After election we need unity

I went home to my parents’ house for dinner last week. My mom makes the best chili in the world, and I was looking forward to it, but as we were eating I realized that something was not quite right.

Our mealtime conversation was filled with the usual talk of work and school, sports and church. But something was missing.

Politics is a touchy subject, always has been. As long as I can remember my family has hashed out the issues over dinner, debating the strengths and weaknesses of candidates. My father listens to Rush Limbaugh, my mom tends to vote democrat, and I float in between. With three viewpoints sharing the same dinner table, we have no trouble finding places of disagreement.

No matter how sharp our arguments get, the conflict has always been washed away with the dishes.

In my parents’ house, and across the country, people seem to be taking things a little more seriously, more personally. Somehow, who we are casting our votes for now reflects on our character.

It’s almost as if we have two countries — one democrat, one republican.

From the left, Mr. Bush and his supporters are demonized. Democrats often see him as a warmonger on the payroll of big corporations. Many Americans find it completely inconceivable that any rational person could vote for him.

Similarly, many of the president’s supporters see Bush as the only defender of morality and virtue. Mr. Kerry is wishy-washy on the issues, while Mr. Bush stands firm to his beliefs. To them it is impossible to understand how anyone, especially a Christian, could possibly vote against him.

There is very little room in the middle of this election. Both sides are agitated and not thinking entirely rationally.

Obviously, there has always been disagreement over politics. It is human nature to find fault with one’s opponents, and the rise of negative ads in the last 50 years has only accelerated the process. This election is different. Politics has never been this vitriolic and polarized.

Once we could agree to disagree, but we don’t talk about politics at my parents’ house any more. I guess we get too fired up.

The country is more energized and divided than it has been since Vietnam.

What is going to happen Nov. 2 when one candidate wins? Half the country is going to have voted for the other candidate. If the 2000 election is any indication, the losing side will be bitter and angry. Whoever is elected president is going to have to heal the wounds of a divisive campaign, and we as Americans will have to do the same.

On both sides of this political battle there are millions of Americans who have given this election and its candidates a lot of thought. People have looked at the two choices and come to a rational decision of whom to vote for.

And they haven’t all came to the same conclusion.

November 3 this will all be over, and many of us will be faced with a president we have trouble supporting. America needs to rally behind its leader, regardless of who wins, and enter the next four years as one country, not two.

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Title: After election we need unity | Author: Matt Weltner | Section: Opinions | Published Date: 2004-10-27 | Internal ID: 4145