I have a strong dislike for politics.
Honestly, I always feel uneasy when I have to navigate the unpredictable waters of seemingly “qualified” candidates in an election year. With the name-calling and trash-talking that happens between the leading candidates, I grow quickly fatigued. This year is different and all I can say is wow. No one could have predicted our current shit-show of a year, but I saw the signs and I know I’m not the only one.
I am a strong believer that our leaders, and leadership, should reflect a world that offers the best representation of everyone. As a citizen, and as a member of a minority community, we should be able to hear our voices amplified when our leaders speak. This doesn’t mean that I (we) have to agree with every policy or plan of a particular institution or administration, but the actions of the person or persons in-charge, should be implementing governance for the greater good of the people and not to improve the lives and wellbeing of himself/herself (and family), a select population (White), campaign contributors, or corporations.
I guess I am an idealist at heart. I am a person that believes our leaders should be, or at least appear, to strive to be better people themselves. Leadership is perhaps too huge a responsibility to be placed on the shoulders of an (s)elected few. I also feel that there is a fine line with those we put into positions of power, especially when those individuals are predisposed to having a “God Complex” (folks who feel a great sense of self-importance, entitlement, a deep need for admiration from others). In promoting those in positions of power, if anyone challenges their word or bruises their ego, the one(s) that caused the opposition will suffer the wrath of the deity-wanna-be. Their word when spoken is law, and whether it is implicitly delivered or not, there are followers who will carry out the deity-wanna-be’s actions.
I pride myself for not being a person with a flock mentality. I like going with the flow about where I want to eat and what, but when it comes to politics, I educate myself on the issues and the leaders I want to support. I’m interested in how they have treated people, what their social engagement looks like to get an understanding of how they arrived at where they are today in life. I don’t want to support a person who makes fun of a person’s disability, denigrates women, or calls members of the military losers when they themselves lacked the courage to serve. I guess you could say confidence to serve is often spurred by a person’s willingness to help when called to do so.
I want our leaders to guide and empower me to be the best citizen I can be. No, let me rephrase that, I (we) deserve a leader that compels me to follow them as an example. Not a leader who uses race to stoke fear in the fragile minds to believe that anyone that doesn’t look like them, worship the way they do, or protest the way they do, is a threat to their livelihood. I’m not looking for a virtuous saint to guide us to a prosperous future, but a leader who is committed to improving the lives for everyone no matter the political affiliation, and not be bridled in a storm of ethical and moral turbulence. Our own experiences can shelter us from situations of the real world to the point where leaders (supporters too) can’t or won’t see how their lives have been one of privilege and hide behind the shield of denial. For example, the inability to acknowledge that “Black Lives Matter”, or saying armed militias rolling into Democratic ruled cities are “Great Patriots”, or refute the existence of racism in law enforcement.
Denial can be a dangerous thing to any group that feels or is underserved and underrepresented. I expect a leader to own their history as a point of reflection and growth and not deny it. Just because it doesn’t happen to them, they can’t accept it as being something real. There is so much at stake for people who look like me, for LGBTQI people, for BIPOC people, for women, and for seniors. Right now, there is so much suffering and despair happening for so many due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, there are those who believe that the compliance of scientific evidence to limit the spread of the virus doesn’t apply to them. They believe that they have the right not to comply with mandates because it is too intrusive of their personal space. When our leader(s) don’t want to take it seriously, why should anyone else right?
The hood of leadership is real. This is really a time when we need to unite America and not further divide it. When a leader intentionally cancels “diversity training” the very tools used to help recognize racism, discrimination, combat bias and prejudice (in its various forms), everyone should be taking notice. Labelling diversity training as “Un-American Propaganda” in my opinion confirms the leader who was elected almost four years ago, is deliberately undermining and erasing a legacy of civil rights gains and creating a scar on democracy. A scar that was never directly inflicted, but many of us are constantly reminded of when we look in the mirror.
We rely on our leaders to be a comforting voice when times appear uncertain and unstable. A clear voice that will inform people to make temporary sacrifices in our personal comfort in order to stop a virus, and a voice that acknowledges systemic racism exists. Most importantly, I want a leader who will make me feel proud of the country where I live and not feel like an embarrassment when I travel abroad.
#BlackLivesMatter #RIPJohnLewis #Vote2020