contributed to the multi-cultural, multi-racial mix that is America now. You are the most numerous and wealthy generation this nation has ever seen. Your ballast can sink or stabilize this ship. Please, if you have not done so already, get on board and help us steer it in the right direction.
And last but not least, if you are a veritable senior citizen, age seventy-five or older, well you’ve just about seen it all, haven’t you? You’ve seen how governments, a world, a universe, can give and take life. You have the long-term view of where we’ve been as a country, and you possess the wisdom of experience that can guide us toward where we’re going. You’ve been around enough to have lived the adage that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. You may be angry, you may be frightened, you may be resigned, you may be ill and infirm, or you may simply be old and tired. But YOU ARE STILL HERE. And we need you; all of you, to stay involved in preserving the America – not the government, not the politics—but the ideal, that so many of your generation fought and lost its lives for. Please don’t leave the ring yet, stay in and keep fighting the good fight. The rest of us promise to cheer you on.
It’s not just that the presidential choices for 2008 are more diverse than ever before, it’s that the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been in most Americans’ lifetimes. With global warming, an energy crisis and bio-terrorism looming over our heads, we’re talking about our very survival as a species. The nuclear Armageddon fears of the past—whether the Russians or North Koreans will get jacked up enough to start World War III—pale in comparison to whether humans can survive a planetary climate or pole shift. We’re talking about things that may be beyond our control to change or reverse. Now is the time for unity, not division. The whole system needs to change if we’re going to make it, as a country AND as citizens of the world. We want someone to show us the way, not the old way, not the same way, but a new way.
Is there such a person? Of course there is, and likely more than one. But you won’t be able to discern who if you don’t even know the line-up. And you won’t be able to chose your future if you don’t get in the game. The time is long overdue to break from a re-run of the past. In evaluating who can lead America to a new future, don’t just vote for the new faces you haven’t seen in the race before. Don’t let gender, color, religions, looks or age distract you from the substance or lack thereof underneath. Search for courage, search for independence, search for the candidates willing to cross party lines to do what’s right. Search for rules being broken because they need to be. Know the issues and judge your candidates on where they stand. And vote your conscience; vote your heart, not simply your party affiliation. But most of all, vote! Vote this time around especially in the primaries as well as the general election. After all, 2008 may well be the election of your life.