This election year give Americans a break (opinion) |

This election year give Americans a break (opinion)

Troy Matthews
Special to the Tribune

It’s an election year, and as bizarre as this particular election has become, really the dance is all the same. Americans line up behind their team (Democrats or Republicans) — and no matter what their side says is gospel, and whatever the other side says is treason. Social media becomes a cringe-worthy battleground, and the prospect of discussion of current events around the dinner table with relatives somehow includes projectile beverages and crying over the key lime pie.

You know what? I love it. It’s America. This is who we are. This is how we get our stuff settled.

I think everyone needs to take a minute and realize how amazing America is. People died to give us the right to vote. African-Americans marched against dogs and firehoses for the right to vote. Women were beaten and jailed for the right to vote. Soldiers, sailors and marines died on beaches, just so we could point the finger at our leaders and say,” you do not speak for me.” And at the end of the day we come together and hug it out. Because we are Americans and this is what we do.

Give Americans a break. And this may be controversial: give our elected officials a break. Do you realize how difficult it is to be an effective public official in the era of instant media? Our representatives have to spend so much time and energy trying to keep their job, they have almost no time to do their job. Yet we survive. The wheel keeps turning and our prosperity grows ever higher. However easy and attractive cynicism may be, avoid it like a plague.

Do we have issues we need to work out? Of course. Is our society utterly failing many people? Most definitely. Is the solution to get angry, say the system is rigged, and drop out? Absolutely not.

America is hope. Hope is the fuel that makes our democracy survive. Pessimism and cynicism in America are a huge nail ripping a hole in our tires. I would argue that in today’s world, public cynicism and fear are more dangerous to democracy than corruption, because cynicism makes people mute their own voice and that let’s corruption thrive. Fear makes people turn their back on democracy and opt for leaders who preach hate.

Angry about how things are? Don’t complain — vote. Don’t like your choice of candidates for president? Stop making politics a dirty word and convincing good people to stay out of it. Run for local office yourself. If you can’t, convince your spouse to run. If neither of you can run, start a local civics club to come up with solutions to issues you are passionate about in your community. Teach your children that democracy is beautiful, politics is honorable, and there is no problem we can’t solve together.

Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things. Cynicism and fear never solved a single problem in our nation’s history. Hope and unity solved them all. Give America a break.

“How long? Not long. Because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Troy Matthews works for Tahoe Youth & Family Services and is on the Board of Directors for the Tahoe Regional Young Professionals. He has a master’s degree in political science from George Washington University. The opinions expressed in this article are not an expression of the Tahoe Regional Young Professionals views, they are individual member’s thoughts and opinions.

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