The last few years have shown American democracy to be much more fragile than many could have imagined, with public trust in institutions and our fellow citizens tested and – in some cases – waning.
Many have suggested the country is beyond hope, with legislative bodies locked in stalemate and some sworn to tearing down anything suggested or built by colleagues across the aisle. I believe, however, that rather than finding ourselves on the verge of what many have predicted would be a civil war we are actually in the process of finding ourselves again, of establishing our goals for what we envision America to be, and that many among us are working to get us all there.
With all the welcome celebration and sense of newfound direction this weekend I have felt a joyous return to what we value as citizens. I do not attribute this to any particular candidate or party, but to our desires and wishes as Americans as our joy over the rejection of a would-be tyrant is in fact on display. Americans are saying loud and clear what’s important to them, that they reject the manipulations of entities attempting to hijack their country and their desire to participate in a global effort to make things better for all.
Not only are we looking to reestablish the practice of democracy we are looking for a better democracy – and we’re willing to work to get it.
We’ve got to listen to fellow citizens differently – finding ways to respect and argue better in hope of finding common ground and strengthening our binding democracy. I’m hoping we can find a way to explore new ideas and methods – from a year of national service, investing in our infrastructure, taking better care of our oceans and threatened national parks, addressing issues pertaining to health care, education and human rights.
These are not just talking points for political candidates. They are essential issues critical to our continuation as a species, as a country, and as a democracy.
The U.S. presidential race is over. But the debate over our collective future is just beginning. It needs to be creative and constructive. And it needs to happen soon.
William B. Trask/ Walnut Creek