Presidential election was not what it should be

Dec. 4, 2012 at 6:04 a.m.

Now that the 2012 election is finally over, I can't help but think about how relieved I am, though not, perhaps for the usual reasons. I'm not happy because my candidate won (he didn't) or because I hate hearing about politics (because I don't.)

I love the idea of the American system of government, and frankly, I think the idea that we get to elect our representation is one of the most undervalued parts of our government. Every four years, we the people have the opportunity to throw out the most powerful leader in our country if we don't like how he's done the job. I was excited for this opportunity; and I was excited about this year. You see, this year's election was the first presidential election I ever had the chance to vote in, and it let me down.

With our right to vote comes the responsibility to carefully consider all the options, research and have healthy discussions about the issues. That's not what I saw during this election. Instead, what I got was a tidal surge of personal attacks, exaggeration, name-calling and anger coming from supporters of both sides.

Now, I know it'd be easy to point out my age and how few elections I've been around to see, but it's impossible to deny that this election was more than a little bit mean-spirited. It seems like some people are not only unwilling to admit that people who disagree with them might have a point, but they are unwilling to admit that people who disagree with them even exist. A few days ago when I was at work, despite trying as hard as I could to avoid any last-minute political squabbles, I overheard several people shouting about the elections. Against my better judgment, I asked them if they'd voted. This accidentally set off a rampage of ranting about political corruption and how it's meant that the "real winner" of the elections never actually has a chance.

Their attitude wouldn't have bothered me if it hadn't been so focused on blaming others. The results make it clear that this election was extremely close, so I understand that many people are feeling discouraged, but I wonder if they would be so willing to complain about "corruption" if they were convinced that most of the errors would have gone to their candidate.

As I've talked to other people about the election, I always seem to hear the same statements: "I don't vote because both candidates are the same," or "The corporations will pick who wins anyway." It feels like we have forgotten that there is a chance, however slight, that in the past, elections haven't been decided mostly by corporations, secret societies or corrupt leaders, but by a majority of people who might disagree with us.

No matter whom we voted for or whose policies we liked the best, it's important for us to remember that we're all Americans. We're all, ultimately, on the same side here, and we all are trying to reach the same goal: to make our country the best place it can possibly be.

Abraham Lincoln, someone who knew how dangerous division could be, warned us about this when he said, paraphrasing Jesus Christ: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." As Americans, we need to remember that wise warning and take it to heart. I'm tired of hearing Americans blame each other. I'm tired of hearing one side call the other one "socialists" and question our president's nationality. I'm tired of the other side calling "racism" every time someone disagrees or mocking their opponents for their religious beliefs. I'm tired of living in a battleground of anger instead of an exchange of ideas.

If we want to see this country be what it can be, we have to come back together. We have to be passionate about what we believe, absolutely, but we can't afford to attack and belittle each other. The election that divided us is over. It's time to remember everything that unites us.

Philip Collins is a Victoria native and a senior at UHV. After graduation, he plans to work as a freelance writer.



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