Sunday, November 6, 2016

Chill out - we Americans will do the right thing

We hope. Here are two essays meant to blunt the words of war and lift us out of our weariness of constant election news.

Leslie Salzillo (Daily Kos) reposts Dan Rather’s article of faith: ‘I believe that we as a nation will make the right decisions’:

I’ll just move aside and let Mr. Rather do the talking. He posted this on his Facebook page six days ago, but the words are capable of calming the masses for many elections to come.

Here is the Kos repost from Rather’s Facebook post.

He begins with some advice: “Please do not forget to breathe.”

I understand that these final days of this unprecedented election season are sending many of us into a frenzy. The latest news of the Clinton emails takes what already felt like a hurricane of insanity and pushes it into unprecedented territory. The violence and variance of the political winds cuts our nation to its core. The stakes are so high. The uncertainty so untenable. We wonder and we worry. We refresh our social media feeds and favorite news sources by the minute looking for affirmation of our hopes or amplification of our fears. There is always more information - always more spin. And the latest news cycle and ricocheting polls only exacerbate the anxiety.

In recent days I have made a habit of putting my phone away, stepping outside and inhaling deeply. I have sought out walks with loved ones and friends, preferably in a setting with lots of trees. I have a preference for strong, old oaks. My work travels recently took me to my childhood neighborhood in Houston and I saw the trees of my youth. They have lived through so much tumult, and so have I. They have survived and grown. And so have I. So will I. So will we. So will our country.

I have a deep belief that most of my fellow countrymen and women are good, decent, hardworking people - that they go to bed each night with similar prayers for their family, even if they pray in different faiths (or no faith), even if their words are in English or one of the countless languages spoken in American homes. I believe that we as a nation will make the right decisions in our long and imperfect march towards justice. But I believe it is a journey that requires work and sacrifice, from all of us.

These are broad thoughts, bigger than any news cycle or even election cycle. I read them in the words of Washington and Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. I see them in our streets and museums. And I am constantly refueled by the cleansing air of America’s natural splendor. As I stroll along I am reminded of Woody Guthrie’s anthem of inclusion - “This land is your land, this land is my land.” This land is our land. I choose to make it so.

God knows, I love seeing this man back again in today’s media. He’s like a favorite respected and trusted professor, whom you’ve reunited with on Facebook, that you get to visit for news of the day and wisdom. We need more like him, though there’s no one, and never will be anyone, quite like Dan Rather.


So what is the “right decision”?

Kathleen Parker (Washington Post) advises us to Calm down. We’ll be fine no matter who wins. Here’s some of her rationale.

If Trump wins, he’ll be held more or less in check by the House and Senate because that’s the way our system of government is set up. Not even Republicans are eager to follow Trump’s lead.

There won’t be a wall. He won’t impose any religion-based immigration restrictions, because even Trump isn’t that lame-brained. He’ll dress up and behave at state dinners and be funny when called upon. He’ll even invite the media to the White House holiday party. He won’t nuke Iran for rude gestures. He won’t assault women. He and Vladimir Putin will hate each other, respectfully.

If Hillary Clinton wins, she’s not going to suddenly become a lunatic. As a senator, she worked across the aisle and earned the admiration of her colleagues. She’ll manage the military because she, like Trump, honors the troops and they know it. She’ll make sure her Supreme Court appointments will protect Roe v. Wade, but otherwise, the jury’s always out. Justice David Souter, now retired, and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. both demonstrated the box-of-chocolates rule: You never know (exactly) what you’ll get.

The same, alas, can be said about both Clinton and Trump. Whatever they’ve projected or promised won’t be reflected in the reality of the presidency. It never is. Whatever they may wish to be, the president is only one-third of the equation — granted, with an armed force.

Parker closes by reminding us of the Gloria Gaynor song, “I will survive.”

To be sure, America will survive. The question is in what form and led by whom.

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