Election Day 2016


“It’s really something every two years we get to overthrow the government.” Aaron Sorkin through Amy Gardner, a character on “The West Wing”
Election Day is the day We the People take our power back.
(It ought to be a national holiday, but that is another essay.)
It is easy to feel powerless in this world. We watch our Congress engage in unprecedented obstruction, and it seems there is nothing we can do about it. For the better part of a year, the Supreme Court of the United States has functioned with only eight members because Republicans in the senate decided to ignore their constitutional responsibility and refused to give President Obama’s nominee to the high court either a hearing or a vote. It does not matter to them that President Obama was elected to a four-year term and that it is his constitutional duty to nominate justices to the court. They claim they have the right not to give Judge Merrick Garland a hearing or a vote because of their fidelity to the voters who elected them.
The Republican platform approves of this obstruction. It says: “We salute the Republican Congress for defending the right to keep and bear arms by preventing the President from installing a new liberal majority on the Supreme Court” (12).
At least three sitting Republican senators – John McCain (R-AZ), Richard Burr (R-NC) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) – have said this obstruction could continue through the four years of a Clinton administration. This shows gross disrespect for the Constitution of the United States and for one of the coequal branches of government. The good news is that today, on Election Day, We the People have the power to send obstructionist congress-members home.
When we read about a dinner on President Obama’s 2009 inauguration night where Republican lawmakers, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, and others conspired not to work with the president on ANYTHING, we feel powerless. Over eight years the unprecedented obstruction has kept us from getting comprehensive immigration reform, more infrastructure spending, and an improved Affordable Care Act. On Election Day, we take our power back and are able to give the majority in the House of Representatives back to people who put the good of the country over loyalty to party or ideology.
When 47 senators decide they can negotiate an agreement with several foreign countries better than the president and his team of national security advisors, then decide to write a letter to the leader of a foreign and hostile power, we may see red, scream at our media devices, rant on social media, and make angry telephone calls to our elected representatives, but on Election Day, we get to vote these people out of office.
The Republican platform promises not to honor any agreement with foreign nations not ratified by two-thirds of the Senate. It rejects the Kyoto and Paris agreements on climate change. It wants the completion of the Keystone pipeline.
Look around. Climate change is real. The trees in my yard have barely started to turn. Summer holds on longer and is hotter. The television series ‘Years of Living Dangerously” documents how climate change affects the lives of ordinary people and affects foreign policy. On Election Day, we get to choose leaders who will recognize this reality and act to address the problem.
A few weeks after Election Day 2012, twenty children and six adults were shot to death in one of the worse mass shootings in the history of the United States. After the shooting at Sandy Hook, the United States Congress had an opportunity to pass gun safety regulations. The Republicans in Congress blocked the legislation. The Republican platform says that the party opposes restrictions on magazine capacities and a ban on “the most popular and common modern rifle.”
Today, Election Day, we have an opportunity to vote people into office who will give us reasonable gun legislation.
Every Election Day, every day of early voting, we have an opportunity to take our power back. We have an opportunity to vote our values on a woman’s right to make her own health care choices, the limits of religious freedom that is used as a fig leaf for prejudice against LGBTQIA people, for the role of the United States in international bodies intended to make, build, and keep peace in the world. We do not have to scream into the powerless air. We get to go to our polling places, sign our names, vote, and overthrow the government.
Valerie Elverton Dixon is founder of JustPeaceTheory.com and author of “Just Peace Theory Book One: Spiritual Morality, Radical Love, and the Public Conversation.”

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