That title is an actual statement by my parents in our kitchen the night before the 1968 elections when I was probably 10 years old. Some of you may remember that election; Nixon vs. Humphrey (who was Johnson’s VP) and Nixon ended up winning.
When you’re 10 years old those kinds of statements scare the hell out of you. That night was sleepless as I struggled with many questions: What, moving away? Where are we moving? What about my friends? What about school? Why do we have to?
Of course my parents didn’t actually have answers to those questions, they were making that statement based on the opinion that if Humphrey got into office, life in the US would have been so horrible, we would have to move away. Of course, once you are older and understand how the political system works, you know that thought is ludicrous. But at 10, it’s pretty scary.
Fear. It’s a great motivator, and it can crush you as well.
Now that the 2012 elections have gone past us, thank god, it’s really time to take a look at what, at least in my memory, was one of the most contentious and horrible political seasons in modern time.
2012 election politics ran purely on Fear. It started out as most presidential re-elections go – incumbent states the “job’s not done yet, but we’re making progress,” opposing candidate states “job isn’t near done as promised; so we need someone else to do it, time for change.” Doesn’t matter what the party lines are, the sound bites are the same every four years.
Somewhere along the line the “handlers” on each side of the fence decided that Fear was the way to own this election. The media, always happy to push the envelope if it sells papers (some of you may remember newspapers, but now there are fewer printed issues) and “clicks,” stoked this Fear fire to the extreme. One-sided political articles abounded for both candidates on news sites and blogs. To help this, extreme factions on both sides (usually the ones with the money to support) pushed their agendas in advertisements and the like. Social Media, with the onset of commenting now available to the general public on most sites, helped the “noise” grow to a horrific level in this country. Name calling, racial epithets, belittling, bullying by supporters on both sides made this a nauseating process.
To add to the growing Fear Factor of this election was Misinformation, which ruled the day.
Not here to say which candidate is right and which is wrong; but the impact this election had on the psyche of this country is something which won’t go away quickly. Friends and family members ceased to speak to each other. On Facebook, I witnessed vitriolic comments from supposed friends, name calling, and hosts of de-friending’s with some even saying “go ahead and de-friend me if you don’t like my view”– it was both sad and embarrassing. The Twittersphere (can’t believe I know that phrase) was boiling as well, with hateful comments at both public figures and regular people…gosh, there’s nothing like the instant access and gratification of social media!
However, what I fear is that we’ve become a country divided. This is more concerning than any legislative policy change that either party could potentially initiate. Healthy debate with others is one thing, spewing hate is quite another. It’s got to end.
I don’t have the final answer to how to correct this, but my instinct says it has to come within the persons creating the Fear and our leaders to disallow it to continue.
Just in case though, here are my suggestions to help quash Fear without having to move out of the country:
- Re-friend your pals on Facebook. If they are truly your friends, then add them back. Politics is just one other argument over a beer with friends like who’s the best sports team, reviewing movies or TV shows, or deciding which bartender is the hottest. Politics, is that argument really worth ending a friendship? I will say however, that those who don’t think Animal House was the best movie ever can feel free to de-friend me at any time!
- Agree to disagree. Know that others have a difference of opinion and honor that. I wasn’t on the debate team in school, but I’m pretty sure that name calling didn’t earn bonus points, move you to the head of the team, or win the competition.
- Politicians – take responsibility. Blaming others for your problems is not the way to move forward. Take a note from the real job playbook; if you were working for a company and blamed the last guy or gal in your role continually for your poor performance, you wouldn’t be working long. Come instead with a solution, not an excuse. Because, you will most surely take credit if something good happens on your watch.
- Politicians – think before you speak. I read and heard answers from incumbents and candidates to questions from the media and public in this election and laughed thinking they were kidding – but no, they were serious. That’s scary! Oh, and stay away from medical questions.
- Media – we know you are in the business to make money by having lots of engaged readers who click on your advertiser’s products; but let’s stop exacerbating the problem by writing articles with the intention of inciting riots in the comments section. It’s unproductive, and not journalism. While we’re at it, journalism is also not an article on the Kardashian’s getting coffee at Starbucks.
- Actors and Actresses – we appreciate what you do, we go to your movies and/or watch you on TV or online. We’ll follow what you wear, happy to be involved in your life as portrayed through the invasive media. Just know that ticket sales and Nielsen ratings don’t translate to us as qualifiers for deep political thinking, unless we’re under the voting age. I mean, I’m a Dexter fan – who do you think he’s voting for? ‘Cause I’m on board. Although, there are days I wish he were a candidate!
- People – get information before you decide things. Don’t let fear sway you as most of it comes via little or no information, and is usually used to deflect the view from a real issue. If it sounds wacky like “Obama’s going to invade your savings account,” or “you’ll never have sex again if Romney gets into office,” it’s probably there for the Fear. Read up, listen, decide…and yes, that’s for all Parties.
- Speaking of Parties – The donkey and the elephant need to grow up and embrace their followers. Platforms are antiquated; we’ve got too many octogenarians from both sides in Congress and the Senate who have been there way too long. Its time for new blood all around. I’m thinking age discrimination isn’t a bad thing when it comes to Washington, DC.
- Presidential candidates – you guys look great, get to ride around in planes, limos, shake a lot of hands, kiss a lot of babies…but the fact of the matter is you are employees of the rest of the country. And a population split down the middle in this election (less than 3 million as of this writing) isn’t a mandate for either of you – it means you both got work to do, even the one who lost. Oh, and while we’re at it, let’s actually get something done!
- Electoral College – this is the one university that receives no applications for attendance. Nobody has ever graduated from here, talk about misguided. Understand why it was put in place, but really –Ohio 18 votes? Florida 29? Yeah, the Electoral College makes sense because college is where we all made really good decisions:-)
- America– the fact of the matter is you need to look beyond the Fear – it’s not real. Change will come, some good, some bad, but be comforted that there are many checks and balances in the political system which make the fear-monger worries laughable. Don’t tolerate Fear or it will own you.
Finally, I’m sure many have read this thinking “Great, here’s another moderate who’s lost – a sometime “bagger”, sometime “lib” who needs to come to grip with reality and doesn’t get it”…well, I’m here to tell you I’m not chucking my friends because I disagree with their political views, those relationships are too valuable. Also, I’m smart enough to realize that whoever is in the top job isn’t getting anything done without support from the competition and from the populace (read “employer”).
So, I guess if you don’t like my opinion, please feel free to move on…speaking of moving on, anyone know of a good real estate agent in the Caribbean?