I don’t think I’ve posted a single thing about this election for the last six months. I’ve sat by and watched a whole bunch of posts come from both sides, and I’ve digested much of it. Regardless of the outcome tonight (or whenever this thing is figured out), I’ve decided I’d like to say a few things.
This has sucked. I think I watched all three debates in 2012. I watched about 15 minutes’ worth this fall. It angers me too much.
I can’t believe how judgmental so many people have been based on which side one supports. If you’re voting for Donald Trump, you must be a bigot. If you’re voting for Hillary Clinton, you must be a liar. It’s completely asinine.
I’ve been particularly curious and confused about how much of this labeling seems to come from the blue side, which has always seemed to me on the surface to be very much against judging others. You know, some folks will remind you it’s not right to judge somebody by his or her skin color, sexuality or gender — agreed — but apparently it’s OK to make a negative judgment against somebody based on nothing more than presidential preference. Perplexing.
Speaking of a presidential preference, we all have different reasons for picking someone. We don’t all have the same priorities we’d like to see a president stand for above others. Don’t tell me I have to value social issues above everything, and I won’t tell you that you have to value fiscal issues above everything. We all arrive at our priorities differently.
As for me, I usually pick my candidate based on who’s going to give away the least amount of “free stuff” — I use that semi-sarcastically, because nothing’s really free — to people at the expense of hard workers. I don’t like the way government benefits often end up being used as permanent crutches rather than temporary pick-me-ups. Have you ever noticed signs that advise folks to not feed wild animals? It’s because they’ll become dependent on handouts and stop fending for themselves.
I also don’t understand why my generation (and the one that follows) feels a false sense of entitlement that college should be paid for them. (I could go into a longer aside about my relationships with many who have been very successful without college, or how there’s an enormous skills gap that grows with the you-have-to-go-to-college myth, but I’ll digress for now.) I knew what I was getting in for, planned accordingly and cleaned out my debt ahead of schedule. I’m not bragging, but it’s not difficult.
I’m in the media business. At times during this election, I’ve been ashamed to be in the industry. I don’t want to portray too much of an insider’s take, but I think a lot of the national media’s news judgment — basically, what the higher-ups deem to be the stories worth the most attention — has been sketchy and occasionally biased. But folks not in the industry need to understand that most journalists — those are the people writing and reporting the facts, not the blowhards yelling all their hot takes and one-sided opinions — are doing a good job.
Facts are facts. Opinions are opinions. Somewhere along the line, the line that separates them became very blurry. It’s too bad that the national media has lost a lot of the public’s trust — it’s definitely not the media that Walter Cronkite helped build — but they’ve made their own bed to a large degree. Consumers haven’t helped themselves, either. It’s fascinating to see all the Facebook posts that come from ridiculous, clearly biased sources, and yet folks treat them as gospel. People have lost their abilities to grasp the context of what they consume.
I’ve heard that there’s some notion that white people need to recognize a perceived white privilege. Am I privileged? Of course. I’m privileged that my great-grandparents immigrated and decided to settle in small-town America, where you work to build your own character to keep up with your last name. I’m privileged that my grandparents and parents worked hard to build homes and provide for their kids. I’m privileged that I’ve had two parents who’ve stopped at nothing to give my brothers and me a chance at successful lives. And I’m privileged that I went to public high school, learned from terrific teachers and had as many opportunities as I wanted to get ahead of the game.
I wish everyone could have the privilege of two great parents (or, at the very least, parental figures), but sadly that’s not always the case anymore. I always wonder what kind of effect its decline is having on our society.
Finally, there aren’t enough people up for civil discussions these days. People want to dismiss Trump’s campaign for all sorts of reasons, but they don’t want to recognize the conditions that have allowed him to reach the verge of the presidency. The same goes with people dismissing Clinton’s campaign for being criminally corrupt while not looking at why she has so much support.
If a topic is broached in a respectful manner, I’ll discuss anything. It’s disappointing that we have so many racists and sexists still out there, but it’s just as disappointing that others claiming to stand on moral high ground sling around “racist” and “bigot” just because someone disagrees with his or her opinion. That creates just as much of a counterproductive divide as does being prejudiced itself.
I know I can’t relate to a black man who gets pulled over for no reason, but I can listen to him. I know I won’t agree with a lot of folks on gun control, but we can talk. I like learning why people think the way they do, because it usually sheds light upon my own thoughts. Disagreements don’t have to be disrespectful. Unfortunately, they usually are on Facebook, so this post will probably be one-and-done for me.
If you made it to the end of this, God bless and don’t fill in the wrong bubble today.