Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Political prisoners

In one week, we as a country will go to the polls and decide who will try to run these United States for the next four years. We've come back from the brink of depression, but not fast enough for some people. We've had four years of triumph, strife, wars ending and continuing, unemployment numbers creeping down, inertia in Congress, health care for all debated, then made into law that withstood a Supreme Court challenge.

We've seen mid-term elections that showed people's distrust and dislike of the government as a whole and the President as an individual. And we've seen an increase of hatred, racism, disrespect and division.

And in one week, this will all continue. It probably will get worse.

We're all trapped. We're trapped by those who still are angry from the last election (you could hear crickets chirping in the schoolyard of EB's former school the day after President Obama was voted in) and we're trapped by those of us who believe this tide will unfortunately turn back to the elites, the haves, who have declared war on the havenots, who are eager to vote against their own interests.

And we're trapped by all the commercials. Forget for a minute the harsh political rhetoric that passes for conversation these days. We're constantly bombarded by sound bites, videos, nonsense phrases (binders of women?), zingers (horses and bayonets?) and no real discourse. We're all shouting across the aisle.

I'm tired. If President Obama is reelected, I'll be happy for a day and then go back to taking all the racist rants (which are hundredfold on the internet) as personal affronts. If Mitt Romney is elected, I'll be disappointed and then wait and see if this "businessman" can really create 12 million good jobs in a year. And when health care for all is repealed, Planned Parenthood is defunded, I'll watch while the haves again dump on the havenots and everyone turns a blind eye.

I'm tired. I'm tired of the commercials that come four at a time, first one side then the other for the national race, then the local races each have a go. I'm tired of hearing people say things like "I'm undecided, do I give up my reproductive rights to get a job?" Really?

We're all just prisoners of this dance. The money spent on all these elections could feed every hungry man, woman and child in America for years. We're asked to give more. Every day there are 10 emails asking for me to give a little bit more for this candidate or that, support this race or that one. On Facebook, we're zinging each other with this video, that photo, liking this candidate, challenging that one. Someone is making a lot of money, and it's surely not those of us in this seemingly endless political dance.

EB gets only a little of it at school. She says all but one of her friends in her Humanities class group is a Democrat, the other one likes Romney. But out of respect for him, when they had a class project to make a political ad, they didn't use either presidential candidate. They did a different advertisement for their project. How is it that 13-year-olds can figure out and respect each other's beliefs and those of us old enough to vote can't?

I remember when I was around her age, actually a little younger since I was 12 when Richard Nixon was elected. I remember coming to school after lunch wearing my HHH button and one of my classmates telling me that I may as well take it off because Nixon had been elected. I was devastated. I thought the world would end. Now this was 1968, and we had already lost Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. Surely Nixon's election was a sign of the Apocalypse.

Except it wasn't. I am a proud Democrat (although I have voted for Republicans before) who will be casting my vote for President Obama again. But if he doesn't get the second term, I know the world won't come to an end because of it. And it won't come to end if he does either, my friends on the other side of the aisle.

I will be disappointed if the votes don't go the way I want a week from today. But I will be happy to be free from all the commercials. For at least until the next midterm elections, and again four years from now, we will be free from the constant barrage of hatefulness and insults on television, radio, and the internet.

I've grown too cynical to believe we'll ever really come together as a nation. On Nov. 7, about half of the country will be incredibly unhappy.

I just want to be able to stop hiding my Republican friends' comments on Facebook. I want to be able to like them again. I'm tired of being a prisoner of these politics, yours, mine, and ours.

But don't forget to vote.

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