Presidential Election

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“Whose garden was this, did it have flowers? I’ve seen pictures of flowers, and I’d love to have smelled one.”

That is a lyric from Tom Paxton’s “Whose Garden Was This.” I feel his sentiment about the general destruction and ill care of nature, but also in a broader sense.

I listen to NPR in my car on the commute to work, and lately the airwaves are focused on one thing: the Presidential election.

While listening to the speakers, a comment caught my ear and has stuck with me. “This race will be toxic.” The nominees are vicious, hurling rude insults, and the result will be that many Americans will simply throw up their hands in disgust and not vote.

A toxic race. I’ve lived through toxic relationships, and I know the havoc they can wreak. They undermine confidence and cripple. They result in anxiety and fatigue; they belittle, intimidate and confine. If we found out that our child was in a relationship with someone who behaved in this way, we would be outraged; we would want to shield and protect them.  We wouldn’t want this for our daughters, and we shouldn’t want this for our country.

Our nation’s leader is to do just that – lead. He or she is the figure head of our country, the Commander- in-Chief, our guide as we navigate this increasingly complicated and frightening world. The President is responsible for the protection of our people, to mind our best interests, promote equality, and increase our prosperity. Should not our leaders also lead by example?

I understand human nature; I work in customer service. I have been on the receiving end of threats, cursing, blustering, anger, frustration, and tantrums. At the end of each of these experiences, I shake my head and say the same thing, “In what world do people believe that this is acceptable behavior?”

If I would have ever reacted in this manner with my mother in ear shot not only would she have washed my mouth out with soap, she would make me call back and apologize. I’ve received the above treatment in one conversation from a grandmother, her daughter, and her granddaughter – in that case I know where the behavior was learned.

It seems that all I see and hear these days is vulgarity, hate, and filth. We allow and promote this behavior for a cheap thrill and a tabloid sale.

People are saying that some voters are disgusted by their options. If this is our accepted environment, what else could we expect when it comes time to look for a new leader?

A toxic race?  Toxicity doesn’t fade once you slap a label on it; you need a hazmat suit and special care instructions. We’re courting our candidates and from where I’m sitting 4 toxic years is a long-term relationship with a political situation that I’m not willing to commit to just yet.

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