I generally hate to suggest that I speak for lots of people because I don’t think that I necessarily do. However, I’m pretty sure that I can make a general statement that lots and lots of people will agree with.
I’m ready for this election to be over!
Without a doubt, this has been the nastiest election I’ve ever seen. The nastiness, name-calling, derision, and seemingly utter contempt people have had for those with different viewpoints has taken a toll on many of us.
I’m not going to go into the economic and political reasons why our country has become so divided, but I will make this observation: a huge issue facing our nation is how we can learn to work and live with people who are different from us and who have different viewpoints. The fact that our nation becomes more diverse each day makes this a necessity.
I blame the nastiness on the popularity of those television shows in which people were encouraged to scream at each other. You know the ones….people would come on and scream and holler at each other. They’d even go so far as to get in each other’s faces and it wasn’t unusual for a physical altercation to occur. And the audience loved it – in fact, they encouraged it!
The problem is that these shows made it look normal for people to out-scream each other as a means of communication. Those shows made rude, ill-mannered, and uncivil people look like they represented the rest of us.
But they don’t.
Or at least I didn’t believe that they did – until this election.
But watching all of the debates (and yes, I watched EVERY single one of them in both parties!) it finally dawned on me that the childish, infantile behavior I’d witnessed when I had the misfortune to stumble across one of these shows was now being played out on the national stage in an arena that should have been reserved for spirited, but civil, political debate.
And yes, I recognize that a political debate is going to be based upon each candidate advocating for different policies and attempting to sway voters. But there is a difference between spirited political discourse and infantile behavior.
As this election season has dragged on (and on and on) it seems that it’s not only the candidates who have been engaged in the nastiness either. Every day it seems like I’ve seen new lows.
Now I know we all have our opinions (and of course, we all know what they say about those!). And I’ve definitely got a candidate that I don’t want to see elected. But that’s just my opinion. Who knows – my opinion could be wrong.
But even if my opinion is wrong, I’m still tired of reading and hearing things like, “You can’t be a patriotic American if you vote for …”. I don’t appreciate being told, “You can’t be a good Christian and vote for…”. And I don’t appreciate hearing, “Only an idiot would cast their ballot for… because everyone with any sense knows…”.
Seriously? So everyone who disagrees with you is unpatriotic? Or not a good American? Or a lousy Christian? Or stupid?
What an arrogant viewpoint. There are good, patriotic, intelligent, Christian people on BOTH sides of the aisle. Hopefully, everyone has made an informed assessment of the issues before making up their mind. But people will still come to different conclusions. And that ought to be okay.
It’s time we quit making such negative assumptions about those who don’t agree with us. And quit calling them names or assuming they’re bad people.
I’ll give you another example.
A few months ago – when there were still many candidates running – I was visiting with a friend when the subject of politics came up. I had not stated my opinion on whether I was leaning towards voting republican or democrat when the following statement was made by someone in the room.
“Well, liberals just don’t have any values.”
And this person was completely serious.
I have to admit that the statement caught me completely off guard and left me speechless. In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll admit right up front that I have some issues where I have more liberal leanings, and on other issues, I am more conservative in my attitudes.
But to paint with such a broad paintbrush and assume that a group “doesn’t have any values” is just appalling to me. Whether you agree with the values of another group or not, to assume that they don’t have ANY values because they’re not YOUR values is short sighted and egocentric. (It’s a lot of other things too but I won’t go there).
The point is that people on both sides of the aisle have values – and whether we agree with them or not, we ought to at least acknowledge them. Because if we’re unwilling to respect people with differing viewpoints then how can we expect them to respect us?
But a lack of respect seems to be what this election has encouraged. And I’m tired of it.
I hope that come November 9, we can make some changes. Here is what I’d like to see:
- Let’s put the election behind us and roll up our sleeves to solve the legitimate problems in the country. We all know there are plenty of them for us to work on.
- Let’s not create problems where there aren’t any just because we feel free to meddle in other people’s business.
- Let’s agree that we can talk about issues and not quit listening when someone expresses a different point of view. It’s going to take cooperation and compromise to solve problems and we’ve got to start working together.
- Let’s quit demonizing other groups of people.
- Congress, get off your rear ends and work with each other and the new president! Please remember who elected you and not just who contributed big bucks to your campaign.
But my biggest hope is that we’ll finally start to put some civility back into the public sphere. Political slogans tend to be empty phrases that never live up to their promise. But if I was running for office, I think this would be my platform and my slogan would be…
It’s Time To Make America Civil Again!
(The rephrasing of the slogan is in no way a political endorsement)