Tempering Politics

If there's one thing I've learned from this, my first real foray into American politics in this campaign year, it is how truly polarizing the election process can be. When I wrote my first-ever political post back in early January, I was encouraged by the healthy, robust dialogue that emerged on this site. Through the course of 55 comments (the most I've ever racked up on one post), we asked questions, shared thoughts and impressions, and openly acknowledged how we'd historically involved ourselves in these dealings. It was honest, and it was respectful, and I felt proud to name myself a member of this thoughtful, authentic community.

But the more involved I've become in this election season, the more I've seen the other side that can creep out. Feelings can run high, and feelings can get hurt. In the heartfelt zeal that grows as we align ourselves on either side of the fence, we see how easy it is to run roughshod over someone else. We forget that the freedom we personally enjoy to think through the issues, apprehend and evaluate the candidates, and integrate the different policies with our faith convictions . . . is the same freedom other people enjoy to form a different opinion and cast a different vote.

I am all too familiar with how easily impassioned we can become for a cause we believe in, because I experience that passion myself. Sometimes it keeps me up at night. Sometimes it addicts me to the newsfeeds and video clips. Sometimes it makes me want to scream. And sometimes, honestly, it depresses me.

But at this point, I've come to believe that the remaining 7 weeks are not meant to benefit those of us who've already decided how we will vote on November 4. I don't believe there is one ardent McCain-Palin fan who will cross to the other side in the remaining weeks. I don't believe one Obama-Biden supporter will ever reconsider the way they've chosen to cast their vote. No. These 7 weeks are meant for the undecided, for those still weighing their options and still determining what factors are indeed most important to them.

I try to remember this when the chaos of the crazy-making media get me all stirred up, and when I encounter people I care about who have chosen a different vote to cast than I have. I try to remember that it's not my job to convince someone else my way, and it's certainly not my job to castigate, insult, or inflame another human being. Rather, it's to respect, and to let go.


And then to watch a video like this one, which reminds me how great, wide, and diverse is this country, and how much more united we are than divided. (Warning: this is a video produced by the Obama campaign.)