American Reflection and Rediscovery

By Roger Rickard, President, Voices in Advocacy®

As I reflect upon this election season, I ask myself over and over, “Will this election be a positive turning point, or will we drop deeper down a well of political polarization?” History will be left to answer this question.

When we vote, America wins. By all indications, Tuesday’s voter turnout will far exceed those of recent elections. I am in the camp of those that believe it could be the largest voter turnout, by percentage, in one hundred years. If this holds true, it will be a significant triumph for citizen engagement. That is, if we, the citizens, continue down this path of action.

Sitting behind the Resolute Desk inside the Oval Office, the 40th President, Ronald Reagan addressed the nation one last time. The address was crafted by Peggy Noonan under the watchful eye and with close consultation of the President himself. Two stanzas from this address jump off the page.  The first, his humility as shown in these words, “I’ve had my share of victories in the Congress, but what few people noticed is that I never won anything you didn’t win for me. They never say my troops, they never saw Reagan’s regiments, the American people. You won every battle with every call you made and letters you wrote demanding action. Well, action is still needed.” 

The other section of the address, which I believe is the most important, Reagan lays out in plain comparison the role of the citizen and role of the government announcing, “We the people. We the people tell the government what to do; it doesn’t tell us. We the people are the driver; the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world’s constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which, we the people tell the government what it is allowed to do.”

As a nation, and as citizens, we need a rediscovery, a rediscovery of our role in our government. It is time for us to drive the car. We hold the key to this success.

Americans it is our responsibility to fulfill our citizenship act to defend and protect democracy.

For over 200 years America has stood bright and strong, mostly in light – not darkness, mostly inclusive – not exclusive. Our noble experiment of free people self-governing is fragile and must be properly cared for.

This election is like none I have participated in. We need to turn down the heat of American against American.

Lincoln predictably said in 1858, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” It is time to end our deep tribalized political divide.

We have weathered the stress and strain of serious political divides in the past. Most notably our Civil War, where Americans faced off against each other. In some cases, family against family and brother versus brother.

It was a windy and wet day with streets knee-deep in late winter mud when one month prior to ending of the Civil War Abraham Lincoln uttered these words from his Second Inaugural Address, “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…”

Let our wounds heal, let our voices be heard, and let us return to what Reagan often spoke of, a shining city on a hill.

Today is the day that will change America, one way or the other. Today will lay out the future of America. Always believe in the promise and greatness of America. We are writing our American history.

A great feature of America is that after hard-fought political contests, the country unites. The people have spoken their will through this election in amazing numbers. Tomorrow we all must accept the outcome of our democratic process.

About the Author

Roger Rickard is President of Voices in Advocacy®. Voices in Advocacy® works with organizations to inspire, educate, engage, and activate their supporters by turning them into effective, influential advocates.