I have slept better in the last several days than I have the last 6 years, except the few weeks between election day, 2020 and January 6th, 2021.
Never in my lifetime would I have I believed that our country could spiral down the path of fascism and authoritarianism fueled by white supremacy and hatred toward marginalized people. Our biases in America, at least in my lifetime, have always been more subtle and hidden. As a Lesbian, I have experienced homophobia. As a woman, I have experienced sexism. As a white person, I have benefited from privilege that has mostly been invisible to me. The path away from our ism’s is to listen to each other’s stories from a place of empathy. By listening to each other, we have been able to connect, and make progress to correct injustices and dismantle racism, homophobia and xenophobia in our minds, institutions and systems of governance. That is the American path—to perfect our union toward the ideals our founders espoused.
As a career bureaucrat, I have worked proudly on behalf of “the people” to make government better. In all my years working in government, I have seen (and made) bad decisions based on flawed assumptions and incomplete information. I have seen (and created) inefficiencies based on following the “rule of law,” often driven by politics rather than good public policy goals. Never, have I witnessed a hint of corruption or intent to circumvent the laws no matter how distasteful or short-sighted they were. The people I work with are honorable and faithful to the systems we support as the implementation arm of the people’s government. I always believed that an inefficient, messy democracy was better than an efficient autocracy.
Never did I imagine that elected government officials would leverage the discontent and fears of ordinary citizens to attack our system of government. In other situations of crisis, it is our leaders who remind us—the people—that preserving the system is more important than any election, politician, or policy loss. We must, above all, support our system if we are to preserve it for future generations. Six years ago, it seemed the rules were changing as the leaders and officials were the ones whipping up hatred and violence, not just against other citizens but against the system itself. A government of, by and for the people can only work if we trust the systems that sustain it.
Tuesday, November 8th, 2022 feels like it might be a turning point back to civility and trust in our democracy. Voters across the county—Democrats, Republicans and Independents voted in support of politicians who espouse belief in our democratic republic and against those with expressed intent to destroy it.
I am proud of the USA—the people—who showed up to save our system, especially those who voted for leaders who did not represent their policy positions, in order to save our country. It was the people, not the officials, who put country ahead of party. I am grateful for these acts of patriotism from my fellow citizens. Hopefully, this will be a turning point back to decency, healing and building systems that reflect our collective interests of freedom.
I do so enjoy getting a full night of sleep!