Tag Archives: elections

Forgiveness is Required

From the Wikipedia entry for “forgiveness”:

Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, forswears recompense from or punishment of the offender, however legally or morally justified it might be, and with an increased ability to wish the offender well. Forgiveness is different from condoning, excusing, forgetting, pardoning, and reconciliation.

I’m writing this post exactly one week before the 2018 mid-term elections in the United States. Yesterday I sent in an absentee ballot and I’m relieved to have done so because I’m already exhausted with this election and I want to stop thinking about it. I’m also aware that my country is experiencing an important moment in its relatively short history. It’s not as momentous as many others – anyone who compares it the periods of time surrounding the Civil War, Reconstruction, WWI, the Great Depression, WWII, Vietnam or the Civil Rights Movement needs to find themselves a serious dose of perspective – but it is an important point in time for this country.

Why? Because we have a set of elected officials who are as divided, inept and cynical as any we’ve had in recent history. They are headlined – notice I didn’t say led – by an absurdly narcissistic opportunist the likes of which we haven’t seen since at least the Nixon administration over 40 years ago. I don’t know any of them personally, so I can’t speak to their personal lives, but in their jobs, they are all guilty of ineptitude at best and criminal negligence or corruption at worst. And yes, we chose them.

So what do we do about it? Obviously, we can fire them by voting them out, but would that solve the problem? Even if we elected an entirely new stable of congresscritters and a new president, our newly elected officials would inherit a populace that has just been subjected to extreme abuse. Abuse of our trust, abuse of our community, abuse of our time and treasure. Why should we believe any of the newly elected officials would be any better? Why should we trust anyone to lead us to be a better society? And what about the people who got us here – both the people who were elected and the members of the electorate who embraced and promoted their divisiveness – what should we do about them?

My first step will be to forgive all those who abused our trust, and that includes President Trump, and to forgive those who I might believe have embraced an ideology that offends me and hurts others. Until I forgive them, they own me and more importantly, they prevent me from moving on to more productive endeavors. For our elected officials that doesn’t mean that if they broke the law they shouldn’t be punished, or if they worked against the greater good of the country they shouldn’t lose the election. For those fellow citizens who spew vile and hateful comments towards those they perceive as “others”, it doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be dismissed and ignored by those whom they’ve verbally abused, or escape legal consequences if they’ve threatened or actually physically harmed others.

What it means is that once I’ve done what I can do – voted against those elected officials I think have harmed our country, tried to share my point of view with those who might value it, tried to defend those who have been attacked, and tried to refrain from sinking into a tit-for-tat argument with those whom I disagree – that I give myself the gift of forgiving those who I feel have harmed/insulted/abused me or my fellow countrymen. That I release them to the dustbin of history and wish them well with the rest of their lives so that I can go on living mine in a way that, hopefully, leaves my little part of the country better than I found it.

Next Tuesday, once all of the election results have been tabulated, no matter who wins the only way I will have lost is if I haven’t found my way to forgiveness and that is completely within my control. That thought alone gives me a sense of peace I haven’t felt in a long while.

Red Reality

Here in the United States our Republican friends woke up in a jubilant mood today after handing the Democrats their asses in yesterday’s election. Congrats to them, but here are a few thoughts about the state of American politics as we move forward:

  • If the Democrats have an ounce of sense, definitely not a given, they already have their campaign approach for 2016. Here it is: “The last three times the Republicans held both houses of Congress and the Presidency were the ’20s, a two year stretch in the ’50s and a couple of terms in the ’00s. Two of those three time periods ended in economic catastrophe for the country so it would be beneficial for the country if we didn’t give the folks in Red another chance to run is into the ditch.”
  • It will be interesting to see how the Senate functions now that the Republicans no longer have Harry Reid to kick around. They were quite good at obstructing, but can they lead? We’ll soon find out.
  • If you want a sneak peak into how the Republicans might behave in Washington the next couple of years just take a look at how the NC Republicans have behaved the last couple of years. Fissures in the party, particularly between social and business conservatives, will likely reveal themselves at some point next year.
  • Last and biggest point – this election has only reinforced my belief that we truly could benefit from a legitimate third party in this country. By introducing a third major player to the political mix we’d finally have a mechanism to force our leaders into actual policy making. Why? Because if a third party has enough votes then either of the other parties has to negotiate with them to get anything done. You could argue that the same should happen in the two-party system, but as we’ve seen that’s not the case because the minority party can be intransigent since there’s no alternative for the majority, or the majority can steamroll the minority if they have the votes. With a third party the dynamic shifts; no party can take their position for granted and they are pretty much forced to negotiate to get their policies through.

Yep, I’m still a pie-eyed optimist.

Credit Where Credit is Due

Remember "It's the economy stupid?" The first President Bush certainly does, because that phrase famously summed up the soon-to-be President Clinton's campaign focus in beating him. Here's the thing – Clinton ended up getting too much credit for the economic recovery that occurred during his first term, and Bush-the-first didn't get enough credit for making the tough and politically disastrous policy decisions that kick started the recovery in the first place.

Why bring that up now? Because it's interesting to see how President Obama is blamed for things that he literally has no control over, like high gas prices, but gets no credit for things he had a direct hand in, like an improving economy. He is also being criticized for budget deficits that were largely made necessary by the policy decisions of his predecessor, President Bush-the-second. Could Obama have made policy choices that kept the deficit from growing as much as it did in his first term? Sure, but many economists think that would have been much worse for the economic recovery we're seeing. In fact some argue that his policies weren't aggressive enough – that larger short-term deficits might have led to a faster, steeper economic recovery. 

What further complicates the issue in this election cycle is that President Obama came into office as the US economy was in an unprecedented-in-our-lifetime freefall. In the same way that it's difficult to prove a negative, it's also difficult for a sitting President prove that the economy could have been in worse shape if his policies had been different. Quite frankly it's easier for a challenger to say that things could/should have been much better and that it's the President's fault that they aren't; he literally doesn't have to prove it since it's a matter of opinion.  That's how Clinton took out Bush Sr. and that's how Romney is trying to take out Obama. 

It remains to be seen if the recent economic improvement will be enough to convince voters that Obama is worth keeping around. If it's not, Romney will inheret a growing economy and unless he really screws up he'll be given far more credit for it than he deserves.

You Know You’ve Ticked Them Off When…

You know you've ticked off the voting public when two candidates for village council seats win via write-in and the mayor almost loses to a write-in.  Voters in Clemmons were sufficiently teed off at some of the candidates on the ballot (it had to do with a bond referendum and what appears to be a rift between a "new guard" and an "old guard") that they voted in two people who weren't even on the ballot, and narrowly missed voting out the incumbent mayor with a write-in campaign.  That's what I'd call a motivated voting populace.

Over in Lewisville things were much more sedate. I had the pleasure of serving on the Planning Board with two of the town council's newcomers, Sandy Mock, who garnered the most votes and Ed Smith who wasn't far behind in the vote count.  I think they'll do a great job for the town.