by Jamie Beckett —
As the American public slides into another political campaign season with reckless abandon, it seems appropriate to offer a word of caution to all concerned. This message is pertinent to Republicans and Democrats, alike. Libertarians, Greens, and the membership of any other party you can think of will benefit as well. Provided they listen, of course. And there’s the rub, because listening isn’t common during campaign season. Instead we tend to focus on name-calling, reputation-bashing, muck-raking, and mud-slinging.
Keep this in mind if you can; politics is about philosophy. It’s a debate of opinions, not personalities. There is no absolute right. There is no absolute wrong. There is only the consensus we agree to accept for the moment. Rest assured, whatever that consensus is, it will change over time. It always has. It always will. It will change because we change. It’s fated to be so. As surely as the weather rotates through various seasons, political opinion and social norms are in a constant state of change.
Now this is the truly important part of this post, because I am not writing to that rude guy from work who just won’t shut up about his favorite issue or candidate. And I’m not writing about your in-laws and their penchant for berating you for holding firm to a different political affiliation than they do. I’m writing to you. Specifically and intentionally, I’m writing to you. For all intents and purposes, at this moment, there is only you and me – and an idea. So pay close attention because there will be a test coming up in the not too distant future.
Remember this and keep it in perspective. In this American election cycle, the candidates are all Americans. The delegates are all Americans. The Supervisors of Election from coast to coast are Americans. And the voters are Americans. Perhaps you’re noticing a theme to this process we use to periodically affirm and refresh our Republic. It is an American theme, filled with American ideals, American hopes, and American dreams.
When you disparage others for holding a different opinion, you are not attacking an enemy agent. You are attacking your neighbors, your co-workers, your own extended family members, and your future relations. There is no enemy in our ranks, there are only fellow Americans who are doing their best to find their way in life – just as you are.
My hope for this political season is not that one candidate will prevail over another, or that one party will temporarily displace the other in this house or that one. Rather my hope is that Americans will come to value this remarkable system of government we were gifted with. That we learn to not only respect our fellow Americans, but learn to act as if we respect them – even when they hold opinions that differ from our own.
Make no mistake, I will vote. I may even campaign for a candidate or a cause. But I will express my choices, and frame my arguments in a way that makes this point clearly – no matter how much I believe my opinion to be valid, no matter how fervently I wish my candidate to serve in elective office, I will respect your right to hold an opposing opinion and work just as hard to bring it to the attention of people you meet and interact with.
I respect the Presidency of the United States, the Legislative Branch, the Judicial Branch, each state’s governor, legislature, county and municipal body. I respect your right to speak your mind, share your perspective, and campaign for the candidates and issues you choose to support. The question is, will you respect mine? I certainly hope you will.
If every American would read this brief post, consider their position, and modify their behavior and language to be truly dedicated to the American ideal of freedom of expression, our nation will be well served no matter who fills which office. Because this nation isn’t strong and resilient due to the power and the strength of the man (or woman) who resides in the White House. Our nation is a world leader because of the strength and the power of the people who elected to put a fellow Americans there at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, forty-four times previous to this (excepting the first one, of course, since the White House was not built yet).
Please think hard, act with grace, and accept the will of your neighbors when the votes are counted – at least until the next campaign season rolls around. We all deserve at least that much, don’t you think?
I wish you well.