Your Vision For America

Now that the party conventions are behind us, the campaigns for president will go into overdrive. We'll be inundated with Super PAC-funded ads that distort the candidates' records, offer platitudes instead of information, and do their best to appeal to our instincts rather than our intellects. We'll watch the candidates debate, and if we're exceptionally clear-headed, we'll have our own ideas about these debates before we find ourselves believing what the pundits tell us about them.

While the last presidential election was a critical turning point for our nation, I believe that the one coming up may be the most important election of our time. The platforms of the candidate couldn't be more extreme, offering two distinctive paths, and the past four years have been a sad example of politics over purpose. We have reached a divide within the road and we are being asked what path we will choose. One path offers policies that empower women, include the LGBT community as full citizens, and rebuilds the economy by asking everyone to do their fair share. The other path includes voter suppression, tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, and ending health care reform. But as we consider which path to follow, we must remember that we needn't just accept having the president's vision for our nation bestowed upon us. As citizens, we wield political power, and it is as important to know our own vision for this nation as it for us to know the president's. As we become more aware, our participation is more valuable.

In my book, Open Your American Heart: From Personal Responsibility to Collective Accountability, I offer readers a clear blueprint for uncovering their vision for their lives and the life of this nation. It's time we begin living our lives with the understanding that what we do for ourselves is intrinsically connected to the progress of other citizens and this nation. Many of us are so bogged down with daily living that we rarely take the time to consider our importance to the whole. Just as we play important and significant roles in our families, the lives of our friends, and within our communities, so are we connected to and impacting the greater community that is the United States. Your vision for yourself and for our nation is vital to the well-being of each of us. What you do individually -- your successes, struggles, and choices -- matters.

I have a vision that America will become a nation that offers equal rights to the LGBT community. It matters to me that all citizens are granted the same constitutional freedoms. I also have a vision that women all over this nation would be able to make decisions about their bodies without being restricted by the state. Lastly, I have a vision for our nation where elected officials are beholden to the people who elect them and not to special interests. None of my visions will likely be fulfilled overnight, but it is my responsibility to become the citizen I need to be in order to facilitate change. I cannot wait on politicians to do the job alone. My participation matters as does yours.

With this in mind, take a moment and consider what your vision for this nation is. Ask yourself about each of the main issues that the candidates are discussing. Many people believe that the economy is the most pressing concern for Americans -- what is your vision for the economy? Yes, job creation would be the most obvious answer, but what do you believe are the best methods to go about creating those jobs? Do you see more jobs flowing from expanded corporate power? Do you see more jobs flowing from an economy where government and business are working together? What is your vision for our educational system? Do you see a system that is accessible to all young people, regardless of their family's income or citizenship? What do you vision, not just for your children, but for all of the children in America? What is your vision for the future of energy? Do you see a country becoming more reliant on its own energy resources? Do you think that renewable energy sources are being pursued with enough vigor?

When your vision becomes clear the next step would be to decide what candidate's vision is more closely aligned to your own in order to make your choice. Finally, and perhaps more importantly, ask yourself, "What I am willing to become to fulfill this vision?"