By Vernon A. Williams, Gary Crusader
The good news is…it’s over. After the most contentious campaign for the presidency in the history of the United States, this horrible reality show is coming to an end – for now. There are some deep wounds from this no-holds-barred competition that may never heal and relationships ended between good people on opposite sides of the chasm.
The victor will soon prepare for the transition of power with inauguration January 20, 2017 – ending the historical presidency of Barack Hussein Obama. The question is where do we go from here?
The first thing to do is examine “takeaways” from this surreal campaign. What did we learn? What do we know now that we didn’t at the outset? And certainly, which of our suspicions, fears, apprehensions and forebodings were confirmed? Finally, what good came out of this struggle? These answers vary for each individual. There are no absolutes.
In the wake of the election, here are my recommendations based on my observations:
- There should be a job description for the presidency. Why not at least do for the highest office in the land what we require of an entry level salesperson, short-order cook, mail clerk, truck driver or classroom aid. List qualifications, education and experience required.
- The season for politicking needs to be shortened. A year and a half was horrible. Folks should announce no earlier than Thanksgiving, limit primaries to the following January through May, host conventions in June or July, run head to head starting in August, and vote in November.
- All states should allow early voting. Election Day should be shifted to the first SATURDAY in November. The number of polling places should be doubled. Public transportation should be free all day and rides provided for the elderly and physically challenged.
- Term limits should be implemented for all elected office – particularly Congress. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. To suggest that it’s okay for one man or woman to be in Washington 20 or 30 years is disrespectful to young aspirant public servants.
- The Federal Trade Commission should apply the same “truth in advertising” laws imposed on product/service commercials to political advertisements – broadcast or print. Information or assertions about candidates that can be discredited or proven false should not be allowed.
- The U.S. Supreme Court should reconsider the Pandora’s Box it opened with scaled back voting rights a couple of years ago. Their ill-gotten conclusion that discrimination is less of a factor was rebuked by 25 Republican states that immediately implemented laws to suppress the Black vote.
- Those who oppose government-sponsored insurance should relinquish any claims to health coverage provided by virtue of their office. And just as in the private sectors, when elected officials leave their positions, their coverage should end.
- All who run for public office should be required to release all tax information for at least the past three years. There should be total disclosure of potential conflict of interest and a thorough background check.
- Every elected official from dog catcher to President should be issued a Report Card every year delineating (1) attendance, participation, and compliance; (2) fulfillment of campaign promises; (3) bipartisan coalition efforts and (4) responsiveness to and engagement of constituency.
One last thought. Throughout this election, I have heard African Americans whom I love and respect issue scathing condemnation of Blacks who support Hillary Clinton; as though “I’m with Her” chanters were sheep being led to slaughter or unwitting dupes of empty rhetoric. They reject out of hand the notion that she is either their conscientious preference or perhaps the lesser of two evils—The audacity. By what virtue do they ascribe to such superior intellect and moral high ground? These folk need to take a deep breath and agree to disagree without being so disagreeable.
Channel that anger into advocacy and activism. Build your base of support between now and the next election. Make your behavior more consistent with your rhetoric of conscience. At the end of the day – talk is cheap. Difference makers are those who get involved and become the change they want to see. Most of all, respect the right of Blacks Americans not to always agree with each other.
It was a long, unprecedented campaign and we survived – America survived – by the grace of God. We need to put it aside and go about the everyday business of working together to enhance the quality of life for all. Election Day didn’t signal an end to your civic duties, instead it marks a new beginning.
CIRCLE CITY CONNECTION by Vernon A. Williams is a series of essays on myriad topics that include social issues, human interest, entertainment and profiles of difference-makers who are forging change in a constantly evolving society. Williams is a 40-year veteran journalist based in Indianapolis, IN – commonly referred to as The Circle City. Send comments or questions to: [email protected].