Let it be the dream it used to be

What happened to America? What happened to the “melting pot” I learned about in elementary school? What happened to the country founded and fueled by immigrants? What happened to the American Dream and the land of opportunity? What happened to the strive for “liberty and justice for all”? What happened to the dreams of America which we have yet to truly fulfill?
The results of this election, no matter who you voted for, are staggering. Despite Americans going through a tumultuous eight months of sheltering in place and marching in the streets, this election was not a sign of change to come. Despite the current president being impeached by the House of Representatives for Abuse of Power and Obstruction of Congress, this election was not a removal from office. Despite the threads that hold our democracy together thinning, this election was not a stitch to keep it together until we can start to rebuild.
This election was not a landslide to make up for the past four years. This election was an embrace of this apparent new form of politics in America; one plagued by hyperpartisanship between political opponents and doing anything it takes to stay in power.
If America can’t be unified after people of color are killed in the streets, women and the LGBT community have to fight for their rights, and thousands of Americans die every day, what will it take?
What will it take for everyone in America to let me decide who I marry? What will it take for my pre-existing condition to not define if I’m allowed to get healthcare? What will it take for women in this country to have control over choices that affect them personally? What will it take for every single American to not only matter, but to be valued and respected?
One thing is clear: our work is not done. Despite the fact that Biden won, it is evident that America is still divided. I’m realizing now that I’ve spent the past year in the middle of my echo chamber. I was exposed to what I wanted to see, and I ignored the few sources contradicting my beliefs, hoping it was simply a minority. However, as we move on from this election, we need to work even harder to come together as a nation, and to create change not only locally, but nationally.
Part of that unity has to come from leadership from the president and other elected officials. However, the push for change in America needs to be an effort across the country, not just in D.C.
We need to engage not only the few voices in our local communities who we disagree with, but also those in farther reaching counties. We know that populous counties typically support progressive candidates; large cities are usually more diverse and democratic. Therefore, we need to protect the progress made in those cities, but also start engaging with smaller towns to bring about equality and change, and begin to change hearts and minds.
No matter who is in the White House, the battle for the soul of our nation lies in every single one of us. We all have the power to go out into communities and to create change, and we all need to harness that power.