Our national redemption gave me the catharsis I needed to process a cycle of depression and anxiety that started exactly four years ago today. I’m finally ready to share my story from that day.

When Trump appeared to be winning after midnight on November 9, 2016, I was the only one still awake at my parents’ house in Ohio, where I’d spent the past four days getting out the vote. I asked on Facebook: “What to say to the millions of Americans who’ve been told they don’t belong here?” It wasn’t a rhetorical question. …

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Never forget 9/11. Commit to stopping further preventable tragedies.

I’ll never forget the 3,000 Americans killed on 9/11/2001. The attack traumatized me as a 7th grader and set me on the path to working on international security. But I’ll also never forget the 200,000 (and counting) Americans killed by Trump’s decision — recorded on tape — to downplay the threat of coronavirus even though he said it could have a kill rate as high as 5%. And we now know letting the virus run rampant was a conscious political decision because blue states like New York were hit hardest near the beginning.

Trump claimed he wanted to avoid panic, but all he does is incite panic after panic with exaggerated claims about “ANTIFA” or “terrorists.” Just this week, a top intel analyst at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revealed its Trump-appointed leadership manipulated intelligence reports and lied to Congress to exaggerate threats that fit Trump’s (bogus) political narratives and to downplay real threats, making us all less safe. …

If you look at the only two viable presidential tickets and wish you had more options, I know how you feel because I actively campaigned for other candidates not on the ballot. But instead of surrendering America to corruption and mass deaths, we need to understand how we got here and work together to advance systemic reforms — namely Ranked-Choice Voting — to democratize future elections.

How Our Current System Rewards Negativity and Restricts Choices

When we’re only allowed one vote in a crowded primary, it’s easier to focus on a few imperfections for each candidate in order to eliminate them from consideration, rather than comparing their qualifications as a whole. …

When I started teaching history and civics in Lebanon during the so-called Arab Spring in 2011, I hoped a new generation would be able to overcome sectarianism and clientelism in order to build a more inclusive, effective democracy. Back then, the United States was seen as an example to the world. But in recent years, America has become more sectarian in its own ways, with increasing levels of corruption, incompetence, and conspiracies that remind me of Lebanon. …

Raised as a Cleveland sports fan, I understand the nostalgia and attempts to justify the “Indians” branding as a symbol of respect for Native Americans. I failed to see “Chief Wahoo” as a racist caricature until I was older and comparisons were made to other racialized team names and mascots. But now, when we see alleged fans paint themselves red and threaten to quit watching baseball if the name changes, do we really think they’re motivated by respect for the original inhabitants of the Cuyahoga Valley?

Instead of rage-tweeting support for names and mascots that studies show are “psychologically detrimental to Native American students,” there are more sincere ways to honor and support indigenous peoples that involve listening to and responding to their needs. Native American organizations in Northeast Ohio unanimously support changing the name, so we should too. …

Cancellations have always happened, with historic figures literally fighting to the death and being remembered or forgotten based on their reputations. Or as Hamilton: An American Musical puts it: “You have no control: Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?

Whatever criticisms about historical accuracy can be nitpicked about Hamilton, the major plot points are accurate. Alexander Hamilton canceled his own political career by writing the Reynolds Pamphlet. Then Aaron Burr got his own political career canceled by dueling and killing Hamilton. No one is safe from cancel culture, but can we learn to live with it? Should we?

In just the five years between the premiere of the musical in 2015 and the release of #Hamilfilm in 2020, Hamilton and Lin-Manuel Miranda have gone from enduring calls for cancellation from right-wingers offended by non-white actors portraying America’s Founders as complex and flawed — to calls for cancellation by left-wingers who accuse Lin-Manuel of “whitewashing” the American Revolution like a neoliberal apologist. …

President Trump tries to hijack the meaning of the American flag by wrapping himself in false patriotism again and again as he tramples the rights embodied by Old Glory⁠ — revealing himself and his followers to be star-spangled hypocrites. But our flag should stand for freedom, and Trump can’t take that away.

The day after President Obama left office and White House staff said our farewells as he and Michelle boarded their final flight on Air Force One, I donned my “Captain America” hoodie and joined the Women’s March to show patriotic solidarity. …


Kyle Herman

Working to save democracy. Formerly @ObamaWhiteHouse. Taught history in Lebanon. @OhioWesleyan & @Kennedy_School alum. Support @RankTheVoteOhio. Views mine.

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