This past week’s elections played out as they typically do. The party out of power picked up congressional seats. Media stars were born. Political careers were ended. Life goes on. And while politicos will spin the outcomes and pundits will predict the implications, the realty is voters chose one party-backed candidate or another as the electorate polarized on Election Day. The two-party system – a peculiarly American phenomenon – in action.
“…and you will find while in the wind something that you lost…the dream was never over…the dream was only lost…” -Stevie Nicks
I was driving back to DC on election night, listening to the results as they came across the radio airwaves from Boston, Manhattan, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and finally, our nation’s capital. It was obvious from the low voter turnout that business as usual will continue. Incumbents…even those with outrageously ineffective track records…were returned to office, even as new faces proclaimed a mandate for change in their victory speeches. But there’s no sign anything is going to change.
I drove along thinking about those who vote along party lines and what they were voting for. Hopefully not for the simple-minded good versus evil posturing both parties use in their campaign ads. Regardless of our politics, we’re all still Americans. Hopefully not some gullible belief that any one candidate is going to create change. Well-meaning newcomers are consumed by the system they promise to reform every election.
True believers vote for mythology: heavily ingrained, overly-simplified, status-quo-supporting mythology. In the one camp, government is the answer. In the other, business. And these competing camps conveniently juxtapose themselves against one another, to force artificial choices. It works in political terms, but two polarizing parties cannot address all the opportunities and challenges in an increasingly complex world.
“People have the power – the power to dream…to rule…to wrestle the world from fools…it’s decreed the people rule…” -Patti Smith
Is government the answer? No. Where is the human factor in government bureaucracy? Is business the answer? Of course not. Where is the human factor in business bottom lines? But in a system where being politically independent is more of a personal statement than a way to effect change, there aren’t a lot of alternatives.
Younger voters aren’t interested in simplistic explanations that limit their options. In an age of individualization and personalization, they are more nuanced and sophisticated in their thinking. And therein lies my hope for change. They dream anew…writing a new narrative.
This dream is not about huge upheavals or the dismantling of what currently exists. It’s the hope in quietly, purposefully making choices that create consensus and generate practical solutions. No polarizing of well-intentioned people along fabricated fault lines. Just open, honest exploration of everything that is possible.
For the first time in my lifetime, we are shedding the paradigm of limitations spawned by the Great Depression. It’s wonderful to see the human spirit unfettered from the the fears of our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents. And this gives me hope, because I want my legacy to connect to something bigger than our shortcomings and limitations. Don’t you?
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will live as one.” -John Lennon