Can we please just agree on these things before the election?

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I think we need to come to some general agreements.

We live in the most divisive period in American history. A billboard near our house declares “Wake Up America! It’s 1776.” I disagree. It feels a lot more like 1860, the country on the verge of Civil War. The upcoming election, regardless of who wins, is going to be an utter disaster, and I am honestly uncertain about how we come back from some of the division that has torn at the soul of the country.

One way to start may be to come back to some basic agreements that, at one time, seemed like common sense. It feels like if we could get back to some base line consensus on some very simple principles of behavior, we could have productive conversations that help get the country back on track.

That said, I feel like these proposed agreements are going to be more difficult for some than others. I’m not sure how we let it get to that point because to argue against these agreements, I believe, is to take really unhealthy and unhelpful social stances. And yet, if there weren’t people taking those stances, I wouldn’t have to ask for these agreements! So let’s try hard to agree. Let’s try hard to find this very basic common ground. If we can do that, we might stand a chance regardless of what happens November 3rd!

  1. Can we agree that Donald Trump is not a good person? If you’re going to vote for him anyway that’s your prerogative, but we should agree that you’re not voting for him because he’s a good person. He’s not. He lies. He hires bad people to work around him. He’s driven by ego. His rhetoric borders on Facism. You can say what you want about the media treating him unfairly, or Democrats having it out for him, or the Russian investigation being a hoax. None of that changes the fact that he’s not a good person. There’s no way around it. Voting for a bad person doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person…it just makes you a person who doesn’t mind voting for a bad person. Can we agree he’s a terrible human being, because we should be able to agree on general human decency!  
  1. Can we agree that Covid-19 is not a hoax? It’s not going to disappear on November 4th when the election is over. The chances that it was concocted in a lab are slim, but even if it was, it’s still a real virus making people sick. We’ve done a terrible job of containing it mostly because we’ve done a terrible job getting on message that this is a real threat to our health and healthcare system, and we’re all going to have to take one for the team for a while. You can be mad that you have to wear a mask but still, for the love of everything holy, you need to wear one! Can we just agree to do this so that the curve ACTUALLY flattens and we can move on?
  2. Can we agree that making it easier for people to vote should be an admirable goal? If you don’t believe this, it’s probably because you’re worried those new voters aren’t going to vote the same way you do. But having different opinions is not a good enough reason to make it harder for people to vote. It’s a constitutional right. You should participate in it. We should make it easier to participate in. Oh! And if you’re outraged about potential voter fraud, of which there is little evidence, you should DEFINITELY be outraged about voter suppression, of which there is significantly more evidence! Can we please agree that everyone gets to vote, not just the people who agree with you?
  3. Can we agree that foreign countries meddling in our election is VERY BAD!? I don’t care if they’re helping or hurting your candidate! We should not want American democracy to be hackable, even if it puts our candidate or party in office. This is happening. Democrats and Republicans agreed that this happened in 2016 with Russia. Recently, malware from Russia, China, and Iran was found in the email accounts of staffers and campaign aids for both Trump and Biden. THIS IS A PROBLEM NOT A HOAX! Can we please agree to get foreign entities out of our elections!?    
  4. Can we agree to apply an iota of independent and critical thought to the things that get us riled up on social media? If we are friends online, I will police the things that you post! If it has a ridiculous headline, if it’s written with a clear slant (be it political, religious, age related, geographical, etc.) it’s probably being presented as something completely factual that’s only half true at best. Do not share these things to your timeline. Do not forward these emails to your contact list. If you feel strongly about it, at least run a basic Google search to find out if it’s accurate. If it’s true, you will have validated your opinion and strengthened the argument you may wish to raise with friends and family. If it’s false, you won’t be responsible for spreading intellectual garbage on the internet. Can we agree to go back to thinking instead of just clicking through life and getting worked up about it in the process?
  5. Can we agree that Black lives matter? I know this is hard for some of you to grasp because “all lives matter.” But literally zero people have said all lives don’t matter, whereas a lot of people have acted like Black lives matter less. It doesn’t take anything away from the police, or military, or firefighters, or white people in general to say Black lives matter. It doesn’t mean you support violent looting and rioting. It means you support Black people. You believe they matter. You believe that they shouldn’t be the target of brutality, marginalization, racial profiling, and systemic racism. I want us to agree that systemic racism is a real thing that we’re all participating in, even those of us with the best of intentions, but I think that’s going to be too hard a sell for some people. So instead, can we just agree, Black lives matter? 
  6. Can we agree that the violent looting and rioting happening in our streets is NOT THE SAME THING as peaceful protests in support of social justice causes. If you want to sell the argument that the violent actions of a few “bad eggs” in the police department don’t taint the good work of the rest of the police department, then you must also buy the argument that the violent riots started by a few “bad eggs” don’t taint the good advocacy of the rest of the people taking peacefully to the streets in the name of civil justice. Like voting, protest is a constitutional right, and we should encourage people to participate in it, even if they are protesting something we believe in. This takes humility. Humility is hard. But can we agree that peaceful protestors should be allowed to do so without fear of being tear gassed and thrown into the back of vans?

If we could all agree on these things, this election wouldn’t be half as contentious as it is. We could go back to debating the finer points of taxation and foreign relations like we used to. We could disagree on policy without feeling the need to launch into political tirades because we’d be defending political theory instead of, what feels like, morality.

We can do this. Right? Can we at least agree to try?  

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