In our time, being nonpolitical is very difficult, if not impossible. The more I observe the very emotional stands people take for their chosen candidates, the more I’m convinced that most or all of us believe pretty much what we want or need to believe, regardless of pesky facts that so often get in the way. Most of us are quite skilled at choosing facts that suit us and discarding those that don’t and giving more weight to the ones that condone what we already think is true. We are, of course, steered by our fundamental values and ideologies based upon a compendium of what we see as our best selves. Few among us want to be horrible people unless there is a psychosis involved. We like to see ourselves as ethical beings, not cheats or dishonest thugs taking advantage of underdogs. Anything that triggers the adrenalin rush of righteous indignation feels good, especially when that rush is shared by others. This is also the basis of mob rule, which can come about suddenly even among the most civilized folks through sheer anger and disappointment.
Our political parties have lost all sense of compromise, to the extent that issues seem absolutely black and white (no racial overtones intended, though such overtones may certainly be included in the wider view of where we are as a nation). There seem to be no areas of give and take. Thanks to mostly unbridled public opinion via Twitter, Facebook, radio talk shows, and television coverage tainted by the most shameless self-interest, we find that those who steer clear of Hillary Clinton do so not from simple aversion but from an abhorrence and abomination just this side of exorcism. Those who are not fans of Donald Trump are generally volcanoes of loathing for him not unlike the intense revulsion for plagues and tsunamis. There is no gray area anymore, because the person who is not our choice is automatically a pariah about whom any horror story of scandal and corruption is what we are predisposed and expected to believe, because it supports our comfort zones, where our own candidates can then bask safely in the glow of heroism against everything that has been annoying the hell out of us about government.
I long to see a middle ground from where we voters can see with cooler heads the good and bad on both sides with a willingness to accept the fact that no candidate is all good or all bad. There are no haloes in politics. There are sometimes duplicitous, deal-making and endless conniving to get things done for the greater good, despite even the most comatose or constipated congress. Even Abraham Lincoln and FDR were not above political shenanigans from time to time. No saint could ever survive or be an effective or realistic president, but we need at times to stand back without our rose-colored glasses to judge those qualities in a candidate that represent the ability to bring about change and also to honor some level of stability at the same time he or she is fighting the hotheads and deadweight in Washington so that it doesn’t become a mere wax museum.
Don’t believe everything you hear about any candidate just because you want to. Don’t be afraid to fact-check and then to check the fact-checkers. This election of 2016 for the White House may prove to be the most important in the lifetimes of us all, and I believe it’s still important and very American to be open to all reasonable ideas from candidates on all sides without the need to vilify or crucify an opposing candidate just to make the other look good. Name calling is for unruly kids, not for potential leaders of the Western World, and that goes for all candidates and their followers. We’re all in this together and shouldn’t be fighting one another to cloud issues the resolutions to which may help us to be a better nation now and for our children. JB