Participation ~ A robust democracy requires active participation.
The November 3rd election recorded historic voter turnout. This General Election, similar to many since 2000, also brought tremendous anxiety and fear of election consequences. Every 4 years it seems we are faced with monumental issues which generate an array of emotions and reactions. We are proud to live in America where we have a democratic system of government by the people. We exercise our right to vote and the majority determines changes in leadership and laws. Elections impact the way our government is run.
Elections require opponents to differentiate themselves from the other, which naturally causes division. The divide between parties and positions is extreme this year and unfortunate. Even people that live in the same household often have differing opinions. In 2020 we have so many barriers in front of us. We must work together to overcome those. We must get the economy back on solid ground with businesses and people thriving once again. We need to work together to heal our community and our nation.
In a democracy, we cast our vote and then government goes along with what the majority decides, whether we agree or disagree. It is not always easy to make sense of. The November Alliance General Membership meeting traditionally provides an opportunity to come together as a community to broaden our own narrow experience and to hear a wider perspective. Perhaps that is why these day-after-election meetings are always popular programs. We want to hear perspectives on both the local and the national level.
Political analyst Brian Sobel of Sobel Communications has a reputation for his political acumen and perspectives about candidates and elections. He has many years of experience in the private and public sectors. Brian has authored books, contributed articles, and has appeared on radio and television programs, receiving a variety of awards in connection with his work. Brian said more than a few things that were poignant. One was “It is all about participation!” The more voters turn out, the better it is for our country. He also said this Presidential election has a “razor thin” separation of votes just like we saw in 2000 and 2016. It is not over until all the votes are counted. “You voted! Congratulations!” Each voice is important. Brian reiterated that the next phase of democracy is uncomfortable while the votes are verified and the final winners are declared. He said “We’ve had three decades of this and we must be patient.”
Our Sonoma County ballots had a large number of local measures to extend or implement taxes. Brian said most analysts were stunned by their passage in difficult economic times. Yet voter participation appears to be the key. With higher voter turnout, the results tend to be more liberal and receptive to tax measures. The impacts of fire, homelessness and mental health in our County have been huge problems that voters feel need more funding to solve.
One thing is certain. We are living in an environment of accelerated change. What is needed is tolerance, acceptance and understanding of others. We don’t know what circumstances the other is dealing with in their lives. If I can stay calm and peaceful, can I bring that to others, even while there is chaos and uncertainty going on around us? That is my hope. And that is the call to action I’m presenting to you now. Be gentle with yourself because you are being impacted by today’s tension even if you haven’t identified it. Be tolerant and accepting of others as often as you can, even if it means not reacting or responding in that moment. Be aware and notice. We need to begin the process of healing. We need to work together to break down the barriers and divisiveness that exist in our country and community.
On the topic of participation, many of you participated in the Sonoma County Alliance Annual Membership Survey. Thank you so much for your participation! Some of the key take-aways include the 4 main reasons members join the Alliance: education on local issues, networking and connection to other business people, to be involved and help our community, and to have access to public officials and policy makers. The SCA vows to continue to provide that value to each of you as members. You said our mission of Healthy Economy, Healthy Environment, and Healthy Community is important to you. You believe we are doing the right thing by advocating for policies that support small business. Our committees will continue working to gain a deeper understanding of issues that affect the quality of life we experience here. We will bring that knowledge back through presentations at our regular General Membership Meeting and email updates. The Alliance will focus on growing diversity in leadership, geography, industry, age, and ethnicity as well as creating an environment where everyone feels welcomed and included. Thank you to each of you for taking the time to complete the survey to provide us with this critical feedback. And thank you to all of the committee members and volunteers that have spent many hours to move the Alliance forward. Your work has been very valuable and important.
The Alliance invites you to participate at a deeper level if you are interested. Applications for leadership roles will be available on the SCA website through November 23. Please consider participating and adding your voice to the conversation as we move into the future.
Please remember to be gentle with yourself and others as we traverse this changing landscape.
Have a great month!
Marlene Soiland, President
Sonoma County Alliance
We don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Unknown