On May 4, 1970, a sixteen year old (intellectually sophisticated by Clyde, Ohio standards, but pathetically naïve) froze in horror as she heard the popping of bullets at Kent State University as she and her fellow high school choir members walked in the direction of where they were supposed to eat lunch. In reality, they were walking toward the area of confrontation between angry students and the Ohio National Guard. That was my first (and to date most noteworthy) brush with history. Luckily, all of us were rushed to our buses and returned to Clyde shaken, but unscathed. Too many years later, I find myself a citizen of a county whose mood in many ways resembles that of the Vietnam era -- a polarized people who often violently express antipathy towards those of opposing viewpoints. Just as in 1972 when I was one of the first 18 year olds to cast a ballot and less than thrilled with choosing between Nixon and McGovern, in 2016, I felt even more strongly that I was being forced to decide whom I determined to be the lesser of two evils and vote accordingly. I could not even follow the lead of Governor Kasich and vote for someone not on the ballot because in recent years Ohio has made a real difference in the outcome of presidential elections. With the three major news networks, Time Magazine and The Cleveland Plain Dealer as my guides, in 1972, I took a deep breath and hoped that my vote for McGovern would end the war. Fox News, CNN, online newspaper articles, social media and talk radio were my primary sources of information for this past election as I hoped every day that something would happen that would cause Mr. Trump to resign and be replaced by a candidate whom I could support. Because I ultimately decided that I could not vote for Hillary Clinton, I very reluctantly voted for Mr. Trump and strongly believed that this would be my protest against an inevitable Clinton presidency. Over the past several years, I have been greatly concerned over Congressional gridlock, which has only worsened in the Trump administration. Our legislators have not even voted on all of his Cabinet appointments. Bills addressing tax reform, repeal and replacement of health care legislation, deficit reduction, national security and other critical issues stagnate in procedural delays in the House and Senate. Even the issues about which I care the most – Medicaid reform in the long term care sector and changes that will improve the treatment of the mentally ill – do not seem to be priority issues in this Congress. I fear greatly for the future of our country if this legislative inaction and culture of hatespeak continues. Although I do believe Rep. Steve Stivers, my own Representative, is doing the best he can in this tumultuous era, the time has come for our country to explore alternatives to our present political parties. Participation in SAM seems to be a real opportunity for those frustrated with the current political climate to make their voices heard and take a serious step to effectuate positive change and end the gridlock that has paralyzed the legislative process. I urge you to investigate SAM by visiting the website at joinsam.org and participate in this movement as we strive to forge a new path in the American political system, putting people before parties.