Let me preface by saying that when I say politics, I don’t mean actual politics. I love the way our country is set up, how one person or group of persons cannot have all power, how there are checks and balances, and most of all, how the people of the country get to decide who they want to be their leader. I love it. I love that our country was founded by good men for these reasons. I love the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and everything that they have brought us. I am a patriot through and through. If you ever doubt that, you’ve never seen me during the Olympics or on the 4th of July. Do I believe that as an American I am better than anyone else? Of course not. But I do very strongly believe that we have the most fantastic country on the planet. But I’m biased.
What I hate is the politics of politics. I hate the way political things have changed. Unlike a lot of people, I despise election years. I appreciate my opportunity to vote, knowing that it is my civic duty but also knowing it is a grand invitation to share my opinions on specific issues. My vote counts. My opinion counts. I get to have a say in the direction our country goes. But that is where the rose-colored glasses come off and I wish I could ignore the rest of it. I hate that political ads are always negative. They always and without fail point fingers at what has been done wrong by the other guy. They are twisted and skewed to make the other guy sound like the vilest of people. They do not tell me anything about the man or woman they are being produced for, other than how he or she is different from this terrible, awful other guy.
And then there are the debates. Oh, how I despise the debates! Maybe it’s just me, but I happen to believe that somewhere in the world, it is possible for people of differing opinions to sit down with each other and discuss current and relevant issues with respect for those differing opinions and without someone having to be right or wrong. Whatever happened to agreeing to disagree? No one is going to see perfectly eye-to-eye with every single person they want to; does that mean they have to be enemies? No! So why do these debates turn so hateful and mean and rude and downright pointless? Does it actually tell us anything about the candidates? No. All it tells us is that they cannot get along. There is no respect. There is no politeness. There is very little class. That does not mean the candidates themselves are that way. But what we see are two grown men arguing for the sake of arguing before a divided people who are violently supporting their candidate and are willing to beat down any that don’t feel the same way.
Politics, in this sense, cause a huge divide the country, and, in my opinion, makes us look weak. If we can’t respect each other, it doesn’t matter who is in office. Someone will always hate them. Someone will always think they are the worst person for the job, if not on the planet. It doesn’t matter. There is so much hate involved in an election year, and it drives me crazy. People are so cruel. People get so caught up in the hate that they say things that do not represent how other people feel, even if they are for the same candidate. Everybody assumes that when one person says something awful about the other party or the other candidate, they are endorsed by the opposing one, or that is how the entire contingent of supporters feel. Why can’t we believe the best of people? Why can’t we acknowledge our differences of opinion and get on with life?
You don’t know these people. You know what we see on TV, and since the media NEVER skews reality, that must be the whole picture, right? Regardless of what you see on the news or hear through the oh-so-reliable grapevine, you don’t know them. You don’t know if the man is a liar or if he has been honest his entire life. You don’t know if he loves his kids as much as he seems to or if he brushes them off when the cameras are gone. You don’t know what he has felt in his life or how hard some of his decisions have been. You don’t know how hard their wives have had life by their side, fighting to raise a good family in this world that is headed straight for the sewers. You don’t know how their kids feel about having their fathers’ names slammed about like swear words, knowing that when they go out, someone will have something awful to say about him. You don’t know these men. Stop pretending that what you see or hear is actually what you get.
So how do we know who to vote for? If we ever get around to the issues ever again, figure out what you yourself believe. What you yourself want to have changed. And then you vote for the candidate who most closely follows what you believe. Religion doesn’t matter. Race doesn’t matter. Age doesn’t matter. Finances don’t matter. Shoe brand doesn’t matter. March Madness picks do not matter. Fast food preference does not matter. What matters are the issues. It’s unfortunate and very sad that the idea of what is best for America seems to have fallen by the wayside of “What is best for Republicans” or “What is best for Democrats”. We are all Americans. What is best for America?
So yes, I hate politics. Just like I hate contention. I hate rudeness. I hate disrespect. I hate ignorance. I hate a lot of things. But I love a lot of things, too. I love America. I love freedom. I love being able to choose. I love knowing that I have freedom of religion and speech and can bear arms if I want to and can be assured of a fair trial if I need one and that there is still the idea of the American Dream out there in the world.
When it comes time to vote, I will vote according to my own conscience. I hope everyone will do the same. Not because someone looks better on TV or because someone has the right amount of money or because someone has a stylish wife or because he likes Clemson or because his tie is pretty, his children well-groomed, his teeth straight, his car American-made, his background in education, finance, art history, or food services. Vote for the candidate whose opinions are close to yours and whose plan you are most comfortable with. And allow the people who are choosing differently than you the respect that you wish they would give you. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. I learned that from Bambi as a kid. Thought other people did too. Guess not when it comes to politics.