My nine-year-old daughter is trying to figure out who to vote for (not that she can vote yet). She was talking with her friends at school the other day about her choice for president. “I vote for Mrs. Obama because she likes kids, she reads to them, she exercises a lot, and she even invites them to the White House. I saw her talk on Nickelodeon. I don’t know if that other lady will do that,” she declared.
A listening boy next to her said, “I hate you. You are stupid.”
She asked why he hated her. He said, “My dad says no one should vote for Obama. I hate you!”
Over dinner that night she asked why this boy hated her. “We are voting for a president. I don’t understand,” she said. I told her, “He doesn’t hate you. He is saying what his dad believes, or says to others. Don’t take it personally honey—vote for what you believe in. Everyone has a difference of opinion, and that’s what makes America great!”
The issue of continuity is upon us, especially as we are forced to endure a vulgar and sordid election season that is rife with inaccurate accusations, hatred and mean-spiritedness. Candidates are so busy pointing fingers at their opponents that the issues most important to America’s continuity are lost in the rhetoric. Interestingly however, is that the foundation of democratic politics was rooted in the belief that elected officials representing different constituent groups worked together using the political process to move America in a positive direction.
History has shown us that there can be no continuity without some compromise. We have seen it in every major historical era of this country—the Civil War, the Great Depression, Vietnam and the list goes on and on. As Colin Powell so eloquently said, “… just as they did in Philadelphia when they were writing the constitution, sooner or later, you've got to compromise. You've got to start making the compromises that arrive at a consensus and move the country forward.”
While no one can be right every time, in my opinion we must embrace a civically-engaged, thoughtful and formidable discussion on the issues, and realize that while others may disagree with you, they are not necessarily wrong—they just don’t see things the way you do.
If the conversations of fourth graders are any indication as to what the temperature is in this country, we should reflect on our actions and words as adults. This country was founded by gritty pioneers who risked it all for freedoms that we enjoy to this day—speech, the right to bear arms, and the right to vote for those whose beliefs and policies align most with ours. And, it will require compromise to make this change.
Can we find a way to be kind, to be accepting, to be involved, and to ultimately be amazing?
What do you think—can we compromise for the sake of our children and grandchildren? Can we withhold our hatred, and realize that conversations should be about policy—not a personal affront to our neighbors? Isn’t that the foundation that this country was founded on? And, shouldn’t we commend those leaders who are willing to work side-by-side on policy, to get the work done instead of practicing the rhetoric and the politics?
You decide by getting involved!
All the best,