At any given moment of our lives, we have choices which we can make within the bounds set by all of history. Our knowledge and our character influence brought us to this point, as well as infinite other factors.

What options available to us in this moment are set and unchangeable. We can do what we know is right, or we can make a different choice.

“Bronze portrait bust of the emperor Gaius (Caligula)” is licensed under CC0 1.0

Do we know what is right? How does our character compare to others that we know? Who do we admire? What values do we admire about them? Are these values that were esteemed during times worth aspiring to?

This has, is, and will always be, the experience of each individual person.

Our leaders are elected within the world left behind by all past choices, good and bad. Gerrymandered districts, Jim Crow era election laws, disenfranchised voters, voting process vulnerabilities, a social media giant funded in part by an advertisement system that has been abused to target Democracy itself, and all other factors each influence the results.

In 2010 this led to a legal decision that money is speech, ensuring that we each have as much Democracy as we can buy.

In 2016 Donald Trump was elected by American voters applying their character at the ballot box, or by choosing not to. Is it better to vote for the lesser of two evils, or refrain from voting for either? Do we trust our knowledge and character to know the difference? How much time have we personally spent in constructive debate with people we disagree with? They would know the flaws of our “lesser evil” than we would.

Many of us are influenced on social media platforms. Some of this influence was legal, and some of it was not. Some of it was from US citizens and some of it was from hostile countries. Some of it was true, some of it comes down to values, and some of it was outright lie.

Motivations vary from individual to individual based upon their character. For some, like Steve Bannon and likely Vladamir Putin, the motivations were to fundamentally break our society in order to change it in their own images.

They understand the truth about how to change a country. Top down control is an illusion. People resist leaders that do not match their values. Change the people to change a nation.

“The reason why he (Steve Bannon) was interested in this is because he believes in this idea of the ‘Breitbart Doctrine,’ which is that if you want to change politics you first have to change culture because politics flows from culture. If you want to change culture, you have to first understand what the units of culture are, and the people are the units of culture. So, if you want to change politics, you first have to change people to change culture.”

 — Christopher Wylie (Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower)

In November we will face a choice between options that reflects the collective character of our nation. It is possible that this will be a choice between two different obscenely wealthy, racist, sexist men who have lived lives focused on money and power.

One of them will have spent the last few years rebuilding the executive branch in his image. Placing loyalty over patriotism and duty. Rebuilding our judicial system by rushing judge appointments. Eroding our protections against tyranny with the support of a complicit GOP. Protecting foreign countries who actively attempt to influence our people.

His opponent will have spent their time chasing power in a corrupt system. Doing what it takes to get power in a nation with our collective character.

If he loses, he may attempt to retain power by contesting the results. He has repeatedly claimed that attempts to enforce law and order are attempts at a coup.

If he wins, those who refuse to participate will be blamed by those who helped provide a terrible choice. This represents the character of our history and our nation.

Fixing the soul of our nation requires effort. The only mind we can change is our own. Do we even try?

Do we even have a destination in mind that will not inevitably lead to further conflict?