Every election year reveals more than a few zealous political fans. This one is no different. You don’t have to go very far to hear someone’s opinion of this or that presidential candidate, including who is the worst liar, the rudest, the dumbest, which one is the craziest clown and most fun to watch or make fun of, and who is the most evil out of all the Beelzebubs running.
Following these views, you are reliably informed of said person’s opinions on important political topics at hand, quickly followed by more talk of lying and cheating, as well as restated invectives against who they think is the biggest criminal running for president.
Everyone is aghast at our nation’s choices.
And all of Canada sighs in smug satisfaction with its sexy, sweaty, seemingly superhuman new Prime Minister, his legacy already a legend.
I remember overhearing a conversation among adults when I was in elementary school, back when a presidential election year was just a regular year for kids, not a year of education about our nation’s election process and political manipulations as well as indoctrination into parents’ most passionate causes.
“I’m afraid to vote for Reagan,” I eavesdropped.
Why? Did this Reagan fellow have nuclear war on his mind? This was my primary concern as a child in the 1980s, which was cemented when hearing about and seeing too much of the TV film TheDay After (a close second was seeing a ghost). Would my parents be drafted to fight? Would I become an orphan? I was a small-town girl, too soft for a life epitomized by hard knocks.
Owing partly to the fact that I was a sneaky Pete who was listening in on a conversation that I was definitely not invited to, I knew better than to ask my parents how one political aspirant could be scarier than another. I knew I would not receive a kid-friendly explanation if I pressed, and I wasn’t sure I wanted one, anyway. I preferred to let the grown-ups handle the complicated, high-level decisions as I brushed my Barbie’s hair and contemplated which of my two Ken dolls she would be making out with later.
And Reagan became president, and the earth continued to spin.
I wonder if anyone realizes that conflagrant political candidate conversations happen every eight years, or sometimes just every four in America. I wonder if they remember a time when they were afraid of who ended up governing this nation.
I wonder how that fear made a difference.
I spend a lot of time on Facebook hiding the posts of friends who proclaim a strong political stance. I have never been swayed in one direction or another by someone’s fiery opinion on anything in social media. I also haven’t watched any of the “debates,” a term I use loosely if anyone who’s watched can be believed. It’s too early for that, I think.
All the arguments and shouting matches that people laugh at and poke fun of – emphasizing the ridiculousness of the people running for president, naturally – I’ll take a hard pass. I prefer to preserve a sense of respect for the office, not watch it like I would a pro wrestling show, consuming it from the cheap seats as I munch from a bowl of popcorn and try not to choke when someone says something shocking. I was never a fan of trainwrecks, and besides, one of these is a person I will be expected to support if elected. Why would I join in at pointing fingers and laughing at a person who might be leading my country later?
The grown-ups don’t seem to be handling the complicated, high-level decisions very well so far.
I’ll wait until near the end to prepare for my turn at the voting booth, when information has been distilled to a more manageable and less chaotic level, after the candidates have more practice being candidates and less like competitors in the most outrageous performance art category. It happens every election year. Maybe this year will be different and the calm will never come; this world is surprising.
For now, as the earth spins, I will hold onto what is real: my own beliefs and opinions of what’s most important, what I’m teaching my family, and what I have to do today.