Election 2010

By the time this article takes to light, the 2010 elections will have come and gone. It doesn’t always help to speculate about the future, but I’ll wager to future-me that the Republican party will retake Congress, and that a handful of Tea Party candidates will be represented among the winners. Many people would love to claim that this will cause the end of days, or that it will be the death-knell for the Republican party as it submits to the more radical newcomers, or that the retake of Congress by the Right will kill Democratic initiatives, or that it will even end the Democratic party.

Now, most of this seems fairly farfetched. In all likelihood, the majority of voters to the Right will still subscribe to their GOP beliefs as the Tea Party becomes increasingly extreme. The Democrats, with executive control, will still function, although projects will be slowed. Yet Congress was designed to be slow, as frustrating as it may be, and some of the most productive periods in American politics have been during divided control – Democrats in the White House and Republicans up on Capitol Hill. And since I’m speculating anyway, I’ll put my money on zombies causing the apocalypse, since it seems the fashionable choice. I highly doubt reduced spending will kill us all.

As I write this article to future-readers, I’ve already filled out my absentee-voter form and done all that I feel necessary in the voting process. To me, this doesn’t mean trying to constantly engage passersby in combat over political ideals. It means informing myself on the candidates, trying to determine who will best do the job, not just which city council candidate has the best name. (Sorry, Clint Hoopaw.)

So, future-reader (who will be present-reader when this comes out. Sorry, time-travel’s confusing), what have you taken from election 2010? Did you hope to march with Glenn Beck on Washington? Or with Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert in their Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear? Or did you just hope once again that the political ads would go away? In the post-election season, as coverage will surely fly like wildfire about the changing of the electoral guard, take a minute to look at the madness we go through every two years now – the nonstop political din. In this information age, we feel that it is necessary to subject every minor detail to public critique, to bring up everything a candidate has said on any topic (I’m increasingly nervous that I’ll be misquoted from something I said in kindergarten), and to ruthlessly attack candidates of every stripe.

I cannot help but wonder about the past. Has the election process always been this savage? What kind of nasty things were said about George Washington or Abraham Lincoln? If we had known about FDR’s polio, I hate to think how violently his campaign would have been torpedoed. Even Ronald Reagan, with his past as both an actor and a Democrat, would face harsh words and accusations.

I don’t know if previous elections have been as acidic, but I do know that at this rate they aren’t getting any better, and that scares me. After every election in recent memory, the United States has refused to fall apart. And I don’t think it will anytime soon. Instead, I think it’s time that we citizens wise up and declare that for the good of our country (and our nerves) that we take a step back from the attacks and work towards true intellectual debate. We must leave fear-mongering a thing of the past. Scholars are already claiming that we might be the next greatest generation. We don’t need them to tell us that – simply saying this does not make it so, and we are increasingly gaining influence as we come of age. Starting today, future-reader, use that influence to reintroduce balance and a level head to politics. Past-me has thanked you already

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