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?