The 2016 presidential election year is upon us Americans. As the parties narrow on a candidate, it feels as though the atmosphere manages to get even more polarized. Eventually we start hearing the stories from friends and family, to even celebrities, stating “If [candidate I hate] get’s elected, I’m moving to Canada!”. We then all laugh once candidate X is elected (especially if we were a fan) as said person(s) don’t move to Canada.
Even though we know most people are not literally serious when they state this, I feel it highlights a bigger issue that we don’t talk about enough. Simply put, we place way too much importance on who holds the U.S. Presidential office. When we say “I’m moving to Canada”, we’re essentially saying that the fight is over, there is no hope, even though we don’t actually pack up our bags and move. Which indirectly is stating, that there’s nothing we can do as an individual or community. That out of all the issues America faces, no non-profit, grassroots organization or group of concerned citizens can do anything to make things better. All the power and potential rests solely in the presidency. This is simply not true.
I won’t go into the plethora of examples of people who have made a difference in America without being president. Thus, while the POTUS position is certainly an important item to discuss and be concerned about, it is hardly the end-all-be-all of one’s existence as a U.S. citizen. Conversely, if your favorite candidate were to get elected, such a view of the presidency would allow one to feel “Great! My pick got in! They will fix everything and I can sit back and watch.”
Both conclusions are an actionless state. If we want to make a difference, helping efforts for positive change in the community will go much farther than any box we check on the ballot. So, this year, I encourage you to go out and find a group of people in your city who are working on something that speaks to you and join them, in addition to hitting the polls.