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It may not be apparent, but my art project is all about connecting us as humans. My gift is to focus on the hidden roots in the basement of our thought in order to allow for more connection than rational discourse allows. However, there comes a time when I must come upstairs to speak our everyday language. Now is one of those times.

This post is a collection of posts I made on FaceBook prior to today, election day 2020. No matter the outcome of the election and the events that may follow, you and I have a chance to empower democracy simply in the way we regard one another. And that is the core of my message below.


Before I get to the heart of my message, I must note that one concept that has no useful place in our democracy is white supremacy. This nation never has been a white nation. It was built by the labor of black and brown people just as much as it was built by the labor of white people. It was built by white people who held no power as much as it was built by white people who held power. It was built by peoples whose descendents, generationally, have been abused and targeted with social and violent disdain.

This generational abuse was made possible by dividing the unification that occurred throughout the history of this country between poor whites and poor people of color. White supremacy was a weapon used against poor white people as well as against people of color, used to divest them of their allies.

Furthermore, the United States was built on land that was taken from people who had created well-established civilizations thoughout the “New World”. It was built by nearly exterminating numerous peoples whose progeny are now US citizens and have had to live in a twisted story which denied their lived histories and cultural wisdoms.

If we wish to unify, we must recognize that US Americans are ALL of US, the United States has no grounding without ALL of US. The United States does not exist without ALL of US.

In large part, President Trump won because he was able to capitalize on the unaddressed damage caused in this country by the (largely unintentional) arrogance and narrow-mindedness of intellectual urban elites. Their pride, to the point of conceit, had marginalized several different populations in this nation. Their dismissive attitudes toward uneducated; toward working class people; toward rural people; toward “America’s poor whites”; and toward religious believers, especially Christian, enabled Trump to sweep up a majority of them and transform them into his swing vote.

President Trump is the complete opposite of an uneducated person, a working class person, a rural person, a poor white person, a truly faithful religious person and yet he was able to sweep so many into his base because he HEARD them; he RECOGNIZED them; he UNDERSTOOD their experience of neglect; he SPOKE to them; and he SPOKE FOR them. Every jab and cheap shot Trump has taken at intellectuals, scientists, and party-politicians has felt incredibly satisfying to so many US Americans, regardless of their party affiliation, who had been neglected and belittled by the language, biases, and assumptions of the middle to upper educated urban classes.

If a vote for Joe Biden is to be believed to be a vote for a unified nation, then everyone who supports and promotes Biden must recognize their own arrogance and dismissive attitudes toward other US Americans who live in a different world than they do, are surrounded by different assumptions than they have, and frame concerns for this country in a different manner than they do.

I strongly believe there is opportunity for political unification if we can get beneath our own self-righteous tendencies, cultural assumptions, and partisan warring. Donald J. Trump’s approach and language as President of the United States, has been an unbelievably potent accelerant, exacerbating the already growing political polarization to near democratic death. This experience has plunged us into an urgent necessity of changing course and resituating how we approach political dialogue. If we do not do so, we will be heading toward a totalitarian state. If we cannot collaborate as a unified nation, we cannot govern ourselves. We cannot maintain democracy. We will fail our forefathers’ dream.

In order to act from the recognition that US Americans are all of us, I offer a list of suggestions as a starting place from which to begin a dramatic shift in our political dialogues. The change will not come easily; the partisan divide began decades ago, has been enflamed by social media, and is of tsunami strength today. However, please, let’s not give up. Let’s try to come together.

10 Ways to Strive for Unity: Creating the United States out of United Citizens

I believe each of the suggestions below is a requirement in order to come together and offer ourselves a solid place to start re-unifying the United States:


1. Believe that our strength to overcome national hardships lies in our ability to unite; let all our words and actions be grounded first and foremost in a desire to unify US

2. Forgive each other their ignorance; ask for forgiveness for our own ignorance

3. Check our own self-righteous attitudes, ground ourselves in humility, accept constructive critique; strive to recognize how our own hurt is fueling anger, hatred, and distance

4. Do not accept or perpetuate demeaning attitudes toward poor white US Americans, uneducated US Americans, rural US Americans, and religious US Americans; do not accept or perpetuate dismissive, complacent attitudes in regards to the racism embedded within the US American judicial and economical systems and within every single American social institution

5. Seek to know better those whose experiences have been ignored and voices buried

6. Locate our common grounds by recognizing our different lived experiences, and thus our different perceptions, interpretations, and judgments

7. Recognize that both Biden supporters and Trump supporters have valid concerns, let’s not paint each other with broad strokes

8. Edit out the snarkiness of our posts, do not re-post snarky memes, gifs, posts; seek constructive information within others’ snarky posts, if you cannot find it, dismiss it without reply

9. Fact check any article we wish to forward, strive to use the most balanced sources, or at the least, acknowledge the leanings of our source and perhaps present as well the counterview of the topic from a publication that leans the other way

10. Demand fundamental collaboration from the two dominant US political parties; voice an abhorrence for voter suppression to your political leaders and on public forums

Over the last few decades, we have created a political environment in which we are unable to effectively collaborate. We now play a game of all or nothing. As a result, we no longer listen to perspectives that have discord with our own. We have forgotten that other perspectives necessarily hold value precisely because they are not our own perspective. Other people’s perspectives hold a wealth of information for me and if I learn to take their perspective into account, I gain a broader understanding than I have from my view alone.

However, in the current political climate, we have learned to shut down other perspectives. We close the door without considering their value. We do not allow them to correct our own thinking and thinking continually requires correction. Other voices alert us when our perception has closed in around us to the point of distortion. Our ability to consider the alerts of those outside our own perspective is an essential tool within democracy. Unfortunately for us, this tool has been eroding within our democracy markedly during the last five decades, my own lifetime.

In my mid-twenties, I watched Democrats cheaply and blindly defend President Clinton and his actions during his impeachment. This last year I watched an even more absurd degree of denial by Republicans during President Trump’s impeachment. That increase is not due to the different political party; it is due to the exponentially increasing political polarization that occurred within the two decades between those two impeachments. Our ability to listen to the warnings of those not mired in admiration, to hear their concerns raised, and to willingly investigate must be regained if we wish to proceed toward a stronger democracy.

I do not know what my perception would be, or what I would allow it to become, if I found myself with a US President that was a dream come true to me, but who inspired deep concerns from the other half of our nation’s population.

What would I do if my favorite US President, when considering the national pandemic statistics, publicly suggested that we not count the states that hold a majority of people who did not vote for him? Would it give me pause? If so, would that pause make me stop and question the impact of such a statement?

What if I had a US President who successfully advanced my own personal political priorities, but who, in a public debate, rallied a white supremacist domestic terrorist group to “stand by”? Would I even be able to acknowledge the impact of such a statement on our US Americans targeted by such groups? Or its divisive effect on this nation?

If I made myself answer these questions, my answers would only be part of a thought experiment, for I am not actually in the position these questions describe and I never have been. I would *like* to believe I would be open to discovering if danger was at my doorstep like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But, taking into account all the factors that would be shaping my response (and even shaping the level of my awareness!), I cannot know with certainty that I would be.

For many of you, these questions are not a mere thought experiment. They describe your current political reality. And you will have a chance to know with certainty the choice you made. Deep breath; may you reflect and own your choice with full awareness, whatever it may be.

Lastly, I must make an uncomfortable confession that I believe will bring some needed context for my list of suggestions, my thought experiment (both given above) and to our current situation as a nation:

Until 2016, I had never voted in a Presidential election. I held no allegiance toward either of the two dominant political parties. I hold as many conservative values as I hold progressive values. And I have always believed, and now more than ever I still believe, that only by integrating these values wisely and willingly into the foundations of our political policies and actions (rather than on the surface through forced compromise which has proven disastrous in the past), can we fulfill the seeds of democratic governance that we have been gifted in our US Constitution. My choice to not vote was my political voice; I did not want to contribute to the increasing party polarization that was creating monstrous discourse, policies, and law.

The 2016 Republican primaries dramatically changed the context in which I had always made the choice to not vote. For the 2016 Democratic Oregon primary, I changed my Independent voter registration to Democrat (as was required in Oregon) so I could vote against Hillary Clinton. I then voted for her in the national election as a vote against Donald J. Trump. As self-serving as I believe Bill Clinton was as President, and expected Hillary Clinton to be, I had an even more dire premonition:

Donald J. Trump’s sole interest as President would be to increase his personal power; he would have no other loyalty. And I believe that has been the case. If we compare Republican senators’, representatives’, and governors’ hesitance and, in some cases, overt negativity toward Trump prior to his win as the Republican nominee, to their subservience to him since his election, it seems apparent that Trump has taken the power of the Republican Party and now holds it for himself. The Republican Party now seems to represent Donald J. Trump, rather than the other way around.

President Trump is absolutely gifting the Republican Party with many “rewards” for being his party.

Nevertheless, during my observations of these last four years, I have been reminded of the parable of the scorpion and the frog. And those in the most power of the Republican Party must surely recognize the sting of the scorpion’s tail which has already occurred. They have been no match for Donald J. Trump. The party is now his.

However, for now, he is only as strong as the US Americans that support him and that support comes from diverse motivations. While fanatics may be the loudest, they must not be the only voices heard. They are merely insulation and any reduction of Trump supporters to those voices alone does none of us any favors. Supporters of Joe Biden must not fail in conversations to listen, learn, and work to understand the lived experiences that have led to each underlying motivation. Many motivations are worthy of attention and deserve political collaboration, while only a handful do not.

Regardless of the stormy events we will witness and experience in these upcoming months, remember, we the people now have valuable material to help us continue to work toward a healthy democracy which includes ALL of US. These tumultuous times are the very means by which we will earn the right to continue toward democracy, if we so desire. We haven’t even begun to tackle the fundamental issue within democracy which is the root of our troubles today: The tyranny of the majority. IF we survive this momentous moment intact as a nation, we might actually get a chance to take democracy to a fuller, richer, healthier expression by learning how to be a democracy without the cheap trick of a tyranny of the majority.


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