As the race for the future unfolds it is interesting to note that there is a change in tone. Voices young and old, left and right, are softening and a new civility can be heard in the declarations of all but the incurably bitter.
Hate is not the moniker of any one group or party. The Ann Coulters of the World may be exceedingly vicious, but we on the left have our haters. I remember the sad day during the '04 election when a group of folks in Hollywood held an "I Hate Bush "party. How must that have felt to the folks all over the Country who cast their votes with him?
Anger has fueled the debate for years now. I am by no means innocent on that score. I have gotten into my share of arguments that were unpleasant and overwrought. I have friends who spend inordinate amounts of time griping about the state of things. The focus on the negative is addicting. People start their day tuning into talk shows that rant and rave and hurl vitriol as if it were a nutrient. Hate for breakfast. We have been ingesting it by the bowlful and it has clogged the airways of our national dialogue.
I was taken aback when Hillary Clinton explained in a recent interview that in the general election there are going to be serious assaults on our candidate. Apparently, the hate will hit the fan and she claims to be best able to counter-attack. I sympathize with her on this point, as she has withstood quite a lot condemnation and scrutiny in the past. Maybe that is what drove the recent Clinton antics in South Carolina. They are of the mind set that campaigns are wars to fought, with the end justifying any means. This is startlingly reminiscent of the Bush mentality and begs the question ... does it have to be so hateful? Do we really want another contest so brutal that both sides are left wounded and wanting revenge?
The two party system was created to provide checks and balances. The opposing sides are meant to provide insight into one another's point of view. For too many years we have been treated to the spectacle of our party leaders engaging in ideological warfare with both sides digging in and lobbing barbs and accusations from their respective trenches. This sniping and name-calling is stalling progress at every level of government. Witness the inability of my state of California to find common ground on a new budget. The revenue shortfalls we face require innovation, not recrimination.
A few of the candidates and their supporters have tried to paint any form of cooperation between the parties as a sign of betrayal. Both John McCain and Barack Obama have taken flack for daring to cross party lines to achieve legislation or to analyze best practices. The good news is that these arguments are falling on deaf ears. It is thinkable that people on both sides can have good ideas and good intentions. If we want the world to start listening to us again it behooves us to start listening to one another.
In the past few days I have received messages from some of my friends who for years have been decrying and damning the Right -- those same folks, who have been throwing things at the TV and threatening to move to Europe. The ones for whom cynicism has been the only solace. They are reaching out to me and they want to know if it is really happening? Is it really safe to hope that Barack Obama can actually triumph with a message of unity? All I know for sure is that the message is out there and that people are yearning to hear it. America is longing to be free from hate.
This is one of the many good reasons that young people have chosen his candidacy. This is why win or lose, the young need to speak out. They have largely rejected this intra-party hate. They are not yet battle scarred. They have no old scores to settle. They are our best hope for healing this nation.
I believe that Barack Obama will pull off this miracle. I absolutely believe that he will win the Presidency, but the biggest victory may be the change that is already at hand.
We are finally rejecting division. We are finally tired of being divided by race and by gender and by sexual preferences. Rich and poor, pro-war or pro-choice we are all Americans and we are all the children of God. Are we, at long last, agreeing to disagree? Can it be that Republicans as well as Democrats are coming to the realization that for all of our differences we have much in common?
Even the pundits are starting to lose the bickering and just tell us how they feel. We have seen Pat Buchanan defending Hillary and admitting he's afraid of McCain ... Tucker Carlson declaring "I like Obama because I don't feel like he hates me". Even Michael Moore seems to be toning it down. When the phone is ringing off the hook in Scarborough Country with folks who want to donate to a Democrat ... well the times they are a changin'.
I love voting day. I love the sight of my fellow citizens lining up to make their voices heard. I will be praying for Barack Obama.to prevail. I will be praying for the young people who are daring to dream and the old people who fear for them. I will be praying for the cynics and the cranks as well as the true believers. I will be praying that as we let our voices be heard, we learn to speak in gentler tones. I will be praying for the daring adventure that is America. I believe in us. Can we overcome the divisions between us in time to solve the problems that lay ahead? Three words.
YES WE CAN!