|Image courtesy of the vlogbrothers|
I'm off today, due to the election. I've been working on some things online most of the day, but I'm getting ready to stroll over to my polling place and vote. I'm hoping I won't be alone over there. Sometimes, the place is practically empty. I'm also hoping that many of you have either already voted or will do so this afternoon. This one is important, folks.
Honestly, I fear for my country. Not because of who might win the election, although I do have a pretty definite preference there, and I do think that the other guy will do some pretty crappy things if he's elected. I also know that my guy will not be able to do everything that he would like to do should he win. He'll even up doing some things that I do not approve of. But none of that is what I am afraid of.
No, I am afraid because of the nature and tone of political discourse over the last two decades. You don't have to be up on current events to realize how nasty and polarized things have gotten. It used to be that the rhetoric would ratchet down after the election as officeholders had to turn to try and work together. Now, however, it continues 24-7 through the entire year. As a result, we see how little is being done.
Never would I have imagined that one party would simply declare itself the "party of no" to everything a President proposed, even if it were beneficial or even if the idea started from them. No President has had to suffer as many indignities over stupid issues as this one has. And you know it will be worse in the future, no matter which one is chosen.
I fear because we are losing the ability to be civil over differences, to agree to disagree when needed, to find ways to compromise and work together. Compromise means creating a solution that neither side is completely happy with, because both sides have had to make concessions. It means moving forward with solutions that may not be totally ideal, but that will make improvements. Compromise used to be what made politics function and prevented gridlock. Now we've got too many players who refuse make any concessions whatsoever and demand that those around them do the same.
Never before have we had a climate of such increasing ferocity, rigid definitions, and litmus tests. it seems that to identify yourself one way or another means that you have to totally embrace a list of positions or be called a traitor to the cause. Thinking for oneself is not allowed, nor is asking questions. Worse yet, this climate has allowed us to start defining people on the other side, without listening to individuals, by lumping them in huge categories and insisting that this is what they are like. Further, since they are like that we should not have to listen to them, work with them, associate with them, or even be related to them. Polarization creates stereotypes. Stereotypes create further division.
Perhaps saddest of all, so many of these shrill polarizing voices come from outside the political arena itself. Personalities and commentators have so much influence over the public discourse. Outside interest groups can pour so much money into campaign ads that do nothing but further their own interests, not the common good.
Please, vote today as you see fit. Vote your own reasons. Vote your conscience. But then remember, after the polls have closed and the votes have been tallied, no matter who wins or who loses, we are all Americans. We all want what is best for our country. To get there, we have to work together. We have to listen to each other. We don't have to totally agree, but we can recognize good arguments from the other side. We can be open to each other.
If we can't, I fear for my country.