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In My Opinion
Four Years Later, What Have We Learned?
Editor
Wednesday, October 31, 2012 • Posted October 31, 2012

Every presidential election cycle, I watch the campaigns and the swirl of media and advertising that surround them. Every time, I hold out hope that people will focus on the candidates for ALL the offices, learn as much as they can, and make intelligent choices. I also hang on to the dream that people will respect the offices, even when they don't like the officeholders; that they will treat anyone with an opposing viewpoint with dignity; and, that, no matter who wins, will work with the winner to move our country forward.

Perhaps I'm too idealistic.

Every time an election rolls around, people get more nasty, more hysterical and more angry. When it seems the most practical thing to do is to calmly and rationally discuss the pros and cons of candidates, or to discuss what solutions are available to fix our problems, instead we see people forwarding venomous emails, posting unproven comments or photos to social media and being rude and unkind to one another.

Maybe in an age when we watch Duck Dynasty and The Real Housewives of Atlanta for a guide to how we should behave, we deserve the result. When we watch these "reality" shows, we see people being selfish, arrogant, pushy and uninformed. In the back of our minds we start to think, "Well, if it works for them and they got their own television show...."

We've reached a time in our culture when it's no longer admirable to be smart and well spoken. We belittle those who have succeeded on their own merit and reward those that were able to take what they wanted. Though we know that civility and decorum require us to sometimes temper our comments and responses, we see people using foul language and flipping off anyone they don't agree with, and we think, "Why not?"

Every time a presidential election rolls around, I remind everyone that this is OUR president. Whether President Barack Obama wins reelection or is defeated by Governor Mitt Romney, when he is sworn into office, he is OUR president. He doesn't belong to the Democrats of Republicans. He doesn't belong to big business or to unions. He is the President of the United States of America. Now, if we could just act united, that would all work much better.

Four years ago, just after Barack Obama was sworn into office, this is the kind of unity we got:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

Rush Limbaugh: "I hope he fails."

Rep. Michele Bachmann: "we’re hoping that President Obama’s policies don’t succeed."

From day one, the goal wasn't to work together to fix the problems that were plaguing American, it was to take back the office. We elect people to office so that they can represent us in doing the business of the government. What does it say about us as a nation when we allow those people to seek ways to destroy the country so that they can retake their positions of power.

And, before Democrats become too smug in reading the above comments, look back at the refusal of a Democratic Congress to seat appointees, including judges for a backlogged judicial system, so that they could wait it out until a change. And when things changed, they screamed that Republicans were being childish and unfair. Short memories!

No matter who wins next Tuesday (which we probably won't know until late Wednesday), we need to remember that this is our country. We have "hired" the elected officials to act in our place and we need to start holding all of them accountable for bad behavior. No elected official should disrespect the offices they hold, or the offices of those they deal with on a daily basis. Screaming out "You lie," during a Presidential State of the Union address is immature, unprofessional and unacceptable.

You may not like who wins Senator or Congressman. You may not have voted for who is sworn in as President. However, they represent the values and beliefs of our country in holding those offices. Maybe if we started behaving better, we could reasonably expect them to follow suit. Maybe if we tell them every time they are embarrassing our country, they will start to realize that we will withhold our votes until they grow up and behave.

American government should not play out like an episode of Swamp People or Big Brother. If we continue to accept this descent into gross misconduct, then we have only ourselves to blame for what we get.

It’s all just my opinion.

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