Nov 20, 2014

The Election Aftermath Of 2014

The 2014 election cycle is over and the Republican sweep will go into the history books.  How Republicans deal with spoils of victory will be seen in 2015 and beyond.  How those of us not elected to office, or perhaps even on local and state levels, deal with the aftermath of this historic election has also yet to be seen.

In our local little corner of the world, a hint of animosity started in the 2012 election season.  Democrats began to follow the President's lead and blame Republicans for everything.  That mindset rolled over to state levels, county levels and even local county committees.  People who had been friends with Republicans and friends with Democrats began to see the mindset that Republicans were wrong about everything.  Republicans responded in kind and began to point out how Democrats were wrong about everything.  Then the unthinkable started to happen.  Both sides began letting their feelings rise up publicly.

We have a world where 2012, 2013, and 2014 has seen Democrats and Republicans across the nation go from mild disagreements and small jokes about party lines to outright attacks against the opponents religious beliefs, sex, national origin, and even to attacks about the opponents participation in various civic and local events.  With the on-set of social media becoming an easy avenue for release, people in both parties began using phones, computers, and even Internet based televisions to post hateful and often hurtful things about the opponents.  Republicans and Democrats alike fired the shots in public forums, community meetings, and party meetings.  Then something happened in late 2013 that ran full stem into 2014.  The attacks began to target anyone regardless of whether the person was a candidate or not.

Simple rumors such as "Mr. Jones supports that Democrat," started resulting in attacks on Mr. Jones.  Both parties participated and both parties should be ashamed.  As stated before attacks were often vicious and hate-filled.  If someone was a different religion, they were called, "Godless men" or "Godless women".  If someone associated with certain groups, they were said to be "Associating with them."  Things were said like, "I can't believe they would spend time with a Republican," or "Can you believe all the Democrat friends she has?"  As social media continued to grow, these hurtful and vicious attacks began to bleed into everyday society.

People forgot one important thing, in both parties, as these attacks went on daily through the campaign.  First, they forgot that once the election is over, many of these candidates who listened and supported this talk will go away.  They will go back to Washington, or to Little Rock, or back to various offices.  The mailings won't be coming out anymore, the candidates won't be showing up daily, and life will resume....that is, a life will resume where local Democrats and Republicans will once again be going about daily events together.  They will go to the grocery stores, to Wal Marts, to the malls.  They will go to church, civic events, libraries, bookstores, and restaurants.  We will all once again simply be "citizens."  It has not mattered since about midnight on November 4th whether your best friend is a Republican or a Democrat.  It has not mattered whether your pastor voted for a Democrat or a Republican.  It doesn't matter whether the guy who fixes your car is a Democrat who happens to be Baptist, or a Republican who happens to be Lutheran.  None of that matters because the elections are over.  Once again, we will be a simple community of people living in towns, counties, states all across the land.  Nonetheless, I am left to wonder how many of the hurtful, mean, and cold-hearted things that have been said during the election season will linger?   I am left to wonder can we get past a mean-spirited Facebook post, or a Twitter post, or a public statement made at a Democrat or Republican rally?  I am left to wonder, can we all remember that many of the things we complained about regarding our neighbors, our friends, our community members, and even our family members were simply politically motivated?  Can we actually remember that we are all still, and perhaps most importantly, Americans?

Nov 6, 2014

The Awakening of America

President Obama spent most of his presidency in a very comfortable position.  He was surrounded by people who praised him, he had a solid majority in Congress to back him, and it seemed like the bulk of entertainers (because you know their political opinions are important) the media, and even the world thought Obama could do no wrong.  The president was so popular that he even won a Nobel Peace Prize almost before he could sit down in the Oval Office!  On November 4, 2014, that comfortable position got a lot less comfortable.

While he had all the power in Washington, Obama pushed the Affordable Healthcare Act (an oxymoron if ever there was one) into the face of every single American and basically said, "Deal with it."  His supporters rallied behind him when the Supreme Court side-stepped the issue and ruled that "Congress has a right to tax"- a ruling that neither the plaintiff nor the defendant had argued for and both seemed surprised.  He caused the government to shut down and then used his friends in the media to paint a picture that portrayed Republicans as shutting down the government.  The president even pushed at the greatest generation by trying to close the World War II Memorial in Washington - consequently, few noticed that the World War I Memorial was not closed, but then again there were no aged veterans going to that memorial.  Finally, whenever the president did not get his way, he informed everyone that he has a "pen and a phone" and that he will make the things happen that he wants to happen with or without support from Republicans.  The president also spent more time than any of his Democrat predecessors have ever done blaming the previous administration and blaming Republicans - Even Bill Clinton, the golden Democrat "Come Back Kid," only named Republicans in his speeches as "Our opponents," or "They" as he crossed the state of Arkansas hoping his charm and the fact that he stressed, "Vote for the candidate, not against the President" would win voters.  It did not.

In World War II as England clung to life with the threat of a German invasion lingering across the water, America was bombed by the Japanese.  Americans who had been against the war, American media who had stressed it was not our business, and a President who had wondered how to help our allies without American direct involvement woke up.  Both Admiral Yamamoto and Winston Churchill realized that on that day that the sleeping giant, or the American public, had been woke up.  Much like that attach that woke American's up for World War II, the president's actions finally woke up the American population on November 4, 2014.  Americans rolled out in the early vote and the election day vote in record numbers and in record numbers they voted Republican.  States that had not been Republican since Reconstruction once again turned red.  Democrat voters themselves were no longer willing to sit by and be sad and blue, they were now red with anger.  In overwhelming numbers Obama saw states turn red, he saw the House of Representatives go to a solid majority of Republicans (244 to 179) and he saw the Senate turn Republican (52-43).  The message was sent clearly to the doorstep of the White House - Obama's polices, his pen and his phone, would no longer be tolerated by the American people.

Ironically, even as Republicans rejoiced in the opportunity to set the nation on the right path again, Obama's Administration was trying to find a way to put a positive spin on the message sent by Americans.  Today's Texarkana Gazette (November 6, 2014) noted that "Obama vows to 'get job done' with GOP," and that it's "time for us to take care of business."  The president seems suddenly willing to negotiate, work with Congress, and push toward a positive outcome for the American people.  What is truly sad and will linger well into history for this president is the fact that the American people had to wake up and send a clear message to a sitting president who refused to listen to the very people he was elected to serve.  Consequently, while there was some hint of defiance in the president's message, but he did not seem too eager to say he had a pen and a phone anymore.  Well done America....well done.