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Sunday, April 12, 2015

How Will You Contribute to our Democracy: Presidential Campaign 2016

The Presidential race is beginning in earnest.

We see it in the newspaper and hear about it on the news.

What will happen? Who will be the next President? What matters in this regard?

From where I sit, I want to follow this race with greater depth and attention than in the past. I want politics as we know it to change somewhat. I hope for less money on fanfare and more money that combines politicking and good work. I wish for a campaign that spends less time on senseless, sound bite issues, and more time on deep, important issues. For example with respect to the news about what 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton said one day in the White House. How crazy!  If you're a mom or dad, you know that you wouldn't want conjecture about your 13-year-old's statements on the news. What a waste of time.

What's not a waste of time? How can campaigns get their message out and do good work too? Here are a few of the issues that matter to me, and ideas I have about the future.
  • We're a country of men and women, boys and girls, and multiple cultures, races, religions, sexual orientation, and more--I want a candidate that respects our diversity and looks to align themselves with good leaders from multiple perspectives.
  • A well educated nation will be a strong nation. I want a candidate that does not align himself/herself with any one educational policy, but instead seeks conditions for excellence in every school starting with the most simple school attributes such as safe, welcoming school buildings and playgrounds, positive student-teacher ratios, high quality before, during, and after school programs, a tech device for every child, and well prepared educators in every school. 
  • We are a global society. It's imperative that we work well to work with our global society as no country can stand alone anymore. We are an interdependent world and the more we can work together, particularly around issues of respect, peace, the environment, poverty, food, and health, the stronger every country will be. 
  • Quality of life matters. I want the next president to be a person who believes that a good education, quality health care (including dental care), safe neighborhoods, good homes, a clean environment, healthy food, jobs with adequate pay, and equal rights are the foundation of a good life. I want that president to work to safeguard these human rights for all people.
  • The Arts matter. The arts are what bring us together and highlight our humanity in ways that build community, respect, and understanding for one another. 
  • A vital infrastructure allows people to travel, communicate, and be safe. It can also be a good source of jobs and community strength. 
  • Rethinking our democracy by putting greater value on structures that promote life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for every American. A society of haves and have-nots will lead to a society of despair. How can we re-look at the equations and definitions of equality, wealth distribution, jobs, family, and happiness with an eye on creating a fair and peaceful nation that expects responsibility and contribution and also respects individual freedom and rights.
  • Focus on What's Important. Stay clear of news articles, TV shows, books, and articles that focus on matters of little importance. I call those "easy issues," issues that don't require any personal sacrifice, commitment, or dedication. Instead, read the articles and watch the shows that dig deep into an individual's character, education, experience, and commitment to the American people and world society. Many will want to profit from the campaign by highlighting small issues of little importance. Yet when it comes to our overall society and potential good future as national and world citizens, resist the temptation to jump on that bandwagon of sensationalism. 
  • Campaign and Service. What if the millions of dollars spent on campaigns were dollars spent in service. Rather than lots of fancy dinners, what about service days? Instead of expensive travel, how about bus rides? It could be that these dollars work to the benefit of many, not just a few in creative ways that get the message out and help people too. 
How will you navigate the political campaigns of the many candidates who will step up to run for President? What will you do to help save the integrity of this process and contribute to our democratic nation, a country where every adult has the freedom of speech and the right to vote? As educators, in what ways will you teach the democratic process and history of our country to your students?

The words we use, the actions we involve ourselves in, and the vote we make will matter, and now is a good time to decide how you'll follow this campaign and contribute so that Americans make a good choice in 2016.