Happy New Year to you and yours!
Reviewing our work in Bloomington in 2016 and preparing for our efforts in 2017, I’m so gratified to have the chance to work with you on making our community more just, more progressive, and more open to all.
But there’s an elephant in the room as we head into 2017. No, I don’t mean the president-elect himself. But most certainly related to him. I still shudder when I ponder the results of the presidential election. My thinking about it continues to evolve.
Yes, we elected a president with a background, temperament, and personality alarmingly jarring next to the historical line of his predecessors. Zero political experience and dramatic failures as a businessperson. A shocking lack of apparent self-discipline or maturity of mind. An extreme need for approval and affirmation, a lack of empathy and bullying attitude toward those different from himself – women, people of color, people with disabilities, non-alpha persons – and a mortifying instability in light of his responsibilities and powers.
And that’s without even considering so many truly awful substantive policy positions of the president-elect and the party in power in Washington and most state capitals, including our own. There is such challenge ahead for progressive people and communities to stand our ground, defend our values, and fight for our future.
But as I begin 2017, I know America is a great diverse country, and I remind myself that people like the president-elect certainly can thrive here. I may not like it but they do. Generally, we’re a stronger country for having the open culture and vibrant competition of ideas and values that allow people of all types to develop. And it’s typical to have people of all types aspire to and seek the highest political office. Again, our culture and society are stronger with the dynamic, robust open qualities that assure diversity and change.
Perhaps what I’m saying to myself is that this debacle ahead of us in a sense isn’t the president-elect’s fault. He is just who he is. He’s a product of American culture and society. What is deeply disturbing is that our system has put such a person at the pinnacle of political power. I don’t believe we’ve ever done that before.
And that is us. We are the system. (I know that the defeated candidate got many more popular votes. And I know of the unprecedented foreign interference in the election. And the problem of rampant fake “news.” You bet I know.) In the end, the most distressing fact is that our great 240-year experiment in self-governance and democracy has now placed a person of this background, temperament, and personality in the presidency. Our system did that and that’s where our attention and focus must be sustained, even as we confront and resist the immediate threats of the coming administration.
So we must do our part to assure that our diverse and dynamic system self-corrects, so our country and our community move in the direction that most people want – toward more fairness and opportunity, toward more decency and compassion, toward a more sustainable world.
That’s the deep challenge and the moral imperative we must meet together. We must anticipate a rough ride, I fear, in the coming months and years. We need to keep our energy and focus on fixing this system together, one step at a time.
ps Thanks to all who have helped support us during the year, for political gatherings and efforts. There are no elections in 2017, but progressives need to keep building strength, and if you’re able to send financial support of any kind, it’s always welcome and will be put to good use, at JohnHamiltonforMayor, or at PO Box 3008, Bloomington, IN 47402
pps Mark your calenders for 7pm Thursday, February 16th, for the State of the City evening at the Buskirk Chumley. More info to come….