Election Sadness

This election, more than any other Presidential cycle in recent memory (although, admittedly, my memory might not be as good as it once was) is just making me sad. Sad. Hopeless. Fearful. And it has zero to do with any of the candidates running. It has everything to do with every day citizens.

We seem to be a country more divided than ever. Not just along party lines. Now there’s sub-categories and sub sub- categories. Racial. Economic. Gender. And more. I feel like I’m living in some version of the Twilight Zone where the sun rises in the west and the skies are yellow instead of blue.

I have seen friendships lost. Family turning on each other. Total strangers behaving badly towards each other. Each side digging in their heels, asserting not only how right they are, but how wrong the other side is. There is no compromise. There is no listening. There is only “I’m right and you’re so wrong that you shouldn’t be in my sight cuz you’re triggering me.”

::sidenote:: “Triggering.” Seriously? Seriously?!

Anyway, I was discussing my growing depression over seeing these displays of hatred toward each other, and I was reminded of a scenario that happened a few years ago. And I fear, I truly fear it is worse this time around.

In my small hometown, we had a school levy a few years ago. The economy was horrible. The school district was asking for more money, while cutting classes, bussing and staff to bare bones in an effort to demonstrate how dire the situation was. On one side, there were those who felt the district was not spending the money wisely. Spend with the students first and foremost. That’s what a school system is supposed to do. One the other side, they felt that cuts from state and federal funding, plus raises and healthcare concerns were the problem.

If you were not for the levy, you were labeled “anti-teacher” and you obviously hate them and the schools. If you were for the levy, you weren’t for the children or the seniors on fixed incomes who were barely holding on because they weren’t getting increases. If you were against the levy, the friends and family who worked for the district would no longer speak to you, defriend you on Facebook and/or Twitter, and suddenly wouldn’t return phone calls. If you were for the levy, you simply couldn’t wrap your head around how anyone could be against it. How? Why? It’s common decency.

As neighbor turned against neighbor, friend against friend, it escalated to threats of violence. I know, because I was on the receiving end of such a threat. Yard signs were stolen and destroyed. Police had to be called over things left on front porches and acts vandalism.

What does this sound like? It sounds like our little school district “levy war” as it was referred to has now exploded over the entire country. Yard signs are stolen. Vandalism and physical violence. Neither side listening. Or they’re listening just to retort. They aren’t hearing. But such is American politics, I suppose. We are a country made up of such vast backgrounds, each of us seeing through our own lenses. It makes it difficult if not impossible sometimes to see it through another lens.

I have my own opinions, based on my life. No one else’s. I can honestly say, I have not only evolved on some of my opinions based on level headed, non-screaming, productive dialogue, but I hope I have been able to do the same. From the displays I’ve seen, not everyone is willing to do that. That makes me sad. I hate seeing people lose friends, not talk to a relative, retreat to listening to msnbc or Alex Jones as their only source of information.

I’m open to dialogue. No name calling. No straw man argument. Just honest dialogue.