It is a matter of good timing that the holiday season comes on the heels of Election Day. This past decade has seen national elections getting nastier and more divisive, not just between the two parties but among ordinary Americans. And this year was no exception. Though we commend our local state legislature candidates for keeping their campaigns clean and issues-based, that earnest style of campaigning was absent from the national candidates and Super PACs, who flooded the South Florida market with a deluge of negative ads. Now that the bitterly fought campaign season is over and we’re well into the holiday season, it’s time for everyone to move on and get into the spirit of the season.
The biggest issue facing all Americans is the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Though it’s not exactly a cliff — Congress failing to reach an agreement won’t immediately drive the country into recession on Jan. 1 — if the two sides can’t come together, the American people will eventually pay the price. Though both sides say they want compromise, it’s hard to believe it until it actually happens. However, with so much at stake, we can only hope they will do the right thing. Though this will involve a lame-duck Congress, there are plenty of members who value their seats and know that their constituents will be taking notice. A Gallup poll in August found that Congress’ approval rating among Americans stood at just 10 percent, with a disapproval rating of 83 percent. Given those figures, Congress has to improve.
However, while Americans decry the lack of civility in Congress, many of us are guilty of the same thing, allowing politics to divide us from family members, friends and colleagues. Just one extreme example was the Arizona woman who drove her SUV over her husband because President Obama was re-elected and her husband didn’t vote. Thankfully, there weren’t more incidents like this; it’s likely the majority of post-election quarrelling was relegated to unfriending people on Facebook, as well as other, less confrontational formats. Though it’s easily done with the click on an icon, it’s still as real as telling someone in person. Either way, you’re ending a relationship, and while that may be OK when it comes to fair-weather Facebook “friends” (the ones we don’t immediately recognize upon seeing their names), longtime friends and family members deserve more consideration.
Now that a few weeks have passed since the election, it’s time to move forward and concentrate on our own lives. And with the holidays approaching, our focus should be on our families, friends and communities. The lawmakers in Washington have a lot to do, but so do their constituents back home, especially those who have broken relationships to mend in time for the holiday celebration.
There’s a bigger picture, and it transcends politics; it’s about our common humanity. Now is the time of year when it’s most crucial for us to step back and see it.