Gary Horton | 2020: An Election about Character in Our Nation

Gary Horton

More than ever before, this 2020 election is about character. About the attributes and features that make up and distinguish our nation, state and relationships, one with another. 

Ultimately, the election reflects your personal character. You, the guy making the pick. How you see the world. Who you’re willing help and who you’ll leave behind. 

Are we our “brother’s keeper,” as the Bible says, or, is that just for Sundays — and on the six other days it’s “every man for himself?” How do your beliefs about our societal responsibility to one another reflect in those you vote to represent us? And how do their policies propel your values?

What will be the character of our nation going forward? How will our next president behave toward U.S. citizens — and to the world at large? 

Will national politics become more inclusive or shall we further stir animosity – even hate between our people, cultures and states? Does the tenor and tone of our politics and national debate matter? 

What of personal conduct and integrity in our leaders? Shall we hold our leaders to the same standards of conduct we routinely expect from family members and neighbors? 

Will you stand up and insist on strong personal character to reflect the face of our nation to all?

And, shall our national government function to further progress for Americans — or is it a tool empowering corporations to monetize our citizens? 

Shall we care about equal access to human needs such as health care? Shall we care about child care, to build a healthy citizenry? 

Shall we protect the Social Security and Medicare our senior citizens rely on? 

Shall we work to progress toward clean energy, a cleaner environment, or are we OK with forever just “burning stuff?” Shall we commit to rebuilding infrastructure or are we OK with an aging status quo? 

Our California ballot is chock full of meaty initiatives. Which way shall we head for our criminal justice systems? 

More, “lock ’em up and throw away the key?” 

Or, shall we further seek to improve law enforcement and rehabilitation of criminals? Money bail, tremendously biased against the poor, is back on the ballot to reclaim its pound of flesh on society. Do we go backward to a wealth-biased relic or forward to a more just system?  

Shall we exempt drivers and delivery workers from the same employment benefits as the rest of us, or shall they be zero-benefit workers with no security or employee rights?

How do we view our privacy in our digital, internet-connected world? Shall we control information about ourselves or shall our lives be further monetized outside our control? Is our privacy our own or a corporation’s trove to exploit?

Is our process of taxation fair between private citizens and business interests? Is commercial real estate the same as private dwellings or, shall commercial and industrial property be reassessed as business rents and incomes increase or decrease? Commercial property is often held for decades and is generally infrequently reassessed. Should businesses have this relative tax break or, in a high-tax state, shall we further burden the businesses we need to exist? 

This is an exciting election. One that 52% of the population has impatiently waited for since 2016. Some say democracy itself is on the ballot, as we have a president who says he can’t commit to the peaceful transfer of power if he loses! 

Right behind democracy itself are all the issues of character – those features and policies that make up and distinguish our state and country. 

This is no election to sit by! The character of California awaits your vote. The very future of America awaits your vote!

This is a soul-searching election. What we stand for and what won’t we abide. In the end, as we vote, we are. The marks we make on our ballots also mark out commitment to our own values. 

Your choices for our future are your personal character in action.

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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