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Saving America

As you know, I’ve been spending less time on my social media this year. I’ve allocated those hours instead to texting my community. It’s been a healthier exchange for everyone, but I personally love it because our conversations run deeper. Plus, there are zero trolls (they need an audience) or algorithms. The best part is the honesty because neither of us are afraid of being shamed or judged for our statements.

Over the weekend, I asked the thousands of you that I text with if you were voting and if so, who for? To no one’s surprise, the majority of my following answered, “Biden*.” I’d say about 75% of the texts. About 7% responded with, “Kanye.” It’s eye-opening, but also not entirely shocking. After all, I speak to a streetwear crowd, mostly young, male and into Kanye’s music. Some were half-serious about Ye, some wanted a non-politician in office, others just wanted to up-end the system. Another 7%-ish or so were staunchly Trump, with exhaustive justifications attached. There were a couple of religious reasons at play, one guy who said Ice Cube’s work with the Republicans last week pushed him over the line, but the red hats voiced the usual: Trump has done a lot of good in four years, the media is biased against him, and Biden sniffs children’s hair. The last 10% was a blend of Jorgensen, a few Howies, and anti-voting.

After I turned 18, the first presidential candidate I voted for was Ralph Nader with the Green Party. I was opposed to the idea of Bush or Gore, and the Republicans and Democrats in general. My rejection of a mainstream duality spoke to my personality, especially in my teenage years. More than backing Nader’s policies, I wanted to prove a point, refused to hop onboard a two-party system like the rest of the sheep, and believed all politicians were dishonest. So, I get it (I’m also aware that I probably inadvertently helped the GOP win that year).

There’s a large asterisk on those Biden votes btw. The majority of the people who said they were backing Biden are settling. In fact, I’d say most everyone who responded to my text is actually a Bernie and/or Yang supporter, reluctantly checking Joe’s box to extinguish the current administration.

Although “Anyone but Trump” and “Lesser of Two Evils” are baseline strategies to hobble a Democrat into office, they’re not sustainable plans for America’s political future. Don’t forget, there’s still a world after November 3rd. What do we do in 2024, 2028, and beyond? If we take my nationwide community as a small sample of the incoming class, it’s evident that young people’s relationship with the government is sputtering. A 2014 Harvard study found that only 31% of America’s youth trusted our nation’s leaders (I can only imagine how much further that number’s plummeted in the last six years). In 2016, the writer and academic Yascha Mounk reported that around the world, the youth are increasingly taking democracy for granted. Only a third of American millennials see civil rights as “absolutely essential” for a democracy. More than a quarter don’t see why we need free elections. These are the same kids who’ve been left with less opportunity for wealth and happiness, a ravaged planet, and emotional brokenness.

As much as we’re focused on Election Day, there’s a deeper crisis at hand. This earthquake was rumbling long before Donald Trump and will surface for years after. We must address the youth’s disenchantment with our political system and we need to do that by reconstructing the system itself. Let’s begin by nominating candidates whom the people – not the powers that be – are excited about. Independents are growing faster than parties with about 44% of the electorate. A majority of Americans want a viable third party – is it time to build on that energy?

Politics have always been corrupt, but with the transparency and immediacy of the Internet, we are all now privy to how the sausage gets made. It’s gross. These kids today, they’re gonna stop eating those sausages the more they learn about what goes in them. Then they’re gonna burn the factory down. And yes, I know there’s a glizzy joke in here somewhere.

When I tell people how much of my community sincerely thinks Kanye would make a great President, I get perplexed laughs and smug eyeball-rolling. Instead of making fun of Yeezy voters, we should ask them why they feel Mr. West is the best or only candidate. We should listen to what they need in a Leader and what convicts their hearts. And we should help them get to their destination, with better options, a renewed faith in our system, and people to believe in.

Because we all need people to believe in. Not perfect people, not sinless or blameless people, but people who are willing to make the sacrifices for a better and beautiful America. I still believe these people are out there and exist. I talk to them every day.

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