Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Now that that's over…

We are FINALLY at the end of an especially grueling election cycle.  For the most part, I kept my politics to myself or expressed them with the like-minded people I know.  I like to say that I'm a liberal conservative or a conservative liberal, you may take your pick.  Thus, it was with some embarrassment that I had to declare a party affiliation when I registered to vote on election day.  Yes, on election day; Wyoming allows this.   Much I was not going to vote all, great pacifist that I am, I went and cast my vote for the first time in nearly 20 years, making this only the third presidential election I have voted in during my 50 odd years in this life. 

What was so striking about this election cycle was the great chasm it created it amongst the American people, the way it divided us and made us the least of what we are as a society.  People I felt to be otherwise intelligent, thinking people became rabidly attached to their "side" of the equation, and given to a rather constant barrage of what I can only describe as a type of verbal diarrhea, and they simply would not shut up about politics.  Being a pacifist at heart, but deeply an old-style American and equally deeply a Catholic, this was very difficult to tolerate from both sides. 

Most concerning was the total lack of the ability to compromise, the intolerance, the bigotry, the ignorance, the complete inflexibility to even consider that there is another point of view other than their own.  This is NOT what America is all about!  This is true of Congress, of course, but they are drawing on the desires and behavior of their constituents, therefore, the deadlock in Congress is quite home grown with you and me, and carried forward to the national level.

Our greatest strength, the root of our prosperity, our greatness as Americans, as a country, is our ability to be flexible, to adapt, to grow and change and develop into the greatest country in the world.  How, when and why did we lose this?  Moving back to our roots, to what made this country great, is the key to our future. 

I don't mean, however, trying to turn back the clock to the 1950s in America.  That decade holds some sort of strange appeal for so many Americans and particularly politicians.  Was it really a simpler time?  Were we really better off?  In that era, black men like our president were still being lynched for so much as looking at a white woman.  Women could expect no more out of life than to marry, have a family, keep house, cook, clean and look after their children and husbands with no personal identity and no opportunity for self-actualization.  Women were as constricted by girdles as by society.  Men could not exercise their creativity or connect with their children in ways that are loving and nurturing.  They were often tied to jobs that drained the life out of them because it was what was expected of them.  They wore neckties like nooses around their lives.  How very sad. 

We can't carry America back to prosperity by turning back the clock, but we can look instead to turning the clock ahead some number of years, to a time when partisan politics is a dirty phase and deficit spending is a thing of the past.  We have to start with the person who looks back at us in the mirror and look at that person very hard and squarely on.  What have you done for your country lately?  Fought with an acquaintance about politics?  How is that working for you?  Did it create any jobs, stop abortion, balance the budget?  No, I thought not. 

This country has been going to "hell in a hand basket" for over 200 years, so if your candidate(s) weren't elected, I'm sorry for you.  This country has survived into its third century by the greatness of its people, not the greatness of its politicians.  I challenge you not to spend the next four years plotting your revenge and spend it instead on becoming a better person.  As Tip O'Neill said "All politics is local" and by local, I mean YOU.