Category: Politics

911 Memorial
Looking Back on 9-11-2001

When I began to work on the first season of the Gen2Gen Podcast, I didn’t know where it would lead me.

Many of you know that I have spent parts of my life deeply involved in various political efforts; including two campaigns of my own. The first time I ran, it was the winter of 2002-03 in a special election and the wounds of 9/11/01 were still fresh and raw. The most-recent campaign was in 2017-18.

Both were different in their unique ways, but what I was fighting for really hasn’t changed.

What has is my perspective.

On the day when everything changed for us here in the States, I was merely 17 years old. I was a senior in high school. I was unsure of my future. And I was still very much in the closet.

I speak as the narrator on the podcast and share my own experiences of that day, but as a senior and soon-to-be “adult” I had a different perspective on the world. I knew there was evil in the world, but it had never really shown its face to me. But that changed. And we changed.

We passed new laws. We joined one war and began another. We lost many thousands of lives and hurt many more. And we, for a time, were together.

But that was always going to fade.

But we have faded so far from where we started.

We can’t even date people who have a different world-view. We can’t be friends with or have a beer with people who see the world differently. I cherish those relationships where there are different opinions. It’s what makes us … well, us. One of the podcast guests, Yad Conrad, a native Iraqi now living in California said something towards the end of his interview that struck a cord with me.

He was speaking about how despite our differences — and there are many — what he continues to be drawn to is our human-to-human connection. And it’s true, that’s our common bond. And President Kennedy said it best, “For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”

That is our common bond.

And it’s true. We need to continue to show ourselves worthy of this American experiment which has stood for nearly two and a half centuries. But it takes conversation. It takes compromise. It takes a community of people willing to stand up and do the hard work. To listen. To run into a building that was just hit with an airplane. It takes the heart of someone overtaking a plane to save countless lives on the ground. It takes guts. It takes passion. And I know we can do it. We have done it before.
And we can do it again. 

Gen2Gen Podcast, General, Politics
Even in Losing the Election, I’m Ready to Serve 1
Even in Losing the Election, I’m Ready to Serve

When I got into this race for the Iowa House, I planned on winning. And I still believe I was the best candidate to represent my district. A district with a diverse mix of school districts. A district with suburban and rural voters. A district with main street communities and national brand potential.

I believe we need leaders who see the future and who are the future.

And the future isn’t black or white. Red or blue. The future is somewhere in the gray. It is in the conversations. It is in the compromise. It is in saying no to tribalism and segregation and yes to unification under one agenda and a community of people who believe it is more important to do good than it is to win.

Even in Losing the Election, I’m Ready to Serve 2

A friend recently went on a date and was told they could only be in a relationship with someone who also identified as a Liberal Democrat. I have lost friends over the years because I didn’t support the right candidate. Or the right party. And this past election saw many posts (and even emails from candidates) telling people to just vote for someone based on the letter after their name.

I tried to bridge the divide throughout the campaign and repeatedly I was rebuffed. I reached out to both the Republican and Democratic parties to encourage a debate. Silence. I reached out to the candidates themselves. Silence.

On top of that, the parties and many politicians today are all about exploiting our differences for their own advantage to raise money and win elections. Rarely do they focus on engaging with those who disagree or see the world differently. And when we do get candidates who work to bring people together for the common good, the vultures attack — oftentimes their own — because compromise has now become the third-rail in American politics.

And it’s destroying us.

We have reached a critical point in our country and it has absolutely nothing to do with President Trump. It has everything to do with us.

The majority of Republicans and Democrats believe the “other side” to be the enemy. (via Baker Center at Georgetown)

41% of Democrats would be disappointed if someone in their family married a Republican. And 26% of Republicans feel the same way. (via Axios)

These trends have been brewing for nearly six decades. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the Washington Post from 2015. These charts tell the story.

We are better than any letter behind our name. We are better than our education level. We are better than our professions. And we are better than who we love. It is time, once and for all, for identity politics to come to an end and for all of us to unite in a new mission: Rebuild our country.

When I kicked off my campaign, I had two promises:

  • I would always be willing to listen to my constituents (they would have been my bosses, after all), and,
  • I would only support policy which lifted everyone up and left no one behind.

Those are two promises I will keep. The fight goes on. We have work to do.

We need to continue to have conversations about how to work together on bringing people-focused solutions to a vote.

We need to continue to force our elected representatives to listen to us, the voters, and not party caucuses. We need to continue to demand results and no more status quo. (And not results of bills passed that are toothless, or that refuse to acknowledge facts.

And we need to continue to stand up where there aren’t enough voices and sit down and listen where there are too many.

And I am ready. Are you? Let’s do this; together.