Will there be any healing after the vote?
With violence and claims of paid violent actors taking part in political rallies, increasingly angry chants against opponents, the rise in broadcast ads that either stretch the truth or insult the character of those seeking office, the 2016 election has been something to draw in the entire population, it seems
As the first election with tweeting candidates and nearly everyone using social media, it is impossible to get away, it seems, from commentary, often opposite of the viewer’s. What once seemed to be the provenance of parodying comedy writers is now the full-scale assault on the voter’s sensibilities in the form of wall-to-wall, punch-and-counterpunch ads that often would be funny if they were on late-night TV.
It won’t magically end after the polls close and the votes are counted on Tuesday.
But, perhaps more than ever, people need to remember that we are Americans and we share a great nation, gifted with natural resources, resourceful people, manufacturing might, colleges from coast to coast and the freedom to choose what we will do today.
And, come Wednesday, that choice will include healing divisions, no matter who wins. From animal control warden jobs to Hillary vs. Donald, Americans have been saturated daily for more than 18 months with an increasingly ugly campaign.
With Donald Trump’s pre-emptive strike about rigged elections, the faith of the American voter that has been fraying since the revelations about the election of 2000, it is possible to foresee a Wednesday without conclusion to this American embarrassment. And, with his coarse discourse, and Hillary’s shrill responses, it’s a given that America has eroded ever further away from being able to discuss anything of substance in a civil tone with respect for the other person.
In this social media election, people have been emboldened to discuss the election in ways that they never would have face-to-face, and that often includes full-on insults to people who support the other candidate or who cannot figure out what would bring anyone to vote for either presidential candidate.
There is little chance that the bickering of the social media mavens has changed anyone’s mind, as the commentary there tends to be only what is sought out to support one’s given position, with little thought about listening to any opposing viewpoint.
And, while we can scrub our Facebook walls and de-friend people in the virtual town square, on Wednesday, we still have to live in the real town square, with our co-workers, our friends, our neighbors and our families.
We don’t expect a full-on national group hug to break out. But we would remind people that words have impact, and what you write and publish on Facebook can harm relationships when the words jump off the screen and into the mind of the reader.
The best hope is that Trump’s rhetoric and the Democrats’ paid violence responses don’t lead to a permanent uncorking of age-old bigotries that were on display during the campaign.