I’m feeling a little sad this morning. Not about the election itself – I am very happy about the outcome, not just at the presidential level, but truly thrilled by all the victories for women and for civil rights. I am sad that we have reached a point in our society where people are so angry and so cynical about the motives of those on the other side of the fence. I’ve seen posts this morning on Facebook from conservatives claiming that the only people name-calling are liberals, and liberals claiming the same thing about conservatives. Frankly, there was enough name-calling to go around. But how did we get to a place where we assume that the motives of those who disagree with us are to actively destroy our lives?
I have never liked discussing politics. Mostly because I really hate to argue. I do not enjoy a debate. I do not want to talk you out of your position or convince you that mine is better. And I do not want you to tell me that my opinion is worthless either. I know, I know, the benefit of debate is to be exposed to other points of view. But surely that means you have to listen, really listen, to other points of view. Try to understand them. Be open to the idea that those who disagree with you believe what they believe for a reason.
We live in a very complicated world. This is a big country and it is populated by citizens with a lot of different life experiences. There are some things that maybe just have to be taken off the table for us to move forward and work together. You can’t change the color of people’s skin. You can’t tell them what to have faith in or how to practice it. You can’t tell them who to love. You can argue about what the role of government should be and how it should play it. But the role of government is not to deny rights or enforce morality. And if you are going to try to link up conservative fiscal policies with social and moral restrictions and controls, then I think you end up with the results we got last night.
I didn’t vote for President Obama because I agree with everything he’s done or what the Democrats in Congress want. I voted for President Obama because he wants to make the tent bigger, not smaller.
Thomas Friedman said it far better than I ever could in his op-ed today:
“We think you’re trying. Now try even harder. Learn from your mistakes. Reach out to the other side, even if they slap away your hand, and focus like a laser on the economy, so those of us who voted for you today without much enthusiasm can feel good about this vote.”