To my kids,
I’m sorry! I’m sorry that this is your first experience as siblings at an age old enough to be a part of the political process. I want you to know, this is not what democracy looks like. This is not how leaders should lead. This is not what our forefathers had in mind when then they envisioned a more perfect union. Please, I beg of you, don’t retreat into apathy, don’t become disheartened or disinterested. Instead, take action, ownership, and accountability.
Don’t look at this election as if we, as a nation, are standing on the precipice of despair. Rather, consider this our springboard into the future. I recognize that mom and I, at this stage of your lives, are merely in the role of advisors. With that in mind, there are three things I strongly encourage you to consider.
1: Exert your influence
There is no doubt that we need to get money out of politics and release the stranglehold of influence the special interests have on our elected officials. But, that will take time, and time is what we can’t afford. There is a path forward. We need to exert voter influence. Get to know your representatives at the local, state and national level. Communicate with them regularly, get in front of them when possible. Share your thoughts, highlight our challenges and most importantly, bring them solutions they can advance. Hold them accountable, and let them know that you will.
2: Focus on our similarities
As a family, we stood together on the grounds of Auschwitz. A place where 1.1 million people were exterminated. I know that affected you all. You felt the pain, you questioned the depravity, you searched for answers. The holocaust was an extreme example of the destructive power of differences. When as individuals or as a society we focus on the differences between ourselves and another, we open Pandora’s box. It is differences that create an "us" and a "them". Differences embolden one while they diminish another. Differences create villains and avengers. This election has been all about differences. Those running are using our differences to divide us, to anger us and to scare us. Don’t get sucked in. Instead, look at life through the lens of our similarities. We are not that different.
3: Make a difference
It is easy to complain, to be a victim, or to accept that things are just going to be the way they are. But, by doing that, you become part of the problem. Things only get better when you take action. Don’t stay on the sidelines. Become part of the solution. Find a cause that speaks to you and lean in. Learn about the problem, identify how you can help. Get involved and use your talents. What will surprise you are the gifts you will receive in return.
This election and the vitriol that has accompanied it every step of the way is enough to make even the most seasoned voter retreat. If we do that, they have won, and this will be what all future elections look like. I don’t want that to be your future, our future. The only way forward is through action and ownership. We have the right, the privilege and the obligation to take part in our democracy. Please, exert your influence, focus on our similarities and go make a difference.