Normally, I used to hate the year-and-a-half-long head start of political campaigning that comes with the presidential election because I was younger and not able to vote, but this year it’s different.
I’ve been waiting 19 years to let my voice be heard. Due to my birthday, I missed the right to vote in the previous election by mere months. Yet it was during the last election cycle that something within me changed. A new desire to become a citizen of not only my country, but also of the world, was born. I participated in my high school’s mock election as if it were the real thing. I had political debates wherever I could. In my political frenzy, I bookmarked my favorite news sites, subscribed to weekly political magazines and picked up copies of my local newspaper as often as possible. I remember celebrating with my friends the night that President Obama was officially elected to the Oval Office.
Like many others, I believed there was hope yet for our country, that perhaps we were headed down a new path as a nation. I was wrong—not about Barack Obama, but a much bigger problem. No part of me believes that President Obama is or has been a bad president. Any man who inherits presidential responsibilities, especially those of the last four years, and does a relatively decent job is okay by me.
Perhaps a lot of the country and I set our expectations a bit too high. As a nation, I think we forget just how demanding of a job it really is to be president. After all, he’s only a man. Since the start of his term though, I’ve kept up with current political issues, just as I did at the start of the previous election and have had three years to formulate new, and what I feel to be wiser opinions. In the last few months I’ve pored over editorials and civil columns by the dozens. Slowly, my attitude has shifted from excitement to trepidation as I have come to realize what I was wrong about.
I forgot we are nation not of one, but of many. I placed my faith in one man instead of the nation as a whole. Subconsciously, I believed one man could craft and concoct miraculous ways to steer the country down a positive road. I completely ignored the fact that this one man stood on the shoulders of an entire nation that, without a strong base of support, could crumble. And that is exactly what happened. Behind the fervor of hope, battle lines were being drawn. Republicans and everyone against the nation’s election of President Obama decided that if they couldn’t hold office then they would not support the president, fighting him in every way possible. Now, I know this is standard politics and the process which helps to keep the nation in check, but I don’t think the rivalry between political factions was ever supposed to been blown this far out of proportions.
While this doesn’t hold true for everyone, it seems like large majorities don’t even know what it is we are bickering about. I’m surrounded by individuals who vote Republican or Democrat because, as they say, “They are Republicans or Democrats.” When asked, these same individuals couldn’t tell me one issue that their side stands for. In my mind, it is as if the two political parties are nothing but mere sports team. These days, you’re either one or the other. You’re either with us or against us. Maybe this same problem wasn’t as bad in the past, or maybe the history books did not put enough emphasis on it. Either way, I’ve decided that bipartisanship is long gone, now residing in the company of the dinosaurs and the dodo bird.
I fear that the country may never get over itself and work together, as it should, to solve the arduous problems we face. I’m not talking about gay rights or abortion. These are personal problems. I’m talking about war, world relations and economic failure. These issues aren’t going to solve themselves or be solved by any single party.
Every party has their problems; Democrats play the victim, Republicans are too stubborn, Independents and Greens are ignored and Tea Parties are for children who play with imaginary friends. While every party needs to get over themselves before anything can truly get done, this is still not the problem. The issue is even more specific: it’s me. What have I done to fix the problem? I read and write on political issues, but more specifically, when’s the last time I acted in the interest of my country? Never. I guess it’s time to get started.