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One Woman's Opinion

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Put-down politics

Mary Wakefield Buxton

by Mary Wakefield Buxton

Urbanna, Va.— Oh, no, it’s that time again, the presidential election in November which happens like a Biblical plague every four years. But have we quite recovered from the last election? No.

The put-down political discourse is “warming up” with the usual operatives from each party already in full swing with their hurled insults to the other party and dished up “talking points” in preparation for “riling up” their followers and “getting out” the vote.

Last week I had the beginning of such emails from both camps mentioning “Republican greed” or “Democrat envy.” One is supposed to take this sort of stuff seriously . . . as if members of both parties don’t suffer with equal percentages of negative attitudes just as the rest of humanity.

The next batch of emails concerned a book titled “The Republican Brain,” which is supposedly “Neanderthal” compared to the more advanced “Democrat brain.” It didn’t take long to hear responding volleys from the opposing camp about the “dependent Democrat brain” awaiting more handouts from government. Just a warm up, dear readers, for more of the usual put-down politics.

But who wants to read such foolishness? The electorate is so sick of hearing such “civil discourse.” If this is talk radio, MSNBC and/or Fox News that are drumming up such audience, then please . . . change the station.

Most voters recognize put-down politics for what it is—propaganda to incite the very basest emotion in voters, and it seems to expand and worsen with every election.

Must one side always be branded as “bad” and the other side as “good?” Is one side always “wrong” and the other side always “right?” Are “they” utter fools while “we” are the enlightened ones? Or aren’t we all Americans and one family, and shouldn’t we keep that concept foremost in mind beyond political convictions?

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if both parties would agree that they both offer needed ideas to society and then wage campaigns without the insults? Give us less radicalism, zeal, dogma and rude name-calling and more substantive ideas?

In my mind, most voters are moderate, a little bit conservative and a little bit liberal, what I call a lovely mix, and voters move as it should between offerings of both parties choosing to vote for the best candidate in every election. The electorate prefers campaigns to be run on the basis of platforms and records, not crude insults. Hope springs eternal that party operatives and candidates will please tone down the negatives.

The truth is there is no such thing as “Republican greed,” “Democrat envy,” “Republican brains” or “Democrat brains.” There are only Americans who work very hard trying to make ends meet for themselves, their families and any employees they may have onboard. Each person has his own slate of problems to solve in life and does his best to survive in a very difficult and complicated world.

Still, in spite of our differences, we are all one family. Maybe each political party appeals to one sub-group or another, that is how our two party system works, but political campaigns that aim to polarize Americans and divide us according to membership in economic, racial, religious and gender divisions do great damage to this nation.

I have had the pleasure (or displeasure) to look back on many presidential campaigns over the years and it’s never been as hostile and downright nasty as it is now. Have we ever been as polarized? But why are we so divided? Why have we resorted to such low levels of name calling? Why have we seemingly lost our collective national understanding that there are two sides to every issue and in a free society each side has important points that must not be ignored by the other?

As the election approaches, please take a step back, take in a big breath of fresh air, and remember we in Middlesex County are family, friends and neighbors before we are members of any political party. How very fortunate we are to have free elections and choices at the polls. But what price of freedom and choice if we can’t be pleasant to our neighbor, friend, or family member if he is supporting a candidate different from ours?

It would improve matters greatly with each election if party operatives and candidates would keep one human frailty ever in mind . . . our universal propensity for err. We might be wrong? Yes, we might be wrong. Worse, the other side just might be right.

A little humility, a little less taking ourselves so seriously, a little understanding that everyone has problems in life, and a little more love and compassion for our fellow man would go a long way to improve existing low levels of political discourse. 


posted 04.25.2012

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