3 Major Reasons Why This Election is the Most Deeply Concerning (+ Significant) in My ‘Immigrant-American’ Lifetime


Douette ‘Doc’ Cunningham

This summer marks 35 years since arriving to America from a Caribbean island. It feels almost like a coming-of-age as a naturalized citizen. A lot has been learned about the revolutionary history and civil rights story. So it feels like this election is the most deeply concerning and significant in my Immigrant-American lifetime.

In a way, the recent party conventions were like a day in the sun. For the GOP it left some viewers with sunburn. For the Dems it seemed to be a boost to their energy. A day in the sun can be good for all the enjoyment and vitamin ‘D’ benefits. In time we’ll see which one did the most to set voters on fire.

Soon we’ll have to choose between the political candidates running for President. Their positions seem to reflect a certain level of ‘knots-in-the-stomach’ among voters. As the campaigns unfold, the candidates try to tap into the pulse of the people. So what have I learned about America’s beating heart?

  1. The undercurrent of race keeps affecting our rhythm.
  2. The clash of cultures creates some schism.
  3. The voice of reason seems to be getting lost in the noise.

I think about the Rodney King and OJ Simpson incidents that riveted the nation. I consider events in Baton Rouge, Minnesota & Dallas and see how an undercurrent of race pulls us back and forth like ocean rip currents. This has some, including ‘Dreamers,’ dragged-out of rising with the tide on America’s shore.

That back and forth happens sometimes as a clash of cultures. It’s seen in how some issues play-out on the battleground for Middle Class America. Just ask comedian Jon Stewart and Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly. It’s seen in how social trends get fused into the storyline of our times. Just look at the popular hashtags.

The media tries to provide a snapshot of ‘the prevailing narrative.’ But these days it’s as if the narrative can become a bigger factor than an agenda for everyday people. Social scientists might explain this ongoing dilemma in human terms. Imagine if the left-brain and right-brain couldn’t co-exist in our heads?


The more extreme ends of the cultural spectrum attract social media trolls, clicks & views. Plus, there’s a Left & Right Brain battle for the American mind. Maybe within the past two to three decades we’ve seen the citizen mindset pulled here and there such that ‘to disagree’ and ‘to hate’ have gotten confused.

There’s also the ‘bumping-of-heads’ between ‘the Establishment’ and ‘the Grassroots.’ This is sometimes described in economic terms in the issue of income inequality. It’s also presented in social terms through criminal justice concerns. These aren’t ‘either-or’ issues but ‘both-and’ that people want to see changed.

It would be interesting to poll the public on the question: “Has the vibe in some circles become more reckless rhetoric than rhyme or reason? Over recent years it seems the voice of reason is becoming more and more out of season. That might explain the Reality-TV kind of fascination in this election.

Here we have in the red corner a candidate who’s a marketing mogul. His claim to fame in Real Estate comes from being profit-driven. In the blue corner is someone who’s on the doorstep of becoming the first female leader of the Free World. Both have prior backgrounds that’s been checked and re-checked.

They’re vying to become President of the United States of America. That’s a role usually fit for someone who hopes to advance a broader purpose with reforms that support the Constitution. So a question in voters’ minds is “who’s best suited to make the shift from Campaigner-in-Chief to Commander-in-Chief?”

This isn’t the first time I’ll vote in a Presidential election, having chosen from both sides. Whether that makes me an Independent is anyone’s guess. But one thing I’ve learned about America and the democratic process is that it shouldn’t be taken for granted. Too many bleeding hearts before us paid a high price.

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