We’ve heard a lot about what’s at stake in this election. The reality is that this will be one of the most defining elections in the history of our country. We’ve watched over the last two years how the United States of America, once a beacon on the hill, has become a circus to the rest of the world. Never before in modern history have we seen such divisiveness and chaos come from the White House, or from an American President for that matter. We have watched as our country has been turned against each other, and the most vulnerable of us be made to feel left out of the American dream. It is clear, with the Republican control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, that the American people are in desperate need of the checks and balances that our democracy was designed to provide.
Throughout the country, states are being governed by Republican leadership that has fallen in line with ultra conservative ideology that speak more to party than to the well-being of the citizenry. In Georgia, where Stacy Abrams is poised to become the first African American Female Governor in the history of our country, we see a record of voting laws that are designed to suppress minority voters— and there is evidence of their success. In Florida, where Andrew Gillum is poised to make history as the first African American Governor of that state, his opponent has resorted to racial rhetoric in attempt to invoke remnants of the old south. These are examples of why it is important to diversify our government, not in terms of race but in ideology. The fact of the matter is that these candidates would bring about a fresh change in direction to their states. They are qualified, they are capable, and they deserve to lead.
We can’t only look at the big picture. In local races, we see diverse and progressive candidates throughout the country rising to the duty of public service. Their perspectives and stories matter to make everyone feel included in their governments. In Harris County, where I live, there are 18 African American women running for judicial seats, an unprecedented number at one time. The diversification of the courts throughout Harris County is not only needed, but can help to pave a way for the rest of the country. Much of what happens in the Harris County criminal system has been a litmus for the rest of the country. In Harris County, more people are sentenced to the death penalty than any other place in the country. While Harris County has a Democratic District Attorney, there is still the need for reform in the actual court rooms.
These races matter. Whether they are happening in your back yard or in other places around the country, they speak to an overarching need for change in our governance. Perhaps we thought because we elected the nation’s first African American President that the remnants of racism and racist policies would just disappear. On the contrary, it unleashed the fears of many and got us to this place that we are currently experiencing. Now, more than ever, is the time we must exercise our right to vote. We must exercise our vote not just for our pocket books, but for our children’s future and the country they will inherit. Sure, it sounds simple— but believe it or not, many among us don’t understand what’s at stake in this election. It’s easier for us to complain about the problem than it is for us to understand that collectively we are the solution. If we can muster up enough courage to stand up and let our voices be heard, then we will collectively see our country change. At this point is not an option, it’s a necessity.
Dallas S. Jones is a political consultant and commentator based in Houston, Texas. He is the President/CEO of Elite Change Inc., a Public and Government affairs firm.