I’ve been off the grid for the past three weeks and have counted myself lucky not to have the daily influx of political emails, telephone solicitors, news stories, sound bites and outlandish headlines beating me down. Coming back home, my reprieve from death by politics was rescinded and I find myself quickly becoming overwhelmed.
I am a political person by my nature. When most second- graders were worried about recess, I was worried about the electoral college and what would happen if they all suddenly went rogue. Yes, this is a conversation I had with my parents. In fourth grade, when girls were worried about whose leather bracelet they would wear, I was worried about Jimmy Carter seeming like a yahoo living in the White House. History has proven that I was right to worry about that.
All that being said, most of the shine of the political process has worn off for me. I now no longer yearn to watch the political conventions (and, yes, even as a child, I watched every minute.) I purposefully make plans so that I won’t have to watch the debates. Why? Because I want someone who knows what they are talking about to make a substantive point, not just heckle their opponents. If our political process is going to continue to sink into these low depths, then let’s do it right. If we want a political process that is fraught with name-calling and potential fisticuffs, then let’s take a page from the English and Irish parliaments.
Instead of our current crop of presidential hopefuls throwing weak insults at each other, let’s let them go at it old school like they do in England. You insult my party, you will pay. You insult my platform, prepare to be taken down. If candidates see that there is a real consequence to their petulance, perhaps they won’t be so quick to act like fourth graders, and maybe they will up their game and talk about real issues, offer real solutions and seek to find a middle ground that we can all live with.
I don’t know that a battle royal, with the last man (or woman) standing is the answer to our political problems, but I do know that the childish, juvenile campaigns that are in full swing are not the answer. I do know that simply belittling another candidate’s suggestions without offering your own is not the answer. To quote the movie the The American President: “For the last couple of months, it has been suggested that being President of this country was, to a certain extent, about character. I can tell you without hesitation: Being President of this country is entirely about character… America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ‘cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say ‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. We have serious problems to solve, and we need serious people to solve them. And whatever your particular problem is, I promise you, (fill in the name of any candidate currently running) is not the least bit interested in solving it. He is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who’s to blame for it.’”
The world is scary enough. I don’t need a President who makes me fearful, I need a President who has answers. One who can clearly articulate the problems facing our country, give me his solutions and then stand by what he says.
Again from The American President, “People want leadership, Mr. President, and in the absence of genuine leadership, they’ll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone. They want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage, and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.”
I think we are all tired of drinking sand. Which candidate will step up to the plate with a tall drink of water? I’m waiting.