I woke up with this crazy idea about unity. That we could get past the “Haha we won, suckers” portion of victory and move on to spending the next four years trying to achieve unity as a nation.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized what a crazy, naive idea that is.
The differences between us are not just on things like economy and defense spending. There’s a broader, more complex difference in opinions than in previous races, a widening gap created by bringing fundamentalism, ethics and religion into a political race.
In order to achieve a sense of unity there must be a common ground and I can not find a political common ground with people who believe rape is a gift from god, who believe a woman does not have the right to choose what happens to her own body, who believe that not everyone is created equal or should have equal rights. When our core beliefs - the right to choose, the right for people of the same sex to marry, the right to not have the tenets of one religion forced upon me - are so far apart there is no bridge big enough to close the chasm between us.
How do we unify as a nation?
Simple. We don’t. We can only go this far:
We respect the fact that people are entitled to their beliefs even if we don’t respect the beliefs.
That is the closest we can get to some kind of unity in a country where religious beliefs have taken on a big role in politics.
Truth is, I don’t want to be unified with Mitt Romney because to do so would mean compromising some of my beliefs. I don’t want to be unified with Paul Ryan or Todd Akin. I don’t want to be unified with a party that would take away some of my fundamental rights, or a person who believes 47% of the population is just lazy. I don’t want to stretch my ideals or shrink my ideals to find a common ground with people who would somehow use that ground against me.
I do respect your right to believe what you believe.
I do respect your right to voice your opinions.
But I do not believe we can take that respect and translate it into unity. And that’s not the fault of any side. It’s just the fault of human nature.
We have let a certain brand of fundamentalism come between us and that is not a gap we can close without either of us giving up who we are. Nobody wants to give up who they are nor should we ask anyone to do so just to form some kind of false sense of unity. For that kind of unity will always be false.
These are not going to be an easy four years. There is going to be a lot of acrimony.
I can only hope the person I put my faith in, the man I voted for, will do the best job he can always with the good of this nation and its people in mind, even without the prospect of any kind of unity.
I do not want to people to be arrogant about winning. Nor do I want people to be bitter about losing. I wish there was somewhere we could meet halfway.
All we can do is move forward and hope we find it.
I voted with those words in my head.
I wish there was room for unity there.
It’s 5am. I’ve slept about five hours in the past six days thanks to Sandy. I hope what just came out of my brain makes sense.
We learned about dignity and decency — that how hard you work matters more than how much you make, that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.
We learned about honesty and integrity — that the truth matters, that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.
We learned about gratitude and humility — that so many people had a hand in our success, from the teachers who inspired us to the janitors who kept our school clean and we were taught to value everyone’s contribution and treat everyone with respect.
Those are the values Barack and I — and so many of you — are trying to pass on to our own children.
That’s who we are.
There are so many quotes I could have pulled from Michelle Obama’s speech, which she wrote herself. But that’s the one that stuck with me.
Without mentioning Romney, Michelle Obama managed to skewer his very ideals, hold them over a flame and burn them to a crisp.
It was a beautiful, inspiring speech and I’m so proud she is our First Lady.
Early last night, I said political conventions are more about preaching to the choir than gaining new voters, but I felt like that speech really reached out to everyone. It reflected what I wrote about last week when I talked about an inclusive society. In the end, we are all just Americans. That’s our commonality. We all want to be better, to do better, to make this country better and we can to that, together.
That’s what I feel and I heard that echoed in the First Lady’s speech last night.
Maybe conventions aren’t always going to pull in the undecided. But they can have their moments when the decided feel in their heart the decision they are making is the right one for themselves and their country.
I felt that last night.