Keeping America Great in 2016

The 2016 Presidential election is about more than whom you could not possibly vote for, or who you think is evil, or stupid, or a liar, or a buffoon, or should be in jail, or in a circus. We need to think about qualifications, a combination of intellect and common sense, temperament, respect for the Constitution and compassion for the diversity of our people. The words Liberal and Conservative are not pejoratives, but imprecise coloration of our religion, our economics, and our politics. On November 8, we are going to elect a President, who will have to work with Congress, who will be our Commander-in-Chief, who will propose nominees for the Supreme Court, and occupy the most powerful pulpit on our planet. I have been impressed with the many people who have expressed their rational and positive support for their candidate of choice.

Voters and citizens are not deplorable; obscene speech and ignoble behavior are deplorable. Tennesseans will also be choosing 9 members of Congress, who make decisions about immigration, taxes, regulations, environment, defense, diplomacy, civil rights, and our social contract. We will elect 99 House members of our State Legislature. These people may impact your life more than the President.

My recent mass email supporting one of the candidates may have overly emboldened people on the left and right who might have been uncivil and intimidating. I appreciate many of you avowing your faith and your moral principles as the attribution for your political decisions. I respect that. But I would remind you America is a Constitutional Democratic Republic, not a Theocracy. Your public image is more than an affirmation of your faith. It requires a validation of your speech and your compassion for people with whom you live and share a sense of community.  The moral world view that comes from God is shared by people who derive their ethics from reason and human introspection. If you can for a moment, put aside your distaste for one or both of the candidates.

The first vote I cast for President was for John Kennedy in 1960. It was an absentee ballot during my active duty in the Army Reserve at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. I stood in the snow in January and watched the Inaugural Parade from the curb. From that day, until President Obama leaves office this January, we will have had 28 years of Republican presidents and 28 years of Democratic presidents in the White House.

America has been and is great now, and the word “again” is irrelevant. None of us are fleeing as refugees into Mexico or Canada, or a mythical time or place after the election. On a positive side, in my asking for votes for Hillary, I have found a Democratic party, unified and willing to go forward with a continuum of the Obama legacy. I have also found a bonding with my many sincere conservative Republican friends who find optimism in things that unite us as Americans that are more important than the things that divide us. Whatever you do, please vote, whether you follow your party, your conscience, or love of country. Also, even if you leave the top of the ballot blank, or write in the name of your cat or vote for a minor party candidate, give serious thought to our elections in the State Legislature in Districts 61, 63, and 65. These are our friends and neighbors. They make decisions about our schools, our local government, our quality of life, and the public political integrity of our County.

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