I have no recollection of my mother and father discussing politics except for the one-liner my father would trot out each presidential election year. He would say mom cancelled out his vote. You see, he would vote Republican, and she would vote Democrat. He would joke they could save the trip to the polling place, as soon as they were done choosing, one ballot negated the other.
Still they voted in every election.
The only time Mom voted as a Republican was when she voted in a primary against Richard Nixon who she "just did not want to be president." When Hubert Humphrey died, my father mourned. Even though my dad never voted for him, he had great respect for the man. I remember them both reading Harry Truman's autobiography.
My father and mother respected people in public service, even when they didn't agree with their politics. Perhaps around others my dad was more vehement, but he never assaulted the politicians' character that I recall.
I endeavor to do the same.
This week, the last big debate was aired. I did not watch it. I am not on the fence, I know for whom I will vote. I would tag these moderated exchanges as informational programs for those who are undecided. However, I understand folks watch them for all sorts of reasons. I understand there are people who study the science of politics. What I don't understand or appreciate are those who are steadfast in their opinion of their candidate yet, or maybe because of this passion, are driven to watch with the goal of dissecting behaviors exhibited and words chosen to use to mock the opponent. That is not political commentary, that is just unkind and disrespectful.
In overheard conversations, tweets, facebook status updates, and on blogs, I've read all sorts of cruel comments about the men themselves. I don't mean criticisms of their stands, I mean criticism of the way they stand, look, act, sound. I've read attacks on their character. I've read name calling.
As a nation of media junkies, we claim we hate how the media shrinks speeches into soundbites, yet we create and perpetuate such soundbites--or wordbites--via social media (Big Bird and notebooks come to mind). We claim we hate attack ads, yet we attack. Such behaviors are divisive in ways we cannot measure.
President Obama and Governor Romney are two men of great intelligence and achievement. The pressures they both face are those we cannot imagine. Though guided by advisory panels, when they stand in front of those cameras, they stand alone as they work to encapsulate how they hope to restructure this country in short, timed presentations. They seek to be understood.
Are either one of them all bad? There is no hero, and there is no villain. When Election Day has passed, when Inaugural Day approaches, history will continue to be made no matter which man is chosen. Perhaps if we, the citizens, stand behind our President, pray for our President, and truly are patriotic, there will be more peace among us and commonalities would be valued more than disagreements.