This is an even-numbered year, and so it is the season of elections.
Every candidate, and every party, is seeking to make its case to the voters.
So you are going to hear a lot of things from a lot of people -- and as voters, you will get to decide whom you trust… and who will receive your vote.
That's democracy. Even when elections are hard-fought, they are peaceful. And that is something we should be proud of.
But I am seeing a disturbing trend in our politics.
I am seeing the politics of what I call "50 plus 1." Politicians aren't trying to make the best case to the broadest number of people.
They are only looking for 50% of the vote, plus one. A bare majority. Enough to win - and that's it.
And so they pursue a campaign strategy of building half a house, divided against itself.
We are seeing it in the claims that there is a "war against women." We are seeing it in race-based identity politics.
We are seeing it in attacks on the successful and the prosperous. We are seeing it in the casual attacks on minority faiths… and minority viewpoints.
It's always "us" against "them." A war that must be won. A fight that must be joined. A group that must be destroyed.
Candidates say these things, hoping that their side will be motivated enough to get to 50-plus-one. Maybe it's the right strategy for a short-term victory.
But it's bad for America. And it will leave us with only half a house.
I am not naive. I know that elections are never going to be polite debates. I know that American politics can be nasty and personal.
You should have seen the debates between Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Jefferson called Adams a hermaphrodite who didnt have the gentleness of a woman or the firmness of a man.
Adams responded, if the country elected Jefferson, they were electing a man who was a half breed whose mother was an inidian-squaw raised on hoe cakes. your women would be raped and you would see your children's head on pikes.
But when politicians say: "Vote for me, I'll crush the supporters of the other guy."… well, that's not an attack on the other candidate. It's an attack on Americans.
It is bad for America when a candidate for office says "vote for me, so rich people don't get richer." It is bad for America when someone says "vote for me, or else the entire country will look like San Francisco."
It is bad, not only because it is untrue.
It is bad, because it attacks Americans for who they are.
It turns Americans against each other. As if to support one candidate is the best way to tear down a fellow citizen.
That's not how America works. Not at its best.
We are not a zero-sum country. We don't have a limit to our wealth and potential prosperity. We don't have a ceiling on justice. We don't have a set amount of civil rights and privileges.
We are not trying to build half a house. We are not trying to limit what Americans can achieve.
And so we don't have to believe - as the politicians want us to believe - that what one of us gets, the rest of us won't have.
Our system works best when Americans all believe that their destiny is tied up in the future of the country.
All of us. Not women at the expense of men. Not African-Americans at the expense of Latinos. Not the well-to-do at the expense of the struggling.
Come November, we will have votes and we will have winning candidates.
But it would be good if after the confetti and balloons are swept away, we can still be united.
We should know that our elected leaders will represent the entire country. And we should work to build a house that doesn't need to press down on another to stand on its own.
Thank you, and may god keep the republic