Election Day 2020 – Special Edition

It is Election Day. I suppose it is all over but the crying, now, or at least it will be in a few hours. This election has been hard on everyone. Way too much division. Too many friends fighting over things that really don’t affect their everyday lives. No one knows how things are going to shake out yet, but I hope that every vote cast by eligible voters is counted, without a bunch of divisive infighting. We may disagree on a lot of things, but having an election decided by actually counting the votes should not be one of them. More than anything, I hope that whoever comes up short at the end of the count accepts their loss with dignity and that whoever comes out on top accepts their win with humility. We have been divided on many fronts, but we are one people and neither side can afford to lose the other. Honestly, it is the political parties that are so solidly divided in their visions for our country. When you get down to it, most folks don’t live at the far edges of the spectrum. We are mostly a mix of red values and blue ideas. So, please, won’t you join me now as we stand and make Purple.

Yep, Purple, because that is who we are. There are no red states and no blue states there are only varying shades of purple. They love to throw up that map of starkly divided red and blue states, or broken down by counties, the red rural areas surrounding the blue cities. Looks pretty divided, doesn’t it. But take a look at maps where they integrate all of the votes and across this country it is purple. Sure, there are some small pockets of more solid color, but mostly we are shades of somewhere in between, lots of democrats in the country, plenty of republicans in the cities and suburbs, independents all over. More and more of those independents as people get frustrated with parties who only want to see in red and blue.

If we are honest, most everyone has some conservative leanings and some more liberal beliefs. None of us actually fit the party platforms all the way down the line, no one who is bothering to read those platforms and think them through, anyway. We are bigger than those definitions. We contain multitudes and contradictions and that is what makes us wonderful. There are very few true extremists and iconoclasts, thank goodness. Of course, we hear a lot about them, because they are newsworthy. The “radical left” and the “far right” make for better ratings, because they are not the norm. They are the unusual cases, they do not represent the majority of either party. Most of us live somewhere closer to the center. We may believe in healthcare being a right, but staunchly oppose abortion. I, honestly, have not met a single person who is actually for open borders, but I have met a lot of folks on both sides who believe that our current border security and immigration practices need work. I know lots of democrats and republicans who support the 2nd amendment, but who also see places where we can do better on controlling gun violence. I am proud to live in a country where we are not only allowed to disagree with each other and our government, but where we are encouraged to speak up for the things we believe in. Where the right to be different, to disagree and to proudly stand up for our beliefs is protected in the first amendment. So, when I look out across America, I don’t see walls of red or waves of blue, I see us all mixed up, a bunch of purple, as it should be.

I am not going to credit this drink, because I am pretty sure I am breaking some sort of code of silence and secrecy by sharing it in the first place. I am making some small changes so I am not “technically” revealing it, but I am pretty sure I am supposed to disavow any knowledge whatsoever and deny its very existence. I was initiated into the Purple and baptized in it many moons ago, when I joined an incredibly diverse group of folks who have taught me an awful lot. People from all backgrounds, races, lifestyles, you name it, all working together toward a generally more positive future. Over the years, I have learned a great deal about leadership, fair play, accountability and humility from them. More importantly, I have learned to look deeper, before making up my mind about something. I have learned to be open to changing my viewpoint as I learn more and I have been exposed to many, many more perspectives, which has taught me to try to look at all situations through different eyes, to recognize privilege where I did not know it before. Suffice it to say that this drink has been in my life for many years and has provided more than a few headaches along the way. I have enjoyed it both casually and ceremonially and while I always approach it with a certain reverence, I usually depart with congenial familiarity. This drink is traditionally made in much larger quantities, but Liam helped me with some math and we have created this single-ish serving size for your pleasure. Yeah, seriously, as part of his one-room schoolhouse education, I assigned the boy a ratio problem converting the gallon+ size batch down to eight easy ounces, cause I am a good parent, who believes in the value of a wide and varied education. 

Grab your tins and pop in 2 ounces of lemon infused Rum, I went with Bacardi Limon, cause it was cheap; 1 ounce of Vodka, Monkey Head, naturally; 1 ounce of Blue Curacao for the democrats, 1 ounce of grenadine for the republicans, 3/4 of an ounce of lemon juice, 3/4 of an ounce of lime juice and half an ounce of simple syrup for the folks in between. Toss in 2-3 drops of Bittermen’s Elemakule Tiki Bitters, a little too much purple lustre dust, cause we need more sparkliness in the mix, add ice and give it a good shake to the beat of Ray Charles’ “America, the Beautiful”. If we can find common ground on nothing else, surely we can agree that his version of this great song is amazing. We really should all sing along as we shake this drink, seriously, sing it with Ray and remember what this is really all about. When your tins are good and cold and he has crowned our good with brotherhood, strain this one over ice into something tall and mouthy, garnish with the patriotic hopes of every American that we can move forward as a nation, united by a common dream of liberty, and some lemon and lime wheels. Go to your bedside and grab your copy of the Declaration of Independence and The Constitution to lean beside it. Toss in a red straw and a blue straw, because democracy is supposed to be about choice. You third party folks are gonna have to bring your own straws. Sorry, but it is what it is, as they say. You be you, it is still a free country, from sea to shining sea.

It is tall, it is refreshing, it is purple. Purple like a bruise? Purple like the rain of a lost Prince? Purple like the passions that wash through the hearts of every man, woman and child as they celebrate this less than perfect, but oh so precious form of democracy. A government, of the people, for the people and by the people. Lincoln spoke about that, he said a lot of good things, some troubling ones too, he was human, like all of us. I have invoked him way too many times over the last few years, and I truly hope and pray that we all hear the most important lines of his first inaugural address. A speech given after seven states had declared their secession from this union, just a month before the first shots would be fired at Fort Sumter. There is a lot to process in this relatively short speech, you should take the time to read it in its entirety, perhaps today more than ever. I often quote Lincoln at this moment, when he turns to “the better angels of our nature” to preserve the strained bonds of affection, but I don’t usually give the full context. The words of a man, desperately trying to preserve his country, a country on the verge of a civil war in which brother fought brother, where friends found themselves on the opposite sides of a line drawn in the hearts of the men who had sworn to uphold and defend their country. So tonight, I give you, not just the famous last line, but the preceding thought, so passionately and succinctly put by a true leader.

“In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect, and defend it.”

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Address March 1861

It is too easy to have our passions stirred by those who would benefit from strife and division, by those who would rather fight, to lash out in anger. But we are, and must be, better than that. We must search for the common ground which is a lot easier than the folks at the edge would have you believe. Though we may disagree on how to get there, we must never forget that the goal is a better world. A world free from the things which would pull us apart. A world where all of our voices can be heard. A world where all receive the respect, dignity, equality and freedom they deserve. A country where we, once again, have a government that answers to the people from which all of its power flows. A government which finally fulfills, for all, that promise in the Consititution to secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. That is what we the people deserve, but to get there we must hold those who we elect accountable and we must always remember, there is no them, there is only us. There is no red, there is no blue, only purple. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.