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For many, elections are a time to argue

Monday, November 3, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CST

When we wake up Wednesday morning, we will have chosen a new president of the United States. And boy, will some of us be glad that it's all over.

The right to vote is the centerpiece of our democracy, but elections have become so ugly with partisanship that many Americans dread the contests. Sadly, there are too many who would vote for Adolf Hitler if he was running on their party's ticket. And as we have seen happen time after time, as the leaders of these parties get nastier, their fans follow closely behind.

If we could witness intelligent discussions of the issues that would be one thing, but too often, it boils down to the nominees and their surrogates bashing one anothers' personalities. It doesn't take long in these campaigns to have everybody at one anothers' throats. It's too bad that we don't have the kind of political parties that spend time educating the population on civics.

Unfortunately, too many of the voters have become as vicious as those running for office. One of the things I wish we could do between elections is to try to clarify in the minds of some individuals why the country's founders chose to separate church and state. The past eight years of what many believe to be the two worst presidential terms in American history were made possible to some degree by people who voted for a couple of their religious convictions.

And I'm sure many voted the same way this time around. I know so many genuinely decent people who will vote for anyone who opposes abortion and gay marriages. That these candidates could be the very embodiment of all things evil doesn't matter the slightest, as long as they are against those two things. It should be obvious to these people that you can't run a government like it's a church. I don't think these folks realize what living in a theocracy would be like. They imagine that the country would be governed based only on the theology on which they agree. It never occurs to them that, considering our differing religious beliefs, it could be one of which they oppose.

Would you like to be a Catholic living under a Protestant theocracy or vice versa? There apparently is no way to convince these individuals that abortion and gay marriage are not ballot issues that we vote on in every election. I can understand, sometimes, why my Buddhist friend claims that the problem she has with Christians is that they covet everybody's soul.

Another group of election killers are the super patriots. These are the people who never stop talking about patriotism but have never seen a homeless veteran that they couldn't ignore. They never concern themselves with questions about health care or other services for veterans. Their total contribution to love of country consists of spouting slogans and flying flags. The super patriots don't seem to understand that people practice patriotism in many ways. Some people make regular contributions to blood banks, to keep blood supplies available, which, as far as I'm concerned, is a lot more important than wearing a flag pin on your lapel.

Then there are the folks who turn every conversation into a political debate. No matter what the subject of the discussion is, they manage to introduce politics into it. They are determined to influence your vote. They bore you to death with their party line. These individuals never have an original thought in their heads and only repeat whatever their favorite candidate said last. These people can't wait for an election to occur, just because it offers them another occasion to fight with someone else.

Another group that helps to make elections distasteful are those who are willing to go along with anyone's opinion, just for the ride. They don't read anything informative, so they tend to believe what other people are saying no matter how ridiculous it may be. Voting, as far as they are concerned, is just like going to the movies or attending a basketball game. They just want to be involved in the action, whatever it is. Some state officials who are responsible for making sure that elections run smoothly are another set of people who seem to do nothing between elections to get their houses in order to see that they have enough correct forms and operating equipment to get through the next election.

The mess made in Florida in the 2000 election, which wound up having to be decided in the U.S. Supreme Court, should have been enough to put every election official on notice. To this day, there are some people who still question the results of that election. Anything that even appears to look like an effort to keep people from exercising their right to vote is totally unacceptable.

And lastly, do you think we could just put all this behind us and focus on the economic problems that are facing so many families in our communities? What can we do to help those who are losing their homes or worrying themselves sick about losing their retirement funds?

Maybe just creating a warm comfortable listening post where people can pour out their troubles can ease the burden for a little while.

Now that the election is over, can we all be friends again?

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or e-mailing her at nolen@iland.net.


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