Wednesday, November 5, 2014

It's Time for a Little Respect

I don't know about you, but I am pretty happy this election is finally over! We have been inundated by advertising the last several months that was harsh, disrespectful, and at times offensive. While we might want to blame one political action committee or the other for being worse, it seems to me that both major parties are equally culpable. This election seemed to be less about the strengths that a particular candidate would bring to the office and more about the weaknesses of the person they were running against.

Instead of messages about ideas, more often than not the message of these political ads has been, vote for candidate 'X', because the alternative truly is the 'boogeyman'. Unfortunately, the history of political campaigns in this country has long since showed us that this strategy works. I can remember studying the concept of 'mudslinging' when I was a student in high school. In the election of 1796, John Adams proclaimed that Thomas Jefferson's election would result in a civil war and that he was an atheist. Of course, many of have probably seen the very famous Daisy Girl ad, where Lyndon Johnson suggested that the election of Barry Goldwater as president would likely lead to thermonuclear war.

I wonder what our students think of all the negativity in political campaigns. One of our Hudson 'Keys of Success' is to Live with Integrity. Do you think that our students wonder about the integrity of political campaigns? We teach our young people to treat one another with respect. We want our students to be proud of who they are and to act honorably. Embarrassing someone for personal benefit doesn't sound like a very honorable act to me. Distorting the viewpoints of a peer for our own gain does not sound like the act of someone with a lot of integrity. Our district has held anti-bullying campaigns and enacted strict policies for dealing with students who don't show respect for their classmates, and those behaviors are met with swift consequences.

In the elementary school, we hold regular assemblies where we celebrate our students and their accomplishments. In guidance class, Mr. Driscol often teaches our young people strategies on how to deal with conflicts. On the playground, a group of our students moderate conflicts between peers.

Now that the election is over (and thankfully the ads), we should all take solace in the fact that we are most certainly not left with a fresh slate of horrible politicians to govern. I choose to believe that all politicians, Democrats and Republicans alike have chosen to serve with pure intentions. They truly want to make our state and country a better place to live, work, and raise our families. Undoubtedly they will have different ideas and philosophies on how to make that happen--but they all do have the same (and at times idealistic) goal in mind: make our country better!

Whether or not you candidate won or lost last night, those who won deserve our respect. I choose to respect our Governor not because he is a Republican, but because he is our Governor. I choose to respect our President not because he is a Democrat, but because he is our President.  

The problems that need to be solved are very complex. If they were easy, then they would have been solved by now. The possible solutions are too numerous to count, which most certainly exacerbates the issues and makes them more difficult to solve. What I have chosen to pay the most attention to in this election cycle is a candidate's willingness to listen to their constituents, and their ability to work with people in the opposing party who may have ideologies in direct contrast to their own. 

Thankfully the election is over and the ads have now stopped. Now is the time for our politicians to show our young people how to govern and to prove that they can get along with one another. It is time to demonstrate where we all share a common vision, that we can work together to make our state and country better for everyone!

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