I’m betting it’s safe to assume that the average American is looking forward to Tuesday night/Wednesday morning when the midterm elections will finally be over and political advertisements will cease for a while. I certainly won’t miss the influx of junk mail and robo-calls. However, I doubt that things will calm down once the results are in and the winners announced. A month ago I posted an entry entitled “Us Versus Them” Helps No One. The feelings behind that post are still strong, but the results of these elections I feel will continue to divide us.
I hate to be pessimistic in this blog, but with every year that passes, it seems to me that Americans are less able to agree to disagree. I think part of this stems from social media and the ease of finding like-minded people with which to build communities. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if people rely on these communities for all of their emotional support, they fail to practice socializing with people who don’t think like them. If we forget how to have civil interactions with those we disagree with, then how are we supposed to relate and empathize with them?
We need to seek common ground with people who have different viewpoints than ourselves. I believe this is most easily accomplished at a real-world community level. When you can find local issues that affect both you and your neighbors equally, you have common ground. Your solutions to local problems may differ in some ways, but you both agree that things need to change. And being neighbors, it’s more difficult to see each other as faceless, nameless adversaries.
There are numerous groups and people looking at these midterm elections expecting change for America. They’ve put a lot of hope in the outcome of Tuesday’s voting, but I fear many will be disappointed. Not because their choice for candidate might lose, but because looking to the federal government to change your life is foolhardy. Yes, many of the federal government’s policies have a ripple effect that can help or hinder local communities, but if you really want to see a change in your life, you should look to locally.
I hope you’ll forgive the political talk when I know we’re already surrounded by it. I wish you a great week, no matter how the elections go!