**This was originally published in a similar form in The Stokes News on October 28, 2010. When the publishers changed websites a few years back, all links to archived articles were tragically lost. I am attempting to republish in my blog all of my columns that once appeared in the newspaper. I have updated this column to reflect life in 2016.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. NOT. Well, at least not when it comes to the early primary we have this election year.
I must confess I dread the Presidential election time. Voting is a privilege I take seriously, and I appreciate living in a free nation where I have a say. But each election cycle, I find myself wishing away the days—something Mama told me not to do.
One aspect of my dislike is somewhat trivial: I hate political signs littering the landscape. The main street of Danbury hosts a plethora of signs. The entrance to the Stokes County Government Center is decorated in “candidate couture.” One may only hope that the candidates are responsible and dispose of their signs after the election.
Another reason for my desire to “hurry up and finish” the political season is the ugliness I sometimes see on the part of opposing candidates and parties. Stokes County candidates generally do a good job of steering away from this negative-ad campaigning, in my opinion. From my perspective, there has been minimal murmuring. But the candidates on the state and national scenes? Bash, bash and more bash.
In many cases, the bashed politician (notice I didn’t say “abashed”) has plausible explanations for what the opposing candidate called “criminal activity” or “a bad voting record.” Things are not always what they seem. And partial truths alone can distort the whole truth. You can make any candidate look unappealing with some crafty “political sleight of hand.”
I will more quickly vote for a politician who tells me their positive plans for change and/or reform than I will the one who spends more time in negative bashing of “the other guy.”
The political bashing goes further than the individual; it extends to the party. I’m so tired of this that I have considered becoming unaffiliated. I simply don’t belong with either of the main parties. Although my conservative tendencies would point me toward the elephants, I refuse to believe the donkeys are evil.
Do I hate ultra-liberalism? Yep. Do I hate the liberals? Nope. Do I hate Nazi-like conservatism? Yep. Do I hate the ultra-right-wingers? Of course not. I can hate the political ideology but love the practitioner as a human.
I’ve heard many Republicans insist that a Christian can’t be a Democrat. Baloney, I say. I’ve heard some Democrats assert that all Republicans are holier-than-thou sticks in the mud. Hogwash, I declare. There are good and bad people in both parties. I’ve even seen some Republicans and Democrats in the middle of the political spectrum who are so close in ideology that they might as well be political bedfellows.
I will stand for my beliefs, but there’s a way to do it with civility. For example, I will tell every last one of you that I am passionately anti-abortion However, if you are pro-choice, I will respectfully disagree with your belief but still value you as a human being. I might argue my point to you, but I will do it rationally, and I, in turn, will listen to you. I’ve yet to see a harsh argument win anyone over to anything.
Another pet peeve of mine, politically speaking, is ignorance. Why are you a Republican or a Democrat? Because your parents were? Because all of the (insert your last name here)’s were? Because Grandpa would roll over in his grave if he knew you switched parties?
Rather than blindly registering as one party or another, why not research the major tenets that your family’s party stands for and then decide whether or not you belong there? Remember that what 21st-century Democrats stand for may not be what the Great Depression Democrats stood for. Same for the Republican Party. Platforms do change.
And to echo my daughter, who recently wrote a political column for another newspaper, if you’re going to call a politician a Communist or Socialist, please attempt to at least know what you’re talking about. These two terms are not synonymous.
And if you really want to aggravate me this political season, tell me that all politicians are crooks. I refuse to buy into that generalization.
One of my dear friends is running in a Congressional race in another district. I have known her well for many years, sitting at many a baseball game with her. You will never convince me that this devoted Christian woman and homeschool mom is a crook. She has high ideals and is passionate about wholesome reform in this country.
Will she compromise if elected someday? Probably at some point or another, every politician will have to cede some ground on some issue so that he/she can get a particular issue passed. Although compromise does not lead to an ideal situation for any individual or party, it does often lead to unity between parties, which promotes the general welfare.
Then again, a politician must choose his/her battle. There may be a particular issue that he/she will NEVER compromise on. I personally could never vote for a bill that furthered the cause of abortion, even if it also promised me the liberty to have prayer in schools again.
Similarly, some local politicians will not yield any ground when it comes to raising taxes. Others will consider higher taxes if a pressing need must be met.
I will admit, however, that I yearn for the old paths when politicians did not make careers of it and did it as a service to their fellow Americans, rather than a way to gain ame, fortune and a cozy nest egg for retirement. Where are the Davy Crocketts or the Daniel Websters who gave the devil a run for his money?
Give me the days when simple people with good common sense could help govern this country rather than having to always defer to politicians who have the family name and/or big bucks backing them.
But I live in a 21st-century world where politicians are very different from the way our founding fathers intended them to be. Thank God that here in Stokes County we still have races full of good, common (and often uncommonly good!) folks who probably are in the race because they truly care about this county and people like you and me.
As for most of the candidates on the state and national levels, I can’t say.
May the best man/woman win!