Thursday, November 1, 2012

Return to Normal

Today is Thursday, November 1. In five more days we'll vote in the General Election for the President of the United States, as well as for senators and representatives to our national legislature. A host of other candidates will be vying for our votes, as well as a variety of issues depending on our particular location.

I'm looking forward to the conclusion of this year's election campaign. The heated, partisan rhetoric has gotten pretty toxic in a lot of races. The name-calling in some cases has reached epic proportions. Promises to refrain from negative ads have gone by the wayside, and the nastiness has gotten worse and worse. When the election is over and decided, we can return to normal.

This "normal" that I speak of, in today's highly partisan political environment, is probably different from the "normal" that existed years ago. That normal was a climate in which both major parties could work together, each giving up something it valued, so that legislation could be crafted and passed for the good of the country. In the former days, normal meant a certain respect for members of the opposing party, whatever their political ideology. It meant a gentlemanly cordiality that could look past partisan differences and get actual work done.

In the normal I'm afraid we'll see after Election Day, name-calling might be diminished, but instead hypocrisy will flourish. We've all seen how friendships and familial relationships have been strained or broken outright because of political differences this year. Hurtful words were spat out, verbally and online, and the wounds in many cases have been deep. I'm not sure these wounds will heal any time soon.

The hypocrisy I speak of will see a reduction in name-calling, but the attitudes that accompany that won't go away. Instead, friends will eye each other suspiciously, knowing deep down that their buddies are flaming idiots who voted for "that guy." Family members will talk amongst themselves in quiet voices about how Cousin Abe or Aunt Betty must be out of their mind to have believed what they said they did. Why, they should be committed for being so stupid!

I wish we could return to a normal like the one I remember from earlier days. Republicans and Democrats were actually able to govern. That's not the way things work today. Now, it's all scorched earth and zero sum gamesmanship. Until our politicians get past the demagogues and begin to see this country as the United States, we'll continue to have toxic words during election campaigns and toxic thoughts and attitudes between them.

What do you think? Is this what will happen? Or at this point, do we even care?

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