A friend of mine just said, why don't you come up with an idea as to how we can create change instead of just saying where we went wrong.
Alright, valid point. Here's an oldie but goodie that went ignored:
I have had the privilege to tour this great country along with Willie Nelson and Family for a year and a half now. I've been to dozens of small towns during this election process. Small towns in red states, along with a country music band (that matters in the context of meeting folks). Country festivals. Places where most vote republican. I have met many people. I didn't just talk to these people, I listened.
They were good, decent, hard working people, many drove nice cars and owned homes--they were educated and had strong and solid opinions. They came from all walks of life. Shopkeepers worried about their small businesses closing, housekeeping staff at hotels, concert goers and small vendors. You name it, I've met them. After speaking, I realized that we had much more in common than differences. We all loved our country. We all wanted to put food on the table and be able to get affordable medical care when sick, we took care of our neighbors and wanted safe communities. We felt that police shootings were wrong, both when an unarmed African American was shot or killed and also when a police officer was killed at point blank range for no reason. We care about life and the quality of it, for ourselves... and for our children.
Some topics we differed on, like abortion or marriage equality. But in the end, when you really talk, most of us ended up agreeing on not imposing one's personal or religious beliefs on another. I did my best to just inform and respect their opinions.
I do not believe that this election was won on racism. I do not believe that this election was won on bigotry or hate. I will say that those things were a serious factor. It is there. It exists and is alive and well, now more than ever. At least we truly know exactly where we stand as a nation now, and how much more work needs to be done.
But that wasn't the voice of every person who voted for Trump. I know many decent people who did. They are not racists. They don't hate Jews or grab women inappropriately. They, in fact, were disgusted by all of that. They voted for him anyway, because they simply did not want the alternative, and we lost. Fair and square. I am still licking my own wounds and comforting my eight year old daughter.
The day after, I cried. However, now...I feel a renewed sense of optimism. I feel like we have a fresh start. There will be dark days to come; it is inevitable. But to rebuild, we must first own up to what didn't work, and focus on rebuilding a new kind of grassroots movement. A grassroots movement that grows strong green grass across the entire country, not just areas that liberals like.
What I learned most about the people I met while traveling in these towns, was that the space where we differed in many cases wasn't that big.
So I had suggested, to some people on the left in positions of power: why not reach out, and instead of taking our messaging to NetRoots Nation or patting ourselves on the backs at conferences where the converted are the audience...why not try taking that message into Kentucky? Or for heavens sake, Tennessee, the land of Al Gore.
These are not the racist unwashed masses...they are, by and large, decent American people, with minds and logic, and they vote. Our country elected our first black president, Barack Hussein Obama...twice. The "hate" argument, while very divisive and helps fuel anger and more hate...simply does not hold for an entire nation-not even half of it.
I urged our "leaders" to meet some new people, talk to them, but please don't go in and preach. These folks can spot a "missionary" from a thousand miles away and if you're inauthentic, you won't get anywhere but shown the door.
Just listen. Listen to what they're worried about. Then see how that fits into what we're worried about too.
Try to connect, not as politicians or wonks with an agenda, but as parents. As students with debt. As unemployed families who had worked their whole lives and now found themselves without jobs. As people who share a love of the same music. As Americans.
Our grassroots movement needs to start not by screaming and yelling about who "isn't our president", because, he actually is...unless you move. We should start grassroots building in places where we don't have any grass, and haven't cared enough to ask if we can plant a few seeds on common ground--unless we needed them for something. Like a vote.
A circle of friendship and unity? We're past that. For now. It's sweet but unrealistic, people are emotional and angry.
If we are to actually organize, we need to listen to each other more. Not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans; then have a good look at the map, and see where we can start planting.
I said this well over a year ago to the people who could make it happen. Maybe now someone will listen, shelve their egos, and humbly listen to the other half of the country.
Only then, will any of this ever change. If we keep doing what we're doing, we are going to keep getting what we're getting, or worse...the fantasies of a revolution, well, revolutions aren't that romantic nor are they a Beatles song. They are bloody and people die.
Let us use our minds, before everyone starts reaching for weapons-of any kind.
We are better than that.
We are Americans. We have survived many hardships, and now, we have been given the opportunity to rebuild a stronger foundation, and come right back. Stronger this time, like rebuilding after a storm...but not with the same tired old game plan from the dog-eared playbook that politicians and those who strategize around them have been using.
This has to come from YOU.
Don't listen to "politicians".
Don't listen to "political experts"
Don't listen to the media.
Heck, don't even listen to me.
Listen to your heart, and your neighbors, and your kids.
Let your own mind guide you.
Refuse to let hate in. Fight against it...and let's put this plan into motion.
Hoping the rest of the country invites a fellow American in for a cup of coffee and an exchange of ideas in the upcoming years...it is the only hope we have.