Positively Political: Rejecting Old-Hat Party Politics in 2016
When did negativity become so damn synonymous with politics?
I know how naive that sounds. In truth, politics have always had an inherent aspect of negativity. For as long as there have been political issues and cultural divides, there have been parties on one side voicing criticism of the other. The better question may be: when did we let negativity hijack the national discourse? When did it become more about what the other person is doing wrong than about what we are doing right, or better yet, what we can all do together?
In the three presidential election cycles that have passed since I’ve been of voting age, I have witnessed negative messaging take on new, insidious and increasingly visible forms. The prevalence of social media hasn’t helped. We now live in a 24-hour media culture, where a 140-character Tweet seemingly has the power to divide the country; the news media capitalizes on the controversy; and individuals – friends, neighbors, and colleagues – spread hurtful, bigoted comments online as a pastime (often anonymously, behind the protection of a faceless screen).
Worse, politicians and supporters on BOTH sides of the aisle are guilty of tolerating corruption and bad behavior when it benefits their party line. This constant barrage of negativity is enough to dishearten the best of us.
So…where do you and I fit into the equation? I can’t speak for you, but I’ve given it a lot of thought over the past two weeks with the Republican National Convention coming to a close and now the Democratic National Convention in full swing, and I’m done settling for old-hat politics. I’m done with the notion that negativity and abhorrent behavior are just par for the political course. I’m ready for more.
So, let’s reject the premise that politics need to be divisive; that to lift one group up requires the tearing down of another. From now on, let’s put aside “party loyalty” and choose to support those who rise above the status quo and, through words and actions, show us they value thoughtful, positive solutions over partisan political gains and party lines. This is not to say people can’t and should not disagree. Debate is a necessary part of the process, but we need to start
expecting demanding more from our leaders and ourselves if we are ever going to change the tone of the conversation.
Tell me, am I naive to think we can shift the conversation? In a field brimming with negativity, who inspires you with their positive approach to tough issues?