Now that a little time has passed since our midterm election, folks have had time to reflect. Many of those people are happy at this point. There are also a lot of people who are still disappointed that things didn’t go better (especially in Kansas). I have been bothered by some of the reaction I’ve seen though. Like in 2012, a lot of it has been, for lack of a better term, ugly. And that’s not something restricted to one group or another. People from both sides of the aisle have been less than pleasant, when the better reaction should be one of a conciliatory nature, win or lose.
To the Republicans
You deserve a congratulations, regardless of how likely the outcome was from the start. When America is uncomfortable, especially during a midterm election, you tend to shine. That’s something to be respected (you’re the comfortable “safe space” of society). But, with that comes an enormous responsibility. The result of which is that you have the power to drive a lot of policy, provided you can bowl over the president on it. Image sucks like that, because that’s a point that the Democrats get right, the next two years are going to reflect directly on You, even if things may or may not be your fault.
There’s a very important message you need to remember though. You might belong to a party, but you represent The People. And The People are composed of more than just your party. The districts you represent may or may not be overwhelmingly conservative or liberal, but you owe it to the people you disagree with to at least hear them out, because the problems and challenges they face are real to them, even if you don’t understand or agree. And being compassionate to your opposition is the surest way to re-election. Being compassionate and willing to talk to you detractors is NOT a weakness, despite what the extreme end of the spectrum would have you believe.
And most importantly, above all, do not be sore winners in this. Prove the Democrats wrong. Be successful, but do it with a side of humbleness. Because real leaders don’t need to rub it people’s faces. Your actions (or more specifically the results of your actions) should speak for themselves. If they don’t, that’s your sword to fall on.
To the Democrats
Guys, what are you complaining about? It’s not as if you’re shut out of Congress or something. We give a lot of weight to being the majority, but not being the majority doesn’t make you powerless. And feeling like you are is the surest way to a self-fulfilling prophecy. So chill. As many of you point out, should the Republicans be really bad at what they do, then that only ends well for you. So here’s the deal, buck up. Meet the Republicans at the table, just like you wanted them to do for you. Hell, you can’t really do much worse, because let’s not forget, you were partly responsible for the lowest approval ratings in congressional history.
Yeah, sure, if things go well, the Republicans are going to get to take credit for it. So that means you either get to be part of that, or not. And if they do well, you do well, and We do well. And isn’t that the whole point? The worst thing that can happen is that they suck, and that gives you empirical evidence for use in future debates over which policy will/should win out (granted, reality is much more fluid than that, but more evidence is always better than less). On the flip side, you shouldn’t be afraid to acknowledge success. It’s entirely possible that they’ll push through legislation that works. That’s something to celebrate, not criticize. Learn from it. Build on it. And beyond everything else, don’t be sore losers.
Clocks keep turning, the sun keeps rising, and life goes on. The most import thing to keep in mind is that we don’t lose sight of what matters the most, which is to focus on the fundamentals of society and government. Spend less, do less, value The People over everything else. Don’t be dicks to each other. In fact, stop for one bloody second to realize that other people have problems that you don’t, and might not fully understand. Life is hard, it’s complex, and the fact that you might disagree ideologically with your neighbor shouldn’t devalue how they feel about something.
Like many of you, I’m on Facebook. and frankly, throughout the election I’ve seen more than enough posts that boil down to “suck it libtards” and “DIAF neocons I hope your fall on your face” posts that it’s clear one of the biggest problems isn’t even partisan politics, but Us. How do comments like that help? How does it elevate and improve the conversation? Simple: it doesn’t. Those are comments for the ignorant. Guys, we’re a pretty big fucking country. Better than three-hundred-nineteen-million at this point. The bigger we get, the grayer we should get, not the more black and white. Because with that many people, there’s so much variation in ideology and principle, the idea that we could settle on one end of the spectrum is absolutely absurd. Absurd and irrational.
The thing that made America so great, whether it’s historically accurate, or philosophically accurate, is that we managed to balance these things and respect each other. This idea that we should find pleasure in crushing the opposition is relatively new, and utterly deconstructive. We aren’t each others’ enemies. We’re Americans. We’re Americans that just happen to differ in philosophy occasionally. We all respect freedom, respect choice, and respect the pursuit of happiness. If your philosophy impedes another citizen’s pursuit of happiness, that should be the first sign that you are wrong.
Take ten bloody seconds and consider when you post. I don’t care if it’s a comment here, on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, or wherever. Consider your tone. Are you being civil? Are you being rational? Are you fighting over who’s the best, or who’s better than what we have now? These are all important considerations. When it comes to culture, society, and government, the best move is never the one that’s the best. It’s only ever the one that makes us better than we were, and if you’re willing to criticize someone for fighting to make us better than what we were, then I don’t know what to do with you.
Or you can just be that guy that’s like “suck it libs.” If you’re that guy, I feel sorry for you, because straight up, dude, that’s not something to be proud of.
(Photo Credit: CC by 2.0 Theresa Thompson)