An election season challenge
After watching a handful of Republican presidential debates in recent weeks and President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 24, it is safe to say that my excitement over the coming presidential election is in full swing.
I enjoy following presidential politics almost as much as I enjoy following my favorite Chicago sports teams. The more I read about the candidates and their platforms, and the more I watch and listen to them on TV, the more excited I get about the culmination of it all on Election Day Nov. 6.
I also enjoy all the conversations I’ll have with friends and acquaintances as we collectively get to know the candidates vying for the privilege to lead our country from the White House. These conversations/debates/arguments are a uniquely American privilege that I truly cherish.
In light of that privilege, I have a challenge I’d like to issue those in the community who share my excitement for this election season. It’s really quite simple: I challenge you to respect your fellow American citizens throughout these coming months until the election. (For extra credit, try respecting your fellow citizens even after the election has come and gone, whomever ends up winning and taking their rightful place in American history.)
When someone says something you don’t agree with, take a moment to consider their position and why they might feel as they do. It probably makes as much sense to them as your position does to you. In that same moment, consider why you feel the way you do. Realizing that everyone has reasons for the way they feel and that everyone is entitled to their opinion is the basis for a healthy dialogue that’s in everyone’s interest.
Debate is good. Blind contempt is bad. We’re lucky as American citizens to be in the position to have such disagreements. When it all comes down to it, America is in good hands no matter what political party holds the White House. Those hands aren’t red or blue – they belong to us, the voters and real rulers of this country. They may not always act like it, but all politicians know their careers are made and broken at the whims of the voters they serve.
That said, another part of my challenge to you has to do with informing yourself this election season. Challenge yourself to think about why you feel the way you do, and seek out information from as many different sources as possible. Read, watch, listen and think every chance you get. Especially the thinking part.
Be skeptical, both of your favored candidate and of the opposition. Don’t take anything a politician says – Republican, Democrat or otherwise – at face value. Look into it for yourself and you might find a whole new level of enjoyment in the presidential race.
It’s been said politics are about pandering to the lowest common denominator. That can only be true if voters allow it to be.
• John Puterbaugh is the managing editor of the Lake County Journal. He can be reached at 847-231-7522 or email@example.com.