By Armstrong Williams (NNPA Newswire Columnist)
This presidential cycle has arguably brought out the very worst in our nation. Insults are hurled and people’s character is assassinated as we witness a cascade of name-calling, personal threats, intimidation, bullying, outright lying and sneering false sanctimony —and that was just during the latest presidential debate. It’s a sad commentary on the state of our union to observe the behavior of the two people who aspire to lead our country. How has it come to pass that these are the two options from which we must choose?
The nominees for president are two of the most unpopular candidates in history. Many people who are voting are not inspired to support one candidate, but are casting ballots simply to prevent the other from winning. The question of who should hold the highest office in our nation – and instantly become the most powerful person in the world – has transformed from one of who deserves this honor and can handle this responsibility to deciding who would be most likely to do the least damage. Choosing from the lesser of two evils is not an ideal situation, to say the least. Distrust toward our government is at an all-time high, and the American people are badly polarized.
As the election campaign wears on, the language is becoming more and more crass. The attacks the candidates are leveling upon one another are becoming more and more personal. Lines have been crossed time and again, as we are no longer surprised by anything that happens. Disgusted, perhaps, but not surprised.
The mainstream media must bear responsibility for the role it continues to play in fomenting this political blood sport. The continuous pre-debate coverage and the speculation of how the candidates might attack each other proved to be a self-fulfilling prophecy and does our country no favors. The build-up and the outrage fomented by the press serves to further polarize our country. It is reminiscent of pre-fight hype before a boxing match. On the debate stage, as in the ring, the candidates circled each other. They swung hard and fought tooth and nail to achieve “victory.” But at what cost? The truth is that we all come out bruised and bloodied, and ultimately we all have lost.
With just weeks before the election, I pray that the presidential candidates and the American people raise ourselves from this muck and focus instead on what is truly important—the policies that will drive our nation forward, or mire us in stagnation. Instead of discussing who is more hateful and who can be nastier, let’s discuss how to boost the economy. Let’s hear serious discussions about healthcare, trade and foreign policy. Instead of beating each other down, let’s discuss how we can all play a role in keeping America at the top. The future of our country, and of the entire world, depends upon it.
Ironically, the second presidential debate fell squarely in the middle of the High Holidays, the holiest time of the year for our Jewish brothers and sisters. During this period, between Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish new year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the Jewish people embark on a process called teshuva, where they recognize their past mistakes and make amends for anything they have done wrong during the past year. Most importantly, they promise to try to be better in the future.
We should all try to be better in the year ahead.
Let’s elevate our rhetoric. Instead of concentrating on our differences, let’s focus instead on our commonalities. Believe it or not, we have some. Even Trump and Clinton agree on some issues.
America is the greatest country in the world. We should not be rolling around in the gutter. We should not allow our rhetoric to devolve into foul language and rampant disrespect for fellow citizens. I continue to believe that the majority of the American people are honest, respectful and hardworking. They do not deserve to see the very people vying for the highest office in our land to be brawling and swearing and adopting a scorched earth approach to this election. A more dignified approach is in order and long overdue: one where the candidates share their thoughts and plans and philosophies. As Americans, we need to recognize the humanity in people who may share different thoughts about how to secure our future and ensure the best possible outcome for the generation to come.
Our electoral decisions should not hinge upon name-calling or the leaking of scandals, but by whose policies we believe have the most merit.
On November 8, we will elect a new president. That person will lead our country for the next four years. And regardless of the outcome of the election, we will have a peaceful transfer of power. That’s what this democracy does; and America is a shining example for the world. Regardless of what happens at the polls, we will need to come together, find some common ground and restore some level of decorum to our politics.
Mr. Williams is Manager / Sole Owner of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the year. Listen to Mr. Williams on Sirius XM126 Urban View nightly 6:00-8:00pm EST. Become a fan on Facebook and follow Armstrong on Twitter @arightside. Read Armstrong’s brand new book Reawakening Virtues on RightSideWire.com and Come join the discussion live at 6-8 p.m. and 4-6 a.m. est. on Sirius/XM UrbanView 126.