Making a difference for democracy beyond our bubble

I urge you to take action — for your own well-being and that of the country.

I remember exactly where I was when the results of the 2016 election became official, and the shock and disbelief that followed.

I remember how it drove wedges into some of my closest relationships, especially with my mother and best friend, who voted for Trump without researching what his presidency would bring to Americans and the world.

I do not want to go through that again.

Fortunately, by 2020, most of my loved ones — including my mom — realized they’d made a mistake, and that the policies, practices and people Trump put into power were the worst the country has ever known.

In 2020, the majority of Americans agreed, and elected a leader with a different vision.

The first three and a half years of the Biden presidency have seen tremendous improvements in many aspects of American life, and there’s much more to do.

For me, the past eight years have revealed stark differences between how Democrats, and those who consider themselves Republicans in the time of the MAGA movement, view the world and define democracy.

On the eve of the upcoming elections, I am concentrating less on the two presidential candidates as individuals, and more on the views they represent.

One view is dark, regressive, oppressive, self-centered and focused on a narrow definition of the human experience — not only in America but around the world. This view doesn’t take science seriously (from COVID to the climate), believes women should not be in control of their own bodies, and thinks that anyone should be able to own guns made for war.

The other view is bright, inclusive and focused on creating an America and a world where everyone can excel and define themselves. This view believes in science and the right of women to decide what to do with their bodies. It believes that the disgusting, record-profit of gun sales pale in comparison to the value of so many innocent lives lost to gun violence.

By focusing primarily on Biden and Trump, I think we’re missing a much bigger picture. It’s too easy to find fault with each of them (and, for that matter, with every human) and to waste time arguing small, petty matters.

Here on Vashon-Maury Island, the vast majority of people share my feelings. While we have challenges, we are fortunate to live on an island — and in a state — which is largely “blue.”

But that makes it easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. We must reach out beyond the island bubble.

Reaching critical voters “beyond our bubble” may feel challenging. In the lead up to the 2016 election, I believed there was no way Hillary could lose, so I didn’t get involved.

That led to a great deal of depression, anger and disappointment in myself when she lost. I found many people felt the same way.

I can’t, and won’t, go back to how I felt during the Trump presidency. That raises the question: “What can I do differently to have an impact outside of our island?”

My answer is to get involved, and yes, that takes some time and energy. I’m doing all I can to ensure there’s not a MAGA president, Senate or House — and all the consequential damage that would create.

This course of action is positive, not negative. It gives me strength instead of draining it. It creates hope, not despair.

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings,” when Frodo realizes a great evil is returning to the world, he says in despair to the wizard Gandalf: “I wish it need not have happened in my time.”

Gandalf responds with simple yet timeless advice: “So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Like Frodo, we may not want to face the risk of another Trump presidency.

But I urge you to take action — for your own well-being and that of the country. We can’t have anyone sitting on the sidelines. And, like it or not, we only have two real choices. Again, it’s not about the individual running, but what they represent.

There are many ways to get involved, from texting and writing, phone banking and more. Even if you have a limited amount of time to dedicate to preserving democracy, it’s worth it.

Don’t know where to start? I encourage you to stop by the “Beyond Our Bubble: Mobilizing for Democracy” Fair on Saturday, May 18 from noon to 2 p.m. at the Land Trust building.

Find an action that appeals to you to help ensure America’s future is one in which not only are “all men created equal,” but all people are also treated equally— and in which we are not only allowed the “pursuit of happiness,” but also the freedom to find it.

James H Rickard III is a member of Indivisible Vashon.