The elections are blessedly over. Now maybe my hijacked phone, mailbox and Facebook friends will all return to normal (at least, once they quit ruminating or rejoicing in the results).
I've just about had it with the entire process.
I feel it's a violation of my personal privacy for politicians to bombard my phone with their "important" recorded messages. I either don't answer or hang up immediately.
I feel it's a waste of trees to flood my mailbox with their voter contact mail - positive or negative. It all goes into the trash with nary a glance.
I feel uncomfortable when friends on social media go bananas, expressing negativity towards politics or people outside of their own party. It's always struck me as unproductive.
This year, I noticed there was a lot of vote shaming on social media also, and that bothered me. Is there a soul in the United States that doesn't understand voting is a right?
There was also a lot of vote-crowing: "I voted!" I'm not quite sure what to make of that. We are proud of doing our civic duty? We are encouraging others to vote? It was a little perplexing, but then again, on social media, we announce what we eat for dinner or what we did at the gym, so voting would actually rank as a super special event.
I know I sound jaded, and I admit, I am.
From a young age, I skirted away from politics. I didn't care about it, and I thought it turned normal people into yahoos. Ironically, when I moved to Northern Virginia in the mid-'90s, I landed a job in politics. It was a stretch.
That led to another job even more steeped in politics, producing voter contact mail and radio commercials in support of one political party. I wrote copy and later became the art director for such endeavors, working for a number of candidates from state legislatures right on up to the Oval Office (which I confess was kind of a thrill).
Ultimately, it only added to my angst as I saw the political process, maneuvering and machine up close. Not to mention I sometimes saw what happened to well-meaning idealistic candidates after they become elected (see Machine).
I'm of the belief our current system is broken. I think the party system is an atrocity. Several administrations, probably more, have made some egregious decisions. I am sickened by how the government spends our money, as well as what politicians negotiate to get their slice of bacon.
It makes me not want to participate in the process or exercise my right to vote, no matter how dishonoring that is to suffragettes. Surely I am not alone, as an astonishing number of people don't vote.
And yet, before you lambaste me, I voted.
Some odd years ago, as I was lamenting the process, my brother-in-law Vic, who is passionate about politics, suggested I focus on voting at the local level, where the impact of our vote most counts. Not only is it easier to familiarize myself with local candidates (and sometimes, I even know them living in a smallish town), but I agree with his logic. What happens locally affects me a heck of a lot more than what our United States Congress is typically cooking up.
This election, I found wisdom in something a colleague wrote about responsible voting. The gist was hey, try and learn about the candidates and issues from a variety of sources, understanding the bias of all. If the election rolls around and you still haven't done that, take the time to do a crash course and still vote.
In my case, I voted only for candidates (and in one case, against a contender) I felt educated about, as well as the amendment issue, which had been brought to my attention in the last few weeks. That, in my mind, is doing my civic duty and honoring all those who were denied the right to vote in our nation's past.
I get that it's my responsibility to participate in the process, but I sure wish politics (and by that I mean politicians, constituents, the machine, government) wasn't so hard, distasteful and divisive.
The last decade, at least, my mind has been screaming about the lack of support we show one another on various levels. This political arena would be one where it's grossly apparent. It goes against my grain.
Here's where my head is at: let's lift each other up, people. Let it be the first thought we have before we speak, write or act. Let it begin with those closest to you and move exponentially outward: from your family, to your friends, to your coworkers, to your town, to your state, to your nation, to the world, to mankind.
Or, keep bashing Republicans, Democrats or the president. Call attention to their gaffes. Make others feel big or small. Repeat for infinity.
This column originally appeared in The Journal on Sunday, November 9.
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