Last week a four year old Colorado girl, Abigael Evans, cried as she listened to 2012 campaign advertisements on National Public Radio in the car. “I’m tired of Bronco Bama and Mitt Romney”, said Abigael sadly. (Me too!) Her mother, Elizabeth replied, “That’s why you’re crying?” With tears streaming down her face, Abigael nodded affirmatively.
Many across the nation had similar thoughts as the insightful little girl, especially those of us living in swing states. For much of the day, on broadcast channels all we saw were political ads. After a while, I wonder if those financing them understood that under such saturation all we heard was “blah, blah, blah”. Then we’d switch the channel. Truthfully, I could hardly wait until the day after the election, when many of us would let out a collective sigh of relief and there would be less divisiveness and negativity emitting from our televisions and radios.
The monies raised during the election season have been astronomical. What if the billions of dollars raised and spent to influence the populace had been pumped into the economy toward making our decaying infrastructure healthier or to pay down the nation’s deficit? (Lest we’ve forgotten we have a structure for that, it’s called our tax system.)
Assuredly as the election has ended and a winner declared, the divisiveness continues. Partisan leaders of both parties have come out with public statements spouting rhetoric regarding tax reform and the looming “fiscal cliff” the government is facing on January 1 if an agreement on the budget is not reached by the end of the year. This cliff is a mix of spending cuts and tax increases which will sharply reduce the 2013 deficit and, according to many experts, throw us back into a recession. The truth of the matter is the budget is a moral document. We must remember that above all else.
Elections are about governing and the making of public policy. We elect political leaders into positions of management to do what is best for all of the people. I can only hope that our politicians remember that once they get around tables to hash out a deal. Unfortunately, when we operate on a system of winners and losers versus one in which compromise, consensus and mutuality rule, bitterness and heartache will inevitably be a consequence. Hence states which desire to secede from the union.
Yes, we are a nation divided by differing ideological positions. But ought we to allow those issues to become the proverbial threads that undue the unique tapestry comprising this great nation? What if those differences made us a richer and more diverse democracy of creative individuals rather than an oppressive and tyrannical society where we are pressured to act, believe and live alike? We must find a way to live, work and play together in a way that benefits all.
So thank you, Abigael Evans. Thank you for expressing yourself in a way that I and others weren’t able to do. Perhaps the wisdom in your tears will wash over us all and we will begin to work together understanding the soul of our nation is at stake. For divisiveness is not what our nation’s founders envisioned. One of those founders, Patrick Henry, said it best: “United we stand, divided we fall.”
The United Church of Christ has 5,194 churches throughout the United States. Rooted in the Christian traditions of congregational governance and covenantal relationships, each UCC setting speaks only for itself and not on behalf of every UCC congregation. UCC members and churches are free to differ on important social issues, even as the UCC remains principally committed to unity in the midst of our diversity.