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Gwen’s Take: Resolving to rescue 2016

I am not much of a fan of New Year’s resolutions, unless they lend insight about how to win the Powerball jackpot.

But it occurs to me there are things I would like to see happen in 2016 — promises I’d like to see more of us strive to keep as this already topsy-turvy election year speeds toward action at the ballot box.

Feel free to add your own thoughts. I can’t be the only one thinking along these lines.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks at King's Pointe Waterpark and Resort in Storm Lake, Iowa January 6, 2016. REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich - RTX21CQ4

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz speaks to supporters in Storm Lake, Iowa, Wednesday. Photo by Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters

For the candidates:

  1. Listen more. I recognize that it often serves competitors best to talk past each other — especially when you are trying to claim the fleeting attentions of voters on a debate stage or on social media. But think how much more clarity we could get if the people who wanted to be president clearly explained why he or she is the better choice.
  2. Speak for yourself. Surrogates are all well and good, and often very handy to have when you can’t be in more than one place at a time. But they are not the people we are voting for. If Donald Trump has proved anything, it is that there is nothing more powerful than a candidate’s voice.
  3. Lean away from fear. There is plenty to be scared about in the world without stirring the pot. Terrorists on the loose. Plots afoot. Fecklessness in Washington. Americans are already nervous. If the only way to get elected is by making an uncertain situation worse, perhaps it is time to rethink. Whatever happened to that shining city on the hill?
Latino leaders and immigration reform supporters gather at Farrand Field on the campus of the University of Colorado to launch "My Country, My Vote," a 12-month voter registration campaign to mobilize Colorado's Latino, immigrant and allied voters October 28, 2015. The rally was held ahead of a forum held by CNBC before the U.S. Republican presidential candidates debate in Boulder. REUTERS/Evan Semon    - RTX1TQD8

Latino leaders and immigration reform supporters gathered at the University of Colorado to launch a 12-month voter registration campaign in October. Photo by Evan Semon/Reuters

For voters:

  1. Vote. Sure, you can whine and complain. Free speech is not limited to optimistic speech. But when it comes right down to it, you have a say. That’s more than a lot of people in this world can claim.
  2. Practice accountability. You may have plenty of excuses for skipping the gym, but there is no excuse for not being aware of what is going on around you. As someone who asks questions for a living, there are few things that annoy me more than people who won’t ask for themselves. Social media is a great help, but so is something as simple as turning on your television or powering up your laptop to watch a smart news show. (You know which ones.)
  3. Cut the mockery. This one is tough in a year when so many candidates provide easy targets, and Saturday Night Live has returned to its perch as the master of political parody. It’s OK to laugh. I laugh at something every day. But remember, it’s not a simple thing to run for president. If you’re willing to put yourself out there, someone should be willing to take you seriously.

It may already be too late to stick to these resolutions. But if you fall off the hammock, climb back in, and try your hand at optimism. Believe me; it will make 2016 better for all of us.

Check out what’s in store for Congress in 2016, and read Washington Week’s cheat sheet of big stories to expect in 2016. Share your own predictions of what the big stories will be in the year ahead.

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