Nationally, we’ve just closed what has been a bitter, divisive campaign season that has left deep, open wounds for millions of Americans. There’s much that remains unknown about what we can expect in the months to come, but what I do know is that now more than ever our progressive movement requires focus and an “all hands on deck” approach.
Beyond the results of one election, however, the deeper tragedy is that as Americans we have become alienated from each other. Beneath the anger, distrust and divisiveness is a pervasive anxiety that we are becoming unglued instead of coming together as a nation.
If we want to preserve the foundation of our democracy, it’s vital that we find common ground that allows us to work for the greater good of this nation. This does not mean giving up our values. This does not mean swallowing a bitter compromise. Finding common ground means reaching out with respect and aloha, despite the issues that divide us, despite the hurt, despite the fear, and recognize what unites us as human beings.
If you believe the angry box in your living room, you might conclude that America is so deeply divided that finding common ground is impossible. But I don’t believe that for a second. When I walk around my neighborhood, the grocery store, or the farmers market, I don’t see Democrats or Republicans, Progressives or Conservatives. I see my brothers and sisters - living, breathing human beings, with diverse and complicated stories, views and desires that can’t be packaged neatly in a box. I see their fear and anxiety. I see their frustration with a government they don’t feel is listening to them. And I see that there are vast tracts of unexplored, common ground between us. With virtually no exceptions, we want our children to thrive and to feel safe in their home and in their neighborhood. We want peace, justice and the natural prosperity that results from hard work and innovation.
As I look at the way forward, I acknowledge there are challenges, and I choose to see opportunity. We have an opportunity to articulate a vision for peace by ending counterproductive regime-change wars. We have an opportunity to stand firm in our resolve to stop destructive trade deals. We must continue to illustrate the impacts that climate change is already having on communities around the world—especially our islands—and move forward on the issues that matter to us.
I hope you will join me as we start down this path toward real reform and progress. And as always, continue to fight for equality and respect for all people, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or any other external difference.