It's election season. Even if people that "into" the candidates or the issues, they realize an election is coming because the level of rhetoric, polarizing statements, and labelling is in full swing! Of course, we are used to big "D" Democrats and big "R" Republicans going after each other, as well as those that call themselves Liberals, Libertarians, 1-percenters, Tea Party members, and conservatives speaking out. But when is enough enough?
I understand politics, and was involved in my first political campaign back in the 1960's. But, I have witnessed a tremendous change. There was a time when most candidates were within 5-10% of the political middle, either to the right or to the left. Since most people would privately consider themselves moderates, that made some sense. It also made for an atmosphere where there was some room for political compromise, and some things got done. Especially in times of either international or domestic crisis, these politicians came together for the overall good of the country, and, at least, on a temporary basis, helped to unite the country. Don't get me wrong – people still disagreed – there just seemed to far more civility to the conversation. The last several years have brought about the most polarization in my lifetime. And, as a result, there has been far more political stagnation than ever before.
Everything political today seems to be about the label. We hear people banter around the words liberal and conservative as if they were some dreaded disease or social malady. And, what's even stranger is quite often those labelling themselves as Conservative are not so on fiscal issues (such as balancing budgets in a fiscally sane manner), and those claiming to be Liberal are not consistent in their approaches towards social or economic issues. Either way, however, merely labelling something doesn't make it so, and even then, doesn't make it bad. i recently used the word "activist" to describe people who took a stand and came out regarding the Main Street issue. Much to my surprise and chagrin, several people felt that activist was some sort of derogatory label, when it actually is simply a differentiation between the few that get involved and the vast majority that often act apathetically. So, what does this all mean?
Can't we all just try to get along? Can't we agree to disagree? Can't we seek common ground for the overall good? Can we stop using labels?
I hope so. When good people decide to try to agree, without blaming others and without anger, far more gets accomplished. It may be less entertaining, but it's generally far more productive.