If you’re a citizen of the United States, living here or anywhere else in the world, I have one message for you tonight. If you haven’t already, please


The election of 2016 is vitally important not just for the future of our country, but for the world. Every four years, some politician or another tells us this is “the most important election in your lifetime.” While elections are consequential, most of the time the statement is meaningless hyperbole. In 2016, however, I believe it’s true. And I’m a historian, so I know what I’m talking about.


climate change icon pd

The future of the planet–literally the planet–is at stake. The most important issue we face in the United States and in the world is climate change. There is no more crucial, no more urgent problem on planet Earth. Who we choose as our leaders in this election will determine whether we meet this crisis head-on, before our cities are underwater and our children inherit a burnt-out wasteland of a planet, or whether we ignore it and essentially commit suicide as a species. Those really are the stakes. You think I’m exaggerating. I’m not.


independence hall

Our democracy is on trial. More than 200 years ago, in the room pictured above, the framers of the Constitution of the United States established a country based on an as-yet untried idea. When asked what the Convention created, Ben Franklin said, “A republic, if you can keep it.” Well, this election is nothing less than a referendum on whether we want to keep it, or whether we’ll let tribalism, xenophobia and greed divide and destroy us. Our democracy is on trial. If we choose to sacrifice it–if we decide it’s become too much trouble, too unwieldy, too slow, not worth saving–we will, all of us, go down together.


jfk with caroline pd

This election will, more than any other in recent history, decide who we are as a people. Are we compassionate problem-solvers, eager to lift each other up, build our communities, find workable answers to dilemmas that we all face–even if those answers are imperfect? Are we truly stronger together? Or are we all out for ourselves, committed to saving what’s ours and to hell with everyone else, deciding who is and who isn’t worthy of compassion or respect? This election is not just about our children, especially our daughters, but it’s about ourselves. How will our children see us in years to come? When they look back on the choices we made in 2016, will we be able to tell them we made the right one?



This man, who was voted into office by his fellow citizens twice, came to power in very divisive, violent and trying times. Passions were high. Tempers were flaring. There was the temptation to reach for the sword, and many did. He was not immune from these passions. But he also told us that we all must be “touched by the better angels of our nature.” He believed in Americans and he believed in America.

Do you?


No comments. No discussion. No tribal war chants, no nationalistic slogans, no jingoism, no criminations and recriminations. The time for all of that has passed. If you haven’t already cast your ballot, do it. The world waits for our decision. Time to make it.

The header photo is by me, and yes, it is legal in my state. I checked. The other images are, to my knowledge, public domain.