Thu November 1, 2012
Commentary: Voting Public Also Needs To Clean Up Its Act
Political candidates are often taken to task for how low they'll go to win an election, and for good reason, says commentator Lisa Kunkleman. But she says political discourse among voters also needs to improve.
Last week, after a bombardment of Facebook posts by some of my very genteel friends, expressing every political rant imaginable, I started thinking of posting my own thoughts. A few posts talking about Mitt Romney flip-flopping and not caring about common people. On the other side, some posts went as far as calling the president an idiot and the evil destroyer of America. My fingers on the keyboard ready to fire off an angry retort, I paused. I decided to think before posting.
Would we tolerate such nasty language and behavior from our children? Should we model such immature behavior as name-calling, blaming and just plain lying to get what we want in this election? Expressing our own opinion as gospel and declaring anything else as idiotic is not only arrogant, but is the grownup version of playground bullying.
My upbringing as a Southerner and a Christian taught me the Ten Commandments, the Golden Rule and manners galore. Love each other, love God, and forego your cursing, stealing, lying and killing. Respect your parents and treat others as you wish to be treated.
Some of our kids' friends jokingly call me "the mother of us all." So, I guess it was time to mother some adults on Facebook.
With renewed calmness, I took a deep breath, prayed for guidance and started typing. My Facebook post went something like this:
We have two good men running for the same office. Neither is evil nor unfit. We teach our children to respect others' opinions, and to keep an open mind and not to call people names. During an election year, is it okay for all our civility to go out the window? I'm just asking.
There. I said my piece and felt justified in what I had typed. My finger hit enter. There was no taking back my thoughts. I have never enjoyed talking politics but this time I could not remain mute. Campaigns can be so brutal that civil wars develop within families and co-workers, and the best of friends.
Even worse, the world watches our negative political ads and half-truths, taken out of context as we criticize both presidential candidates. If we want our government to appear strong yet reasonable before the world, we are not making the grade. Our current campaign deserves a D for disagreeable and disappointing.
Soon after my post appeared, I began getting Likes and Comments from my Facebook friends. "Well said," "I think you've got it," and You go girl," were only a few of the positive affirmations that I received. Perhaps the grade of D could become a C for community and communication. Or maybe for civility.