People! Democracy isn’t reality television

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, March 16, 2016

OK, take a deep breath before you read any further. Now, take another one and do your best to step to one side of whatever side you support in the free-for-all that passes for a campaign for the president of the United States.

People, people, people!!!

This is supposed to be democracy in action, not reality television where the candidate who acts the nuttiest, says the most outlandish things about the other candidates (or any other subject that comes to mind) and works the crowd into a frenzy gets the job.

It is nasty out there and we seem to enjoy the show. In fact, many of us sit on the edge of our seats waiting for the next outrageous comment, action, fistfight etc.

I don’t think this is what the founders of our country intended. Of course, they never watched The Apprentice or Honey Boo Boo or Duck Dynasty or The Real Housewives of Wherever. So maybe we’d have a different system if they had that opportunity.

Yep, there is craziness swirling around in this presidential campaign. We’ve heard talk about the size of body parts, discussions about who is natural born, arguments over the meaning of democratic socialist, people punching people at rallies and so on and so forth.

I read a message from a friend who is a member of the media and covered a Trump rally. He described a circus atmosphere just on the edge of erupting into a riot. He felt so disheartened he wanted to go home and hide from the sideshow. I feel his pain, but hiding is probably the last thing we need.

I’d like to think there are a lot of us who don’t agree with what we see taking place in our political process and feel sad for our country. As unlikely as it is for me, I agree with something I heard Marco Rubio say.

He said what is happening on the campaign trail is bigger than Republicans and Democrats. Using language that incites violence and plays on people’s pent up anger to try and garner votes is something that should concern everyone. He said what we say matters because our words have consequences. He’s right.

We are at a crossroads. Not only are we choosing a president but we are also deciding what kind of country we are now and in the future.

We need to consider whether we are a country driven by fear or grounded in hope. No matter what candidate or party we support, we should take a step back from getting him or her elected and consider the bigger picture.

I know this sounds “hippyish,” but you get back what you send out — reap what you sow. If fear and anger are what guides and motivates us, well guess what’s probably going to come home to roost.

Whether some of our candidates realize it, this is a country of diversity. We are a country of many races, many beliefs and cultures and lifestyles. Our forefathers meant it to be that way. Dividing ourselves into opposing sides with no common ground will not keep us strong.

Consider words from James Madison, who helped establish this nation and understood the importance of diversity. He praised the new country’s constitution for welcoming all individuals “…of every description, whether native or adoptive, whether young or old, and without regard to poverty or wealth, or to any particular profession of religious faith.” Afraid his ideas wouldn’t get much attention in today’s political environment.

So again, let’s take a breath and for a minute drop our anger over whatever it is we are angry about, let go of our idea that the political party we don’t support is evil and leading us to ruin and try to find a starting point for intelligent discussions about the challenges facing our great country.

If we don’t, we aren’t going to be watching a reality television nightmare, we are going to be living in the middle of one.


Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.