Punch and civic duty

the fight to voteThree times, I’ve started a commentary on the sizzling political climate in our country.

Twice, I’ve waded hip deep into waters warm enough to scald. Wisely, I dashed back to the beach for a cool drink and reflection.

Tentatively, I wade again.

I’m hesitant to talk politics. No matter what you say, someone is going to disagree. Maybe a lot of someones. The more someones with an opposing view, the more landmines hidden in any political conversation.

This election year, the landmines are loaded with nitroglycerine.

The punch card has been replaced by the sucker punch.

I may risk a black eye, but I can’t stay quiet.

It seems we’ve lost respect for each other. Let’s face it, every American has a right to support their candidate of choice. It doesn’t matter if that candidate wants to change our currency from the dollar bill to slices of pineapple upside down cake. If a registered voter wants to support a politician who wears diapers and rides to work on a forklift, that’s his business. If you don’t like the placard in your neighbor’s yard, go vote for someone else. There’s no need to go all Mike Tyson on them. I mean, your candidate pours vodka on his Grape Nuts. Get over yourself.

What really bothers me is the anger. It’s one thing to disagree and even argue over issues and platforms. It’s another to see passion turn into a bloody lip. What does that accomplish, exactly? By tearing the other guy’s sign to shreds, do you think he’s now going to hoist the banner of your guy? Do you think berating the opposition makes your candidate more appealing?

You’ve seen the news. Political rallies turn to street brawls. Debates turn into temper tantrums. Supporters of one candidate display a middle finger, supporters of another deliver a set of knuckles.

I really have to wonder what made this country so angry. I have to think the discord has been there for awhile, like a rancid navel orange just waiting for someone to remove the thick peel. Many are disenchanted with our elected officials, and I get it. Inside the Beltway, progress meets the filibuster. Nothing irritates me more than a member of Congress who staples his worthless, self-serving legislation to a worthy bill to guarantee its passage. Sneaky. Underhanded. It’s been going on for 100 years. Pork is often the Prince of Politics.

That’s why our founding fathers gave us the opportunity to vote the bums out. The Constitution gives us the right to bear arms, not break them.

Worse than the anger is the hatred. People are using the political turmoil as an excuse to hate. They believe our country favors some over others. The rich get richer. The poor get free phones. That guy isn’t as smart or as hardworking as me, but he has a better paying job. Life is, indeed, unfair. That’s no reason to hate. Seriously. After all, there is someone smarter and harder working than you who isn’t nearly as blessed. I guarantee it. Should he hate you? No.

It’s also become popular to blame one particular candidate for all of the anger and hatred. I’m not going there. That’s the bubbling crude I’m trying to avoid. Besides, no one candidate created the anger. This political season tapped into a deep, rich vein that we ourselves created. We are the ones who send the ugly ooze spilling over our nation, and it’s not just the supporters of one candidate. I’ve seen hate, and then hate for those who hate.

I love America. The country of my birth has its imperfections, but I can’t imagine living anywhere else. The upside of living here far, far outweighs the aggravating inconsistencies of the people we put in charge. And remember…we put them there. We did that.

I can see the need for change in the culture that dominates our nation’s capital. But it’s not a need that calls for turning on each other. We, the voters, the people who are supposed to run this country, we are the ones who can change that culture. We do it on a soapbox, inside the voting booth, with passion, not profanity.

We won’t always unite on how to bring about that change, but there is a famous saying that tells us what will happen when we are divided. We can disagree on ideas and issues, and still unite in our desire to make our country better. Respect for one another needs to be a part of the equation. That goes for the politicians, as well as the voters.

We need to vote with our hearts, with our brains, and not with our fists.



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