A welcome respite

November 6, 2010

I’m so glad this election season is over.  We had a few particularly ugly races this year, both in our little town and elsewhere.  More often than usual I was left feeling like I wasn’t all that thrilled about either candidate.  I found myself trying to sift through the drama to the people underneath.   

Our elections reflect the mood of our country.  It seems we are all a little edgy, a little defensive, a little grouchy.  We’ve been hearing too much about recession and unemployment and how things are just generally a mess. 

The candidates aren’t the only ones bickering.  It seems we’ve all awakened on the wrong side of the bed.

Every election, I scour the candidates’ profiles, searching in vain for that dream candidate – the one who will unite everyone and simply make our day. 

It doesn’t matter to me whether the candidate is running for national, state, or local office.  I don’t care about their political party affiliation. 

I just want one candidate – anywhere, for anything – who doesn’t split us down the middle.  I’m searching for an icon, like Abraham Lincoln.  Then again, half the country seceded during Lincoln’s tenure, so maybe he’s not the best example.

It occurred to me after I left the polls that maybe my expectations are too high.  There are some really good folks on the ballot, or so it seems, since I don’t really know any of them personally. 

For every nasty word someone says about any particular candidate, there is always somebody else who stands up in his or her defense. 

Sometimes I think it would be easier to be partisan.  I wish I was comfortable getting behind a platform, regardless of the individual at the forefront in any given race.  It would save a great deal of time and energy if I stopped worrying about the person behind the slogans and endorsements. 

A recent Pew Research Center study indicated that 38 percent of Americans identify themselves as independent – the largest number in our nation’s history. 

In 2008, the Independents cleaned out all the Republicans from the House of Representatives.  Now, two years later, we’ve cleaned out the Democrats. 

I haven’t decided yet whether all these congressional switcheroos are a good thing or a bad thing.  Maybe a little of both.  Good because things weren’t (and still aren’t) going very well, so we might as well try something different.  Bad because ours aren’t easy problems to solve. 

If we keep replacing those who have been devoting their lives to solving these issues, we risk losing the battle to the rookies. 

If our entire culture shifts from one philosophy to another every two years, we’re all going to get awfully dizzy.  Or perhaps we already are.  That would explain why we can’t seem to figure out what direction we’re headed. 

I’m already dreading the 2012 election.  There are going to have to be some legislative and economic miracles performed for America to be in a better mood two years from now.  

I like to think we are experiencing the growing pains of what will eventually turn out to be a more mature society.  But that doesn’t make the process any less painful.

This article first appeared in the Lewistown News-Argus and the Sidney (Mont.) Herald on November 6, 2010.