Monday, November 5, 2012

This Isn't What They Meant by "Suffrage"

By the time anyone reads this we will be either one day away from the election or it will be Election Day in the good old U.S. of A. In case it has escaped your notice (which means that you’ve been living under a rock or in complete denial) there is a major election going on. Those who vote will be deciding things like the Presidency, state and local offices, various amendments and, for some, whether or not they can buy beer on Sunday.
I’m not going to say anything about the beer on Sunday thing. Do whatever you want there. For the rest, I will not (to the relief of many) endorse a candidate here. If I want you to know who I may be supporting with my vote, you already know. If you don’t know, speculate all you want. All you’ll get from me is a knowing smile.
Still, I do have something to say about this whole election hoopla. Are you ready? Here it is:
Just shut up.
Yeah, that’s right. Zip it. Shut your cake hole. Silence is golden, so here’s your chance to get rich.
Pretty much all I hear from any candidate is why their opponent is a moral degenerate with either the IQ of a turnip or the devious mind of Ming the Merciless. It’s the fashion in America to slam the opposition with as much half-truth and innuendo as the airwaves and print media will allow. I’ve been suffering through so many TV and radio blitzes, automated phone calls and mass mailings that I’ve worn out the mute button on the remote, broken the knob off my radio, thrown my phone across the room and put barbed wire around my mailbox. Supporters of various candidates can’t seem to understand why I won’t join them with torch and pitchfork in hand to chase the evil miscreants out of politics and, preferably, out of the country all together. They want to claim America from someone else who wants to re-claim America from them. I just want to re-claim my life from all these people. I don’t think that this is the kind of “suffrage” that people have fought and, in some cases, died for.
I peruse a couple of social media sites because they help me stay in contact with friends and family. Social – get it? These days, there is very little that is “social” about it. Mostly what I see are people who, most of the time, seem to be reasonable and level headed. When there is an election, however, these same reasonable and level headed people become rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth, name-calling, mean-spirited individuals who act like they don’t have the good sense that God gave a rock.
When the day after the election arrives, we’ll be inundated with all kinds of reasons and excuses as to why one candidate (or initiative, or referendum) passed muster and another didn’t. We’ll also begin to see people posturing for the next election. As if the one we just had wasn’t painful enough, we’ve got to start the whole thing over again – no time for binding our wounds, no time for finding ways to make things work and no time for treating people with respect. This is America, where the only thing that seems to count is winning. After all, that’s why we have American Idol and Survivor. We want to see winners and we want to mock losers. “Give me your tired, your poor and your huddled masses” has become “Get lost, loser. We don’t have time for you.”
I believe that the most dangerous threat that America faces is not from terrorists or economic crises. The most dangerous threat to America is Americans who have lost respect for one another. When we have lost that, we’ve lost respect for the reason America exists in the first place.
Throughout Election Day and the days after, consider that it may be possible for Americans to take part in the process of government because we love our country and not because we hate someone else whose ideas are different from our own. Consider the possibility that when it’s all done, we might still respect and even care for one another.
Wouldn’t that be a truly great way to honor America?