At some point in the lives of ordinary Americans, some earlier than others, the realization that your nations interests are being looked after by people elected every once in a while to this office or that becomes reality. You know this because you hear about these elections on the news, now that you’ve decided to watch, or from a friend or relative, or maybe you asked someone about their “I voted” sticker on their shirt. You then make a conscious choice to look into this matter, maybe even listen to the various ideas candidates have, pick a side, then actually vote. Voting isn’t a requirement, and some people never do, but you learn that power decides for you, so grab some for yourself, by putting your person in there to fight for you. At least, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.

Among many aggravations which arise when people decide to invest themselves in this process, a good example is having heard most assuredly that “this election is the most important in the history of the country”, and then having your candidate lose that election, angst beyond measure is certainly generated. Watching the other sides candidate cheerily espousing the exact opposite of what you have decided is true and good, with a cheering crowd attending the affair, can be annoying at best. Then there’s the odd case when your elected officials position on an issue precisely matches yours, bills are passed, law is made, bureaucracy lumbers into action, but a small group of unelected officials halt or misdirect the whole matter. (See The Courts)

Becoming involved in the political arena is always a great idea. Staying informed, discussing ideas, helping others understand issues and candidates will always be a civic duty of the committed citizen and warrants commendation and praise. They say discussing politics with friends and family is, or ought to be, forbidden in normal life. Those who preach this are out to hide something or cowards.

Also, helping the less experienced around you to parse candidates positions with civility and grace will always be helpful, though I stink at it…my blood pressure goes up exponentially when I hear what I’ve determined to be less than truthful ideas or just plain bad policy being extolled by candidates. I change the channel when those with whom I disagree are at a rally, finding it easier to restrain my contempt when the format is an interview without the herd catterwalling in the background. Even then, I sometimes yell at the TV, mostly to make a point to my wife, whose a genteel and civil woman and a person who seeks to avoid conflict. For the most part, I indulge her taste for the sake of peace, but I confess that it’s a struggle.

Crudely stated, the deal in America is that you get to shoot your mouth off, no matter how ludicrous, and then I get my turn as well, and then we call that exercise tolerance, hopefully arriving at an understanding. I’m not so sure anymore. We have a second generation intolerant policy, one of many stealthily slipped into place, where word monitoring thought police decide what you can and cannot say. This leads, of course, to lots of lying and unresolved issues.

So, what’s my point?

This is the time of year when millions of people wake from their hibernation and begin to notice something different going on, many for the first time in their lives. They hear lots of packaged, nuanced ideas in speeches that sound just peachy and noble, compassionate and nice. What they don’t hear are in-depth explanations of these ideas, whether they’ve been tried before, or how badly they may have failed. They don’t hear who originated the ideas and policies, nor does the coded language used to present them have a legend. In short, this is the time of year when April Fool’s lasts all the way up to November 4th.

Please be encouraged to help our fellow Americans learn to tolerate differences of opinion, to challenge ideas they disagree with, to express freely their own ideas, to vote for candidates that represent what’s best for America, not just themselves, and, if possible, learn to enjoy the whole frustrating, exasperating experience.

I can only roughly misquote this, but basically, “Politics is the way we manage our hate for one another.” Strong perhaps, but truish.

One difference between America and a great deal of the rest of the world; we peacefully transfer power to our political enemies. No tanks, no rioting in the streets, no murder of the opposition…it’s what makes us great. The claim is we’re more divided than ever. Maybe, but we have a way to cooperate and co-exist that will hopefully be around indefinitely.