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Archive for the ‘Election 2016’ Category

The Old Paths: Election Disillusionment

**This was originally published on Thursday, November 8, 2012, in my newspaper column, “The Old Paths,” in The Stokes News. Due to a website change a few years ago, the publishing company broke all links to our old articles which were archived online. This was a tragic mistake and resulted in the loss of thousands of newspaper articles. Little by little, I am putting my old columns on this blog so that they can be preserved. Each column may be updated to reflect present times when transferred to this blog.**

election_resultsThank goodness the elections are over. As much as I appreciate living in a country where I have at least a token say in government, I despise election season. I hate the mudslinging by candidates, I cannot stand my beautiful Stokes County landscape being littered with signs, and I am disheartened by the enmity I witness between people of different political parties.

It’s done now, and I hope we can get back to normal life—or as Doc Holliday said to Wyatt Earp in the movie Tombstone, “There is no normal life, Wyatt. There’s just LIFE.” Then let us get back to LIFE.

However, my kids will tell you that I don’t waste any experience. Thus, I have learned some key things in the past few months:

1. BOTH DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS STEREOTYPE EACH OTHER. Many Democrats picture Republicans as uptight, straight-laced, gun-toting, narrow-minded citizens who don’t care about the poor, the disenfranchised, the broken. Likewise, many Republicans have pigeonholed Democrats as bleeding-heart liberals with no morals, who care more about saving baby eagles than they do human babies and who cannot possibly be Christian.

Anything strike a chord with you? Did you Republicans say, “Absolutely right! Doggone liberal Democrats!”

And did you Democrats say, “But Republicans ARE everything you described, Leslie!”?

If so, then you are doing your fellow Americans a true disservice. As I’ve said before, I believe many Democrats are moderates who stand shoulder to shoulder with moderate Republicans—almost identical values and goals—just different parties for whatever reason.

A Democrat in Danbury labeled me a “compassionate Conservative,” and I liked that. Many Republicans (and Democrats) do care about the less fortunate, and many Democrats (and Republicans) are Christian. So I beg you to be careful with your stereotyping.

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2. WE HAVE NO MERCY OR FORGIVENESS FOR POLITICAL FIGURES. We tend to write someone off forever if they do even one thing that we think is wrong. Now I agree that if someone clearly errs and won’t admit their wrong, they don’t need to be given a second chance to lead until they humble themselves and pledge to reform.

But what about a politician who blows it and has great humility in the situation? Do we say that this person, even though they may have the wisdom and capabilities to help turn this country around, is never again allowed to lead?

Who hasn’t blown it in some way? Are we putting our leaders on a pedestal and daring them to totter? They are not gods but merely men and women with fleshly tendencies just like us.

I read last week that many Christian leaders who commit secret sins keep those sins hidden all of their lives because they know that if they confess and repent publicly, they will be mercilessly attacked by other Christians and never given another chance to use the giftings and callings God gave them.

What a mess this creates. There are few Christian leaders who haven’t blown it in some way, sadly enough. But they are nervously keeping these skeletons in the closet because they know they can’t count on forgiveness, loving guidance and eventual restoration to leadership. Even though transparency is so important, no one feels comfortable being transparent; everyone clutches their dirty little secrets to themselves. Our harsh judgment has created a vicious cycle of denial.

I believe the same holds true for politicians. Which of them hasn’t compromised at least a little? But few are brave enough to admit it, fearing that they will lose the next election to some other politician who still claims false infallibility. We have created a culture where being fake makes us much more successful than being REAL.

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3. PEOPLE STILL OVERWHELMINGLY VOTE ACCORDING TO RACE. I find this to be the most disturbing thing that stood out in the 2012 election. I guess as a person who considers herself color-blind, I keep hoping that people have mentally evolved enough to look beyond the color of a person’s skin.

Wrong.

I have white friends who would never have dared to vote for Obama, because he is a black man; their decision had nothing to do with values or goals—it was all about not having a black man in the White House. This in itself puzzles me, because his mother was white, which makes him as much white as black.

I also have black friends—staunch Christians who are anti-abortion, who don’t support a two-state solution for Israel and who have conservative personal values—who voted for Obama primarily because he is considered a black man. They were willing to look beyond values that are critical to Christianity so that a man of their own race could be elected.

I am troubled by both sides here, by any “race” (if there is such a thing) that sticks with their own no matter what. I guess we are still more bound by the confines of color than I want to admit.

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4. CHILDREN OFTEN ARE MUCH WISER THAN ADULTS. On Election Night, my son said he hated the fact that America has political parties. He passionately declared that we would be so much better off if we had no parties and every person simply ran based on his/her goals and values without anyone stuffing him/her into a party box.

Go ahead and try to argue with his logic and tell him how that’s not possible, how parties are needed. Meanwhile, I will pat him on the back and say, “I agree, son.”

People vote along party lines so often without even considering the values of the person they are voting for. If we had no Democrat, Libertarian or Republican parties, then maybe we would more closely examine what the candidate actually stands for.

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So when all is said and done, you might say that I am rather disillusioned by what I learned during the 2012 election. But I will put back on my rose-colored glasses, retreat to my old paths and keep believing—despite the failings of humanity as a whole (including my own)—that things will get better, that this country will still move positively forward, and that hope springs eternal in the human breast.

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The Old Paths: A Political Pickle

**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.election 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.politics--elephant and donkey

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.

Political-Party unity

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.good politicians

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.

professional politiciansI 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!

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