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Open Thoughts on the U.S. Election Results

Looking back at San Francisco from the Rockridge Station in Oakland. I wanted to note one of last night's victories, more money for the BART system.  Image by Malcolm Kenton

Looking back at San Francisco from the Rockridge Station in Oakland. I wanted to note one of last night’s victories, more money for the BART system. Image by Malcolm Kenton

I assume most of you are probably in a state of either shock or fear or a combination of the two. I wanted to write a note here, so you’ll know that someone is listening one and two, that you’re not alone and three, so I can process these things. The platform is here for a reason and I’m using it for this today.

First of all, at the local and state levels, some strong advocates and leaders were elected for the first time or re-elected. Some strong leaders were very close to winning. And the presidential election itself on a county-by-county level was very close. While there were some places that flipped, others stayed the same or were stable.

Additionally, I’m so proud of all the cities that voted for transit or other infrastructure bonds. There’s also been an idea that in the new presidential administration, that an infrastructure measure of great consequence may actually happen. I can see that, as many of the transit referenda went forth in places that went red last night.

Going forward, I do think we need to tackle that civic-inferiority complex, along with our own inferiority complexes. We need to listen to all people. We need to make sure they are all fed and have the opportunity for healthcare without the extreme financial burdens. We need to make sure they all have a place to live. We need to stay out of bedrooms and church houses and other places that if we don’t have to go, we don’t have to go. If someone isn’t attacking you, don’t be a bully. Believe what you believe, but don’t attack people or be a bully in the pursuit of your own feelings of needing a person to be a certain way for you to feel some kind of self-worth. Sometimes we deal with this in our own families or colleagues or classmates and even longtime friends. I think our first step is to accept who they are, discuss things tactfully and then when it’s clear that mindset change is not happening on a particular day, move on and focus back on ourselves and self-worth and self-love and our improvements that we’ve been told we should do, through various means.

I know that many times in the past six years, I’ve written people off, people who have no intention of being violent or who really just want answers to questions, because I don’t like how they say it or what they say. I think we have done this a lot over the past few years and really over the past 50 years since we decided collectively that all people should have rights, but on the flip side they only have rights if they do things our way and in our moralities. Do realize that this country is not unified under one moral code. Other than life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all. Also realize that we have built this country under systems that have always privileged a select few. However, because we had language in our constitution that stated otherwise, we as people in the United States have felt like we can have a fair shot at challenging those norms.

On the flip side, we need to redefine the American Dream such that it doesn’t require extreme wealth and the appearance of success to succeed. We need to stop making it about what we own as so much as to what we can offer in our own creativity and grit and love.

Our cities must continue to fix and maintain and build better transportation systems. We need to wipe the terms market-rate and affordable out of our housing conversation and just talk about housing. We need to commit to a common, free, lifelong education system. We need clean water and air. We need free or low-cost healthcare. Our first responders and protectors that seek to protect and serve, need do that not just fear and bully and kill. Our regions and cities should  their citizens before investing in corporations that may or may not stay around long enough to build the economy. We should respect the rural areas and the breadbasket of our nation and instead of shaming suburban people, looking at it for what it is and doing our best to create real, functional towns and villages out of the various sprigs of development that we have.

Additionally, I ask that you respect those of us, who may have chosen third parties and who may take this opportunity to choose another country of residence. We live on a globe, not just a flat piece of land and there are many more issues and places and ideas that we need to address. Many of us look to Copenhagen and Amsterdam for bike/ped infrastructure, and to South Korea for rail infrastructure. We need to be looking outside the box, especially if all that changes is that all of the new laws of the last eight years are repealed. If we are allowed to continue to exist as a democracy, if we aren’t at risk of deportation, or extreme public shunning or shaming, or being killed, we can start the conversations we need to have at the local and state level on new leadership. We can be more innovative with whom we choose as leaders. Or, much as I’m an American expat in America, we can visit and live and work in other places, build up income and experience and come back home and shift our country.

In 2020, I will be old enough to run for president. Not saying that I’ll exercise my right then and that it will be available, but I want us to think about what the world could look like as soon as next year, when there will be more elections and maybe local ones you can plug into and start building the seeds to help us get back to a better place.

And finally, let us be courageous and keep living our normal lives. The oppressor wins when we bow down and we change our lives. Let’s be our best selves until the end.

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