The 2016 presidential race is increasingly toxic — most of us just want this election to be over. I think it’s also safe to say, we don’t really care who wins at this point, which is a sad commentary on the state of politics in the U.S. The question is, how long can we continue like this?
Over the past several months, we Americans have been saturated with the idea that controversy, scandal, blunder, rage and blame are what define this election. One candidate makes a seemingly conventional comment, only to have the other side rage with righteous indignation. That would be fine if they kept all of this in the political arena, but they’re not and we Americans are dragged kicking and screaming into the chaotic fray. And what we have, is a scorched earth policy that widens an already vast divide among the people.
The Divided States of America
Most people I speak to express a grave concern over the direction our nation is headed. Yes, politics has always been a dirty game, but something has changed — there’s been a terrible rift in the harmony of these “united” states of America.
As the two political parties of our country go head-to-head in bitter and vicious battle, they’ve dragged the American people into their fracas and have divided us into an “us vs. them” mentality — I call this the ‘Yankees vs. Mets’ mentality, because everyone declares their favorite team and no one will give an inch or even consider opposing views.
I in order to get elected (and stay in power), our politicians have created an air of contention and disdain; they wrongly believe that they must destroy their opponents, rather than prove their own individual qualifications. Of course, they’re not confident enough to fight their own battles, so they deviously plant seeds of crisis and hysteria — the media nurtures those seeds until they grow into an unwieldy jungle of rage, chaos and hatred, which consumes the American people.
Poisoning the Land
In truth, politics in America has become poisonous and poses a serious threat to the well-being of our nation. As part of their scorched earth strategy, our political leaders divide the people and intentionally create armies of hate on either side of the political spectrum, getting us to fight their battles for them. The end result? Americans are divided and instead of harmony, we have anger, hysteria and a growing disdain for one another.
If we allow our politicians to divide and conquer ‘we the people,’ while they rise to the heights of power, can we really say we’re still the “United” States of America?
What we the people should demand is that our political process be centered around the positive — around strengths, capabilities and a vision and plan for the future. Candidates running for any public office should be focused on what they can and will do for us and not on how terrible the other guy is. And what’s more, we should have a collective expectation that our media does not fan the flames of hatred and disdain — our media must focus on what each candidate can offer us, not on some alleged skeleton in their closet or on perpetuating the heated rhetoric.
Conditioned to see the negative
We Americans are being conditioned to focus on the bad and everything we’re told and shown is dire – “vote for the other guy, and the whole world will blow up…and it will be your fault for voting for him!”
Was it always this way? No. In the years before the internet age, we didn’t spend hours each day focusing on violence, destruction and controversy. Instead, people actually lived their daily lives and were able to center themselves on positive things — family, friends, nature — things that were uplifting and united us.
Lets for a minute imagine a world in which we are not assaulted daily with hysteria, yelling, negative thoughts, ideas and opinions. A world in which we didn’t focus on the mis-steps, scandals and exaggerated controversy, but one in which we focused on the possibilities and hopes for a better future. How much more serene and positive would we be collectively, if we saw the hope and not the manufactured calamity we’re led to believe awaits us in the future?
Despite what our politicians want us to believe, the opposing party is not your enemy. Despite what politicians and the media want us to believe, the sky is not falling. Right now, throughout the world, amazing and beautiful things are happening — children are being born, diseases are being cured, couples are getting married, people are laughing, flowers are blooming, birds are singing…in short, love, care, kindness and hope are taking place right this very minute.
As Thomas Jefferson famously said: “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”
I’m no Pollyanna
The world is not perfect and we have our challenges. But challenges are not all that we have.
If our political leaders are not able to lead by the right example, why should we elect them? If all Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump can do is yell, blame and scare, why are we even entertaining the thought of electing either of them? I mentioned the fact that I’m aware we have ‘challenges’ as a nation — perhaps one of our greatest challenges is having political leaders who fuel the negativity and despair for their own personal gain.
So, what can any of us do?
Like me, you probably see the issue as clear as day, but wonder “well, what can I do about it?” I’m glad you asked.
- Each of us should demand that our politicians stop dividing us; we should tell our elected officials that we will no longer tolerate the divisive tactics they use to get themselves elected.
- Make the commitment to not hate your neighbor simply because they have different political beliefs. Affirm that you won’t allow politicians to divide us or use scare tactics to influence us.
- We should collectively demand that our politicians tell us why he/she should be elected, and not why the other candidate should not.
- Tune out the negativity. If the media / pop-culture establishment sees they no longer have an audience for their violent and dark messages, you can believe they’ll quickly change. Make the conscious decision to avoid the gossip, scandal, violence and negativity they push on us.
- Don’t believe everything the media tells you. Just because they says something is a scandal or is a major issue, doesn’t necessarily make it true — it’s safe to say that our media has ulterior motives.
- Practice positivity, gratitude and hope…daily! It really does start with us, and if each one of us focuses on the positive, embraces hope and shows gratitude, believe me, it will make a huge difference in this world — a difference for the better.
Of course I realize we can’t avoid world events, which are sometimes just negative by nature, but we don’t have to let it become all-consuming to the point we feel helpless and hopeless. Personally, I blame politicians and the media as the biggest culprits in tearing down positivity — but, perhaps that’s been their plan all along? I don’t intend to let them win…how about you?