New Year’s Day is often a time of contemplation and reflection.
We pause to consider our triumphs and trials during the past year, look back at where we did well and where we fell down, and resolve to do better.
Most of the time this is a personal journal and reckoning, but today I would like to expand it to our politics. I didn’t vote for President Trump or for Hillary Clinton. I have in my life and career voted for both parties and worked for candidates on all sides. Today I am a proud independent and see the need for new parties to arise that better represent the majority of Americans who feel our two legacy parties no longer fit our needs in the 21st century.
That day is coming. As I said, I didn’t vote for Donald Trump, and have criticized him quite a bit since he was inaugurated nearly a year ago.
I have also at times lauded him for things he’s done well, but his achievements have been spotty at best.
The president has done much damage to our country’s ability to come together for the common good and has jeopardized the pursuit of truth in his words and actions. I’ll continue to point this out. But this year I want to do it more from a place of kindness and compassion. I don’t hate President Trump. I think we need to get to a point in our politics where we can stand up and fight for truth and justice without hating the person we criticize or, even worse, by demanding others hate to prove they are strong and on the side of good or right.
Hate for me may temporarily satisfy an emotional need or impulsive desire but doesn’t sit well for long. It doesn’t fit the type of person I want to be or, more importantly, the kind of world I desire to live in or leave my children or anyone else’s children. My resolution for 2018 is to speak and act more from a place of love and surround myself with people on that same path, who desire to maintain integrity in their lives and expect the same from others.
I don’t care if you are a Democrat, Republican or independent. If you want to move out into the world from a place of loving-kindness in pursuit of the truth, then you are the leaders we need. But if you enable hate or division, or take an “ends justify the means” approach to winning political or policy victories, then as an American and a human being, I will push back — not with anger or bitterness, but with compassion and a regard for the value of all human beings.
Anger has its place. It can rouse us from comfortable lives to fight for decency, justice and human rights, and that is necessary.
But staying angry won’t make the world a better place in the long run. It will only replace one set of angry, hateful leaders with another who just happen to wear our team’s jersey.
President Trump has the lowest approval rating of any president in modern times. He isn’t liked or respected by most people at home or abroad. That hurts our democracy and our role as a moral leader in the world promoting the inherent right of all people to achieve their highest potential and live a fulfilled, happy life.
He has been a disruptive and at times destructive force by exacerbating divisions by race, gender, religion, nationality, and income.
But amid this disruption I see hopeful and positive signs as we begin 2018.
I see folks from different walks of life and political perspectives coming together to rebuild or uphold standards of behavior and institutions that we need and hunger for. People who may have had nothing to do with each other before last year have realized that the values we share are more important than our political differences.
These values include believing that kindness is strength, love is stronger than hate, and beauty is found in every corner of the globe regardless of fame or fortune.
I will give the president and others who have enabled him along his negative path -- especially GOP and evangelical leaders -- many chances this year to show they also will put these values at the center of our conversations.
I will try each day to see those with whom I have political differences in an open, kind way as I push and prod them to put country over party, and community over profit. When they don’t do this, I’ll call them out, but not in a mean-spirited or judgmental manner.
And if the president and the GOP don’t change in 2018, they are going to see the American people stand up in 2018 and 2020 and choose leaders who share the values at the heart of what it means to be a son or daughter of God, to be human. I hope you will join with me on this journey. I don’t need to hate anyone to prove I value love, kindness and justice. I accept that many will call me naive or even worse, and I can live with that. What I can’t live with, is a life and world filled with anger and hate, no matter how right I think I am.
Matthew Dowd is an ABC News analyst and special correspondent. Opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of ABC News.