Now that the American election is over I hope we can all take a deep breath and calm down. Like most of our recent political campaigns, this one was loooong and painful. Normally I love talking about the issues with people because I always learn something from it, and I think it’s important to try to be an informed citizen.
But I’m increasingly saddened by the way our political process has degenerated into name-calling and sound bites. Many voters are too busy working for a living to spend much time doing in-depth study of complex issues, so (I’m assuming) most people grab a bit of news here and there from their favorite “news” source and form their opinions from that.
That wouldn’t be so bad if we could depend on the media to provide unbiased information, but we can’t. And many people seem to believe that their cable news channel of choice — whether it’s conservative or liberal — is telling them the “truth”. It often isn’t. (And neither are some of the people who want us to elect them, by the way.) The failure of our media outlets to inform and educate us is inexcusable. But the American public is being shortchanged by that sad reality.
And if you’ve got a Facebook account you’ve almost definitely been exposed to some of the ugliness there too. I’ve been appalled by some of what I’ve read there, from racism to just plain hateful lies. I know some people use the anonymity and distance of the internet to deliberately provoke others with offensive rants. And that’s awful. But what really saddens me more is that people who seem rational and kind in everyday life have said some horrible things this campaign season, both about their fellow citizens and the candidates.
Does it have to be this way? Can we possibly go back to having civil and respectful conversations about topics that affect all of us? I know people have hurt feelings and the losing party is disappointed, but we’ve got to get over it and come together. What’s so wrong with listening to someone else’s view and actually considering if they might be right (or even partially right)?
It’s true that our two main political parties have opposing ideas about the best ways to run the government, and many of us have strong opinions about it as well. But regardless of whether you think government is too big or too small (or too inefficient, or too whatever…), why not be open to compromise? Nobody gets to win EVERY time, but if we each give up a little bit of what we want sometimes, at least something can get done to move this country forward and we can feel good about it instead of wanting to wash our hands of the whole thing. And tell your elected officials that you expect them to be more willing to work together, and that you’ll hold them accountable if they don’t.
I sure don’t claim to have the solution to all the complex problems of our gridlocked government, but I think an attitude adjustment would do wonders to get things moving, don’t you?