What’s the Right Answer?

By Eileen Gavin

Eileen Gavin MNA Political Organizer
Eileen Gavin
MNA Political Organizer

MNA Political Organizer

In the entryway of my house, I have a bust of President John F. Kennedy, so I start and end my day looking in the eyes of one of my heroes. The other night, another mass shooting, another black man- this one caring for a man with autism- shot by police, tears rolled down my cheeks. I had to turn it all off. I looked to JFK.

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.
-President John F. Kennedy

People in this country are angry. People are angry and fed up with gridlock and nothing being accomplished. Too many of our politicians and leaders waste away their time in office by bickering, blaming, and posturing. When people are hurting and in need, they look to lawmakers and those in power to do something. Every complaint is a request. We are angry about senseless gun violence, about working two jobs, about being crippled by college debt, about being unable to afford our medicines, about working 40 years and still being unable to retire.

During times like this filled with pain and injustice, we look for guidance, for hope. The hope I have is that the future is ours and that, together, we will make the right decisions to create a more just and decent world. I truly believe we are stronger together. I choose to believe that just as I choose to believe love will always beat out fear. If I don’t choose hope, I will be consumed by fear.

Next, I am going to choose to vote. While we may be angry, broke, and discouraged, we always the power to vote. We cannot waste it. I will channel my anger, my sadness, and my desire for fairness at the election. I will cast my vote not for the Republican answer or the Democrat answer, but for the right answer. What is the right thing for Minnesota, for our country, our families, and our future? Should we be putting up walls or building bridges? Should we fear and deport our neighbors or embrace our differences and work together? Should we support our families or big pharmaceutical companies? Should we invest in schools or prisons? Should we stand for equality or exclusion?

Maybe you don’t have a statue of your hero in your house, but before you vote, ask yourself, what would your hero do? Would he or she stand up for a party or a personality? Or would he or she speak up for a value or a principle? Right or Left, Republican or Democrat, there are values and principles that unite us. Family. Justice. Community. And these values exclude the talking points that it’s “us versus them.” These are values of unity, not hostility.

Fifty-six years, ago, JFK stood on the stage at the 1960 Democratic National Convention and declared that decade as a New Frontier. He asked us to work together to fight the ongoing problems of “peace and war,” “prejudice and ignorance,” and “poverty and surplus.” He said, “the times require imagination and courage and perseverance. I’m asking each of you to be pioneers towards that New Frontier.” Oh, the years have changed, but the call to action hasn’t. At the election booth, I will ask myself what answer moves us further, makes us safer, makes us whole. I will vote for the right answer. I think JFK would agree.