Here it is election eve, November 2016.
For the most part, I’ve bit my tongue — and muzzled my keyboard — with regard to politics this election season. And I promise to go easy now that I’ve loosened my leash a little bit. I’ve certainly had a lot go through my mind. I’ve often felt like sharing it here. But this election season has been so terribly awful and disappointing that I decided to exercise considerable restraint rather than subject anyone to even more abuse.
What follows is brief, and based mostly on a short email that I sent to my good friend Kevin, who in turn included it in his daily Good News Today newsletter. I wish it had more good news, but sometimes the truth is not all good.
This is regarding election choices and exercising your right to the franchise. And the fact that many of us, Kevin included, dared to share their decisions and the reasons for them.
There are obviously going to be differences of opinion. It is a difficult year for many of us. Recent exchanges of banter and bickering have spawned several thoughts in my busy little head. Mostly, I try to not be critical of people’s selections and thinking. Voting is a personal choice and I realize we are all of us individuals. And that means “different.” But there are some cases where I can’t help myself, I grow critical and judgmental — although I try to keep these thoughts to myself and would not squelch such people even if I could. There are two such cases.
One is voting for someone because of what they have between their legs, even if it is only one of many criteria. That’s sexist and shallow. Intelligent votes are based on what’s between their ears and their resume’.
The second is when people attack a candidate they don’t prefer on non-policy grounds (e.g. Trump is a sexist pig who can’t string two simple sentences together; Clinton is a lying criminal who got rich without ever producing anything of value that Joe-or-Jane average US citizen can relate to). This second type of opinion that causes me to be judgmental only applies when it is pretty obvious that the argument is made by someone who almost certainly would have voted for the other candidate anyhow.
I cannot help but see such attackers as draped in their own self-made mantle of sanctimony while sitting on their imaginary throne of self righteousness. “News” provider people who do this are even worse. (e.g. Sean Hannity, Don Lemon). I’m not proud that I do this judging. Maybe it’s my own form of sanctimony and self-righteousness.
99% of the attacks on Trump (and there are many good reasons for them) that you see and hear are from people who would have voted Democrat anyhow. And vice versa. Probably 100%. I wear myself out with restraint when I read or hear someone criticize a candidate that they wouldn’t vote for even if that person were a saint.
So, finally, at long, long last, this will soon be over. This squabbling over candidates only increases the chance that we as a nation will continue to grow ever more fragmented and distrustful of one another — a Grand Canyon growing between us. Neither Mrs C or Mr T have demonstrated an ability to unite us; let’s not make it worse by doing the work for them, and tearing ourselves apart.
It’s okay to praise a candidate. Even the other side once in a while. It’s okay to respect others’ voices.
When it’s all over, Clinton or Trump in the White House makes no difference to your happiness, your health, your human dignity and your relationship with others. They can’t make you happy, successful, pleasant, magnanimous, rich or generous. You have to own all that yourself.
So, no matter what happens tomorrow, November 8, go out there everyday and make it a point to not just be nice to people who voted differently than you. Take time to listen when they dare to share their points of view, their logic and their passions. If they “attack” your candidate, this is a great opportunity. “Yes, I can see that. Of course. But what if it weren’t Trump or Clinton? What if they were a truly decent human? How would you vote then? What is important to you?” Listening is the most important quality. If you haven’t really learned anything, then you probably weren’t genuinely listening.
Really try. Otherwise this election will just drive us farther and farther from each other.
Wishing you peace.
Joe Girard (c) 2016