I grew up in a house with a Democrat and Republican, and I was always exposed to politics. For many years, I've gotten to travel around the world and witness other people's political processes, and I feel like we walk in rarified air in this country. We have the power to lift up our voice and say what we think and not be thrown in jail. But, with that fantastic right, we need to also learn how to exercise some compassion and reason, especially during elections. This is where I think we've gotten off track in the last few years. It can be very damaging to a political discourse that winds up pitting voters against each other.
About three months ago, I was talking with friends about how sick I was about the campaign and how I thought that it was so much about sensationalism and so little about issues that I wanted to start a petition. I had such a favorable reaction to that, and so many people reaching out saying, "I'll sign that petition." To shorten the campaign cycle, we went to Change.org and asked them how you go about doing this in a non-partisan fashion.
My petition really isn't about writing policy. I'm certainly not a policy maker. I'm first and foremost a mom. Secondly, I'm a working mom. Then, I’m an American and a musician. I make my living off of freedom of speech and I don't want in any way, shape, or form to minimize the importance of freedom of speech. So, this has to be looked at thoughtfully and intelligently between the two major parties and anyone else who wants to pull a chair up to that table and have a discussion about how we can — in protecting freedom of speech — create parameters that would prevent what we've just been through from starting all over again in two years, or even less.
No one benefits from our lengthy campaign cycles, except the media outlets and political pundits who are becoming well-known on TV as being experts and political consultants and lobbyists. It's not any more informative than if the campaign cycle were short.
After a certain point, it's so much about the ratings bonanza. It's so much about keeping people watching your 24-hour news cycle, that instead of talking about the issues — which would ultimately probably become much less exciting — what we're winding up focusing on is a lot of really ugly stuff. Personally, I started watching the second presidential debate and had to turn it off because I could feel a sense of nervousness and frustration come over me that I could feel was not healthy.
I would like to see us reinstate some sort of reverence or some sort of respect for the office and president so that we can at least feel good about our election, feel good about participating in the election. I come from the standpoint of being a mom with small children and being nervous about having the news on and the kind of hate speech that we've been hearing during this campaign.
Certainly, there are other problems in our election system, other than our lengthy campaign seasons. If I had a magic wand and could fix things, I would certainly wave my wand over Citizens United. I think it's vulgar how much political campaigns raise, but that's a Supreme Court issue and not one that a petition is going to be able to fix. Ultimately, I would like to see term limits. I think that would eliminate some of what we're seeing with the president being in office for two years and then campaigning for the latter two years.
It isn't about who I vote for. It's not about who you vote for. It's about not letting this kind of vitriol take over our election process.
However, at least with our campaign to shorten the election, we're trying to galvanize a movement to go to the major two parties and say, "We are the constituents that all these parties work for, and we demand a more civilized process." At least we're taking a step towards being proactive.
Moreover, it’s important to me to make sure both major parties are involved because I don't think it's a partisan issue. I think it's been ugly on both sides, and it's become ugly as far as the way we speak to each other as people and caring, conscientious voters. It's really been a divisive election, and it isn't about who I vote for. It's not about who you vote for. It's about not letting this kind of vitriol take over our election process.
There are a lot of people in this country that are hurting, and there is a lot of fear about our security, about our economy. This presidential election should be about talking about ways to quell those fears, and to address how we're going to fix the economy and how we're going to fix the problems that people live with every day. Instead, the sound bites that we've been getting and been hearing everyday, all day long, have to me created a lot of nervousness and a lot of anxiety, as opposed to confidence or any feeling of hope.
To join our campaign to shorten the election cycle, sign our petition at Change.org
Image: Bry Crasch/Bustle
As told to Emily Shire