If we are honest in our assessment of the current state of political affairs, most people would agree we are experiencing a challenging moment in our country’s young history. Right is left, left is right, down is up, up is down, and there is no such thing as a meeting place called the middle.
The acceptance and high tolerance for racism, violence, bigotry and hate have become new norms for some as we head full steam backward on the progress made in our country. In other words, we’re in a battle for the soul of our nation. As a country, we are wrestling with how America might truly reach her God-given potential and become that oh-so more perfect union.
The solutions to generational problems like racial discrimination, poverty, educational inequality, unemployment, a broken criminal justice system and illegal immigration, to name a few, are nowhere in sight. And a larger question lingers: how do we ensure future generations have the ability to compete in an ever-changing global society?
We will not solve our problems by retreating to our corners and engaging in the same rhetorical and behavioral patterns that keep us divided. Societal problems impact all of us, directly and indirectly.
Therefore, the policy prescriptions for these problems will only come when we join together and work together and not allow our race, gender, age, geographical location or our party afflictions keep us away from the solutions we desperately need.
Our voices and our votes will play a critical role in fight for progress. We will decide if we elect, re-elect or unseat leaders with the ability and political courage to solve the challenges of our day.
But regardless of who occupies the White House, Congress and judiciary, it is ultimately We The People who determine the trajectory of our union. From neighborhoods and houses of worship to schools and businesses, the social fabric of our country is woven each day, person-to-person, soul-to-soul.
Even with many challenges, most Americans remain optimistic; Gallup recently found that 55 percent of U.S. adults believe the United States’ best days are “ahead of us,” while 41 percent say they are “behind us.” Gallup reported that “Americans are more optimistic about the country’s future than they were the last time Gallup polled on the question, in December 2012.”
This is encouraging news, because a positive mindset is always the place to start to spark lasting growth. Yet as is the case with the human condition, a positive mindset is something that ebbs and flows. Interestingly, Gallup found that “Americans are generally more likely to say the best days are ahead of them when a president of their own political party is in the White House.”
Today, Gallup found that 69 percent of Republicans and 54 percent of independents say the best days for America lie ahead, while Democrats are split, with roughly equal percentages saying the best days are in the past and in the future. To Democrats worrying right now (and gloating Republicans), it’s worth noting that this too shall pass. In 2012, Democrats answered nearly identically to how Republicans do today (69 percent of Democrats said the best days were ahead, while 28 percent said they were in the past).
Given these trends, progressives should take heart and Republicans should be empathetic for when the tables turn. Scorched earth tactics from either side won’t mean true victory, as victory means growth for everyone. Rather, we need to remember the words of Lincoln: “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.” This will keep us on the path toward our beloved community, our more perfect union.
Antjuan Seawright is founder & CEO of Blueprint Strategy, LLC, a PR, advertising, consulting and political strategy firm. Carrie Sheffield is founder & CEO of Bold TV, a digital news network committed to bipartisan dialogue & innovation for people, business & communities.
Carrie Sheffield is the founder of Bold. She is passionate about storytelling to empower and connect others. A founding POLITICO reporter, Carrie contributed on political economy at Forbes and wrote editorials for The Washington Times. After earning a master’s in public policy from Harvard University, she managed credit risk at Goldman Sachs and researched for Edward Conard, Bain Capital founding partner and American Enterprise Institute scholar. She earned a B.A. in communications at Brigham Young University and completed a Fulbright fellowship in Berlin.