Standing in the doorway of 2023, with the holidays ahead, I want to focus on the ways we Americans connect and love one another. This is a challenge during our great political divide, but my hope is that we can disagree peacefully, argue with civility, and celebrate our common appreciation for millions of things, from the majesty of our Rocky Mountains to same-day delivery by Amazon.
There has always been open and lively conflict across America, but we are witnesses, today, to disturbing political and cultural warfare, real threats to democracy. This time around could be the last time around if we don’t figure out a way forward.
That said, I own every single word I have written about former President Donald Trump and his extremist followers. I believe with all my heart that his MAGA movement has already compromised our democracy, but not irreparably. I acknowledge — and I have the letters to prove it — that many readers see things differently. They see President Biden as the problem. They feel loyal to the former administration.
The former president, now a 2024 presidential candidate, spoke last week about dissolving the Constitution. He hosted a dinner two weeks ago at Mar-a-Lago at which two guests felt empowered to indulge in antisemitic slurs. Perhaps we are reaching a tipping point. We need room for people to re-evaluate their loyalties and reconsider their alliances with people like the men and women who participated in the Jan. 6 insurrection.
I have not yet heard any Trump loyalist defend his comments about the Constitution. The principles of this document are our reason for being as a democratic country. The words matter. How does anyone reconcile his verbal attack on the Constitution?
I believe in the possibility of change. As voters and our law enforcement agencies move toward holding the former president accountable, we will have time and space to find the best in one another again. May the accountability unfold with dignity and gravitas.
Looking at the rapid shifts in our society and culture, it is possible to understand why many people are reactive to our brave new world and want to go back to simpler times. Life has been unfair to large swaths of people across America. I understand it, but the “simpler times” refer to a whiter, male-dominated heterosexual culture with little room for people who were different. Our world has changed, not fast enough for some people and too fast for others.
We can likely agree that political sideshows on all sides are unproductive and self-serving. We need to get behind quality candidates who can check off the basic boxes: Honest? Skilled? Work well with others? See themselves as public servants?
Let’s take a breather over the holidays.
Hanukkah is coming up, with remembrances of hope and heroism going back to ancient times. Jewish people and their friends will light the candles and eat the latkes and give their children food and goodies over the eight days.
Christmas and Kwanzaa approach with people feeling more comfortable gathering with family, especially with vaccines and healthy protocols in place. Some of us will mask up, not as a political statement, but as a sensible way to keep our elders safe through the holidays.
Across America, people of every stripe and every polka dot and from every corner of every small town, east, west, north and south, will be traveling, feeling the love of family, and sharing food at common tables.
There will be the inside family jokes and the debate over eggnog and the best recipes for chocolate chip cookies.
This is the season of miracles. It shouldn’t take one to bring together a people who settled a new country, fought wars for freedom together, laughed at the same movies, cried together on 9/11 and suffered together during the terrible years of the pandemic. We should be able to get it together, literally and figuratively.
After the holiday parties, we have work to do. We have children way behind in their academic studies; teenagers psychologically traumatized by lockdowns; people, including hurricane survivors and immigrants, who need safe places to live and jobs and acceptance. If we are pulling in different directions, it will be challenging to move forward.
Two things can be true at once. We are divided, and we share values and traditions. We can try to stand in one another’s shoes instead of stepping on one another’s toes.
Copyright 2022 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.