I confess....once upon a time, I did my share of political work including manning the phones and pamphlet-dropping from door-to-door. I think politics can bring out a great energy in people who feel passionately about a candidate or an issue. There's an element of the process that is the epitome of American citizenship. There's spirit, belief, and hope.
And, then, there's the rest. The vitriol on both sides seems to get worse with each passing year. The "other" candidate and the folks supporting him (intended as gender-neutral) are labelled with the same words that once composed schoolyard taunts. It starts from the top, with ads that we all know are more closely associated with the campaigns than fundraising-centered separations would suggest. And it passes down, including to people I greatly admire and whose passion I applaud but who seem to forget their manners. I know studies show negative campaiging does get results, but I also know I'm not the only one who stops listening when it moves from constructive difference to name-calling and bullying
There is a lot that divides us. Absolutely. But I really do believe most people, and most candidates, do have good intentions. We have different ways of getting there, but we all want our country and our society to succeed. I'm not blind to the fact that some positions do involve, for lack of a more productive word, hate. I absolutely see the anger this evokes in those labelled as "other"...and it is an anger I feel with them. Still, somehow, I still do think the beliefs stem from someplace genuine, a place that truly believe theirs is the path to a better future.
I felt moments of hope in the wake of the tragic storm when even politicians cast politics aside for the greater good. Chris Christie gained a lot of admiration in my book for refusing to focus on the election when his citizens were suffering. Watching neighbors share electric outlets and marathoners take disappointment and turn to charity gave me hope. I knew it would be short-lived given the timing of things, but I hope it comes back. And I truly hope that one day we'll find a way to capture that camaraderie and sense of community without needing a tragedy to inspire it.