I hate to be one of those people who takes the "when I was young" approach to dealing with the world. As tempting as it is, the fact is that the world isn't the way it was and whining about that generally does little good. Better to deal with reality, I've always thought, then waste time in 'if only' land. However, recently I find myself looking more and more at the way things used to be - particularly in the realm of politics.
I seem to remember that political elections took place and were hard fought. However, after the election, people seemed to 'get on with it' and work with what they had. It seems that when we made the transition from Republican to Democratic leadership (or in the other direction), elected officials (after the obligatory period of mourning and 'what- iffing') picked up where the 'other' had left off and built on what was there.
One of the most disturbing things for me coming out of the 2008 election was Rep. Mitch McConnell's public assertion that "The Republican goal will be to make Barack Obama a one-term president." The following 4 years of what appeared to be obstructionism for the sake of obstructionism were disturbing to me. The stated goal was not to move the country forward, solve problems, deal with issues and get on with the business of governing. I heard more than one Republican politician (and voter for that matter) expressing the opinion that the first order of business after Romney won this election would be to repeal the current health care law. Ultimately, that message was very clear. Our goal is to tear down. Our goal is to destroy. Our position is to assert that we are SO right and the others are SO wrong that the only answer is to destroy all the work that has been done so that we can implement our view of 'right'.
I was raised in South Dakota - a Republican stronghold. South Dakota has only gone the way of the Democrats in 4 elections since it became a state, the most recent in 1964 when I was 4 years old. Even so I came out a Democratic, due to any number of factors not the least of which was a strong parental influence. It should come as no surprise to my family or friends that I voted yesterday to re-elect President Obama. It probably shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has read this blog for any length of time either.
I am, I think, a representative Democrat - a Democrat like the majority of others. I don't believe that all Republicans are evil. I don't believe that all Republican positions are evil. (My mind is not so certain when it comes to the Tea Party, I admit.) I don't believe in free rides. I do believe that people should work hard to support themselves and that, on occasion, they may need help and that providing a safety net for those circumstances is what a civilized society does. I don't resent paying my fair share of taxes and I expect others to do the same. (Yesterday I voted 'yes' on 2 local referenda that will increase my property taxes for the next 10 years - even though I have no children I believe that educating the children in my community is a public good.) I don't want to live in a 'nanny state' where the government dictates to me how I should behave in my personal life. And I believe that there are automatically some restrictions on individual freedoms that must come when living in concert with others.
I have worked very hard this political season to keep my comments and opinions to myself. I haven't plastered my Facebook page with cartoons or placards declaring my disgust with the 'other' or why my chosen positions have the moral high ground (which, I will admit, has been extremely difficult at times.) :-) I have been extremely reticent about 'liking' too many of my friends' posts either - no matter how on target I felt they were or how much I agreed with them.
So here I would take a moment to appeal to my friends and family members who are disappointed in the outcomes of yesterday's local and national elections - on both sides of the political divide. Please do not take on the Mitch McConnell approach to the next 4 years. Please do not dig your heels in and refuse to move forward in any way - "oh I'm just going to check out and wait until 2014 or 2016 when we can take it all back." Do not take the automatic position that if the proposal is coming from the 'other' party that it must be evil and must be defeated and if it passes our society is coming to a fiery end. Recognize that just because you believe it to be true - doesn't mean that it is the only answer or the only way for the world to be. Recognize that we have been moving back and forth on this political pendulum since the beginning of our country and we have survived.
I'm not asking you to change your positions or to stop supporting what you believe is right. I'm not asking you to change your political affiliation. I am asking you to put your energy into working with what we have. Support your legislators who are trying to engage in bipartisan work. Support local and national efforts to solve problems - even if the solutions are not perfectly in line with your sentiments. Support your government and spend your time working to make this world we live in better for ALL of us - not just those who share your positions.
I did the patriotic thing and lifted today's image from:
2 hours ago