Why Can’t We Talk about Politics?

With the election newly over, passions are still running high. But, as one of the pundits pointed out last night, after all the hard campaigning, we are still pretty much where we started: with Washington gridlock. Some people blame the President and Democrats for the gridlock, some the Republicans. Some just want to sweep both current sides out of office and start over.

The fact of the matter is, we as a people are losing the ability to truly talk about the issues facing our country. Presidential debates have become nothing more than a series of pre-packaged messages bits and sarcastic jabs at the opponent. The media as a whole tends to give the megaphone to whoever has the most extreme views of each party, ignoring the vast majority of people in the middle. “Discourse” in America has become an exchange of negative ads, half-truths, and sound bites.

This has got to stop.

America faces huge issues—energy, immigration, and the debt, just to name a few. By the narrow margin in the popular vote, it is clear our nation is split down the middle. The problems America faces cannot be solved by one party ramming an agenda down the other’s throat, only to have it repealed when the opposing party comes to power. To enact real and lasting solutions, our politicians have to work together—and they are not.

We the people need to demand more. We need to demand that our politicians put the country first and their own re-election second. We need to demand that our media dig deep into the issues, giving us reliable facts, not spin and sound-bites. We need to demand that debates become a forum for true discussion, not “issue speed-dating” where you touch on these complicated issues for two minutes and then move on.

We the people can do this by setting the example. By learning to talk to each other without letting passions overcome our ability to listen to the other side. This year, a child went Trick Or Treating with his friend. They went together as Obama and Romney. There were actually people who refused to give the Obama child candy because of politics.

Is this who we want to be as a country?

Of course not. The majority of us, in both parties, are rational, intelligent people who simply want common-sense solutions. We understand that there may have to be some compromise to find a way forward, and that the compromise solution will likely only be a first step, not a final fix. We want to see all people treated equally, to see all children have an equal shot at attaining their dreams, to see America strong again.

We all want the same things. We disagree on how to get there. The popular vote numbers show this. But rather than despair that the roughly 50-50 split means more gridlock, we should accept it as a challenge to learn to communicate with one another. Our learning to talk across the divide and find common ground is not a luxury—it is an imperative. We must do this, or we will destroy our country from within. United we stand; divided we fall. This is more true now than ever.

The election may be over, but our role in our country’s future didn’t end when we cast our ballot. Going forward, we still have a voice. Use it to speak to your representatives. Use it to speak to the next generation. Use it to speak to your neighbor.

Just remember to listen, too.

UPDATE: Visit Don Lafferty’s blog to find out how YOU can get your voice heard and protest the gridlock in Washington. http://donaldlafferty.com/the-election-is-over-but-were-not-finished-end-government-gridlock/

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