I'm a political junkie. I love the intricacies of political campaigns and debates and surveys and polls and the whole nine yards. But November is still eight months away and I am already very weary of this round's version of the presidential campaign season. I am tired out by all the, let's be frank here, all the nonsense. I am tired of the name-calling, the snarky remarks, the thoughtless words, the knee-jerk reactions, the defensiveness, the hate speech . . . and I'm tried of folks saying, "Well, that's politics for you!"
I'm a trained church historian, and my specialty is the history of the United States. Over the last two or three years I've been reading biographies of all our presidents in chronological order. And yes, things have often been rough and tumble in the past. There have been dirty tricks, and manipulation, and lies. Some years worse than others. And yes, I suppose all of that is often part of politics. But it is not the whole of it.
Politics at its best involves the honest exchange of ideas. Politics at its best is making space for opposing points of view. Politics at its best offers up concrete proposals to commonly held problems. Politics at its best takes full advantage of our diversity, recognizing that different perspectives, different backgrounds, different lifestyles, can lead to solutions none of us would have ever thought of on our own. Politics at its best says ultimately the good of the whole is greater than the need of any single individual--while preserving the rights of each individual.
I love good politics. Unfortunately we're just not seeing a lot of that this year. And historically, bad politics lead to bad times for the nation. But we the people can change it if we say no to the nonsense. If we stand up and make it clear we want an honest, fair, non-accusatory exchange of ideas, of hopes and dreams, we will receive it. For politicians, by their very nature, do respond to public opinion.
Are we getting what we deserve right now? I don't know. But if we are, my prayer is simple: God save us from ourselves!