With the dust settled on Tuesday’s election, the campaigning has finally — mercifully — ended. Now the truly hard part begins, actually governing. But it’s hard to do that when politicians treat their opponents like supervillians instead of colleagues.
It’s time to put the vitriol away and stop demonizing those we disagree with. In fact, it’s long past time for that, but every election allows a fresh chance to put balm on the wound.
Disagreement is a healthy part of democracy. However, refusal to ever compromise — on anything, for any reason — is not. Somehow, compromise has become a dirty word in politics, an example of weakness, and it shouldn’t be. Especially on the national stage, politics has become a black or white, all-or-nothing game you either win or lose with nothing in-between. Any action that might move the needle a little but fails to reach a party or politician’s ultimate ideological goal isn’t deemed a positive step but a complete failure.
This toxic atmosphere becomes more pronounced — and easier to maintain — when those who disagree are demonized and no longer seem as people but opponents. People can and should have honest disagreements with each other, but we should keep in mind those with whom we disagree are not attempting to destroy the country, state or city for some nefarious plot or personal gain. The campaign ads that flooded our airwaves for weeks play to this lowest common denominator and drag us all down. (Obviously every candidate in every race, especially locally, didn’t go this route, but the problem persists).
A call for civility, from all sides, would go a long way. It’s a pipe dream, but elections are supposed to be about the American dream, so we’ll hold out hope that, in the calm after the storm, we can begin to move forward. At least until the first presidential candidate declares and the cycle begins again.