An Inclusive America

In 155 days, the United States will be faced with the most consequential election of my lifetime, and I think its safe to say, of all of our lifetimes. Over the past eight years we’ve seen an unprecedented amount of partisanship, arguing, and rage that has consumed American politics. President Obama ran on a message of change, he instilled hope in me, and millions of people in this country. President Obama ran his campaign on a call to end hyper-partisanship and move forward together as one nation to get things done for the American people and for the people of the world. President Obama was able to galvanize our nation with three very important words. Yes, We Can. Before Barack Obama was known throughout the country, he delivered the Keynote Address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Some say this was the best speech Barack Obama has ever delivered. For me, it is a testament to the idea that nothing is impossible. President Obama said during his convention speech: “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. If you observe the two major political parties today though, you will see an obvious and clear distinction. On the ballot in November, you will find two starkly different paths for America. If you want to live in an inclusive America, the choice is clear. The United States of America was built on the ideals of freedom, pursuit of happiness, and liberty and justice for all. Abraham Lincoln once said: “A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand” We are the UNITED States of America, and we ought to always strive to reach common ground, in pursuit of common goals, on the pathway to a better America, a more inclusive America, and a more loving and peaceful America. Unfortunately, Indiana has seen first hand what happens when we elect a governor who cares more about dictating who you love, instead of fixing the crumbling infrastructure of the crossroads of America or bringing good paying jobs to Indiana. Pence must go. How can we be an inclusive state or country when our laws do not yet reflect who we are as people? We need leaders in this state who are going to stand up for not some, but for all Hoosiers. This past year, I have truly learned so much. Most importantly though, I’ve learned how vital it is to truly listen to one another. We may disagree from time to time, but what is important is that in America, we should be able to disagree and still be friends. At Hanover, I have many conservative friends, but that doesn’t stop me from having political conversations with them so I can better understand them and where they’re coming from. The United States cannot continue down the path of hyper-partisanship, we just simply cannot. If we want to make real progress we must open our hearts and our minds, we must challenge the status quo, we need to think bigger and reach higher. The Democratic Party is sometimes referred to as a big tent. Well it’s true we do have a big tent. The Democratic Party is full of black and white people, gay and straight people, old and young people, rich and poor people, and that is exactly what makes our party and our country great. We are a diverse nation, with unique people from many different backgrounds and many different walks of life. We owe it ourselves and we owe to future generations of our world to not only reach for the stars in everything we do, we must start by reaching across the aisle. A couple months ago I had the honor of hearing Former Indiana Governor Evan Bayh speak at the Floyd County Jefferson Jackson dinner. He spoke very eloquently about the need for bi-partisanship and the great need for our state and for our country to be unified. He even quoted Ronald Reagan. “A man who can’t settle for a half a loaf of bread, has never had to go to bed hungry.” All of us, collectively, will succeed more, accomplish greatness, and ensure a bright future when we work together side by side, hand and hand, and when we vow to ourselves to never give up. This election in November is about more than deciding on a blue path or a red path for America, this election is about who we are as people, it’s about what the United States stands for today. We can not let our country be plunged down in the gutter with Donald Trump. We can’t elect a man who thinks what makes America great is what is wrong with America. Diversity is a strength not a weakness. We must use the power of the ballot box this November, but more importantly we have brains to think, mouths to speak, and ears to listen. Let’s use all of these tools to have the hard conversations with people we may not agree with. Let’s open our hearts and our minds to walks of life we may not be as comfortable with, and lets recognize and never forget that an inclusive America is a great America.

Evan Stoner

June 4th, 2016

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