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Don't Widen The Partisan Divide, Bridge It!

by Perry Waag, published

Regardless of whether you are a middle of the road independent like me, or a staunch conservative, or a liberal Democrat, something really important and timeless was said on Friday, January 20.

But not this past Friday.

On Friday, January 20, 1961, President John F. Kennedy stated in his Inaugural Address, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your country.”

We are a divided and polarized nation. What I, an average citizen humbly ask of my fellow Americans, on behalf of our country (that we all love) is the following:

Don’t widen the gap, Bridge the gap!

Walk a mile in the other person’s shoes before you summarily judge and dismiss their views. Keep an open mind. Consider all points of view. Seek common ground. Take the high road. Be willing to admit when you are wrong and the other person is right. Don’t gloat when you are right. Don’t make fun of those you disagree with. Don’t question the patriotism or intelligence of those you disagree with. We all love our country and want what is best for it in the short and long term. We simply disagree about how best to make that happen. None of us is any better than the rest of us. We all want to leave a positive and lasting legacy for our future generations. And none of us are getting out of here alive, so proceed accordingly.

Our Founding Fathers were against party politics precisely because it caused division and strife where there didn’t need to be. If all we did was eliminate the two-party system and voted purely for the best person for each job from a solution oriented approach to fixing problems, our societal divisions would immediately begin to heal and go away.

One way or the other we must break the two-party system. We have 3 branches of government for checks and balances but only two parties. Either we need no parties or we need a major 3rd party in the middle to break the stalemate and return the focus to solving problems in the interests of the vast majority of Americans who just want government to do its job and let them live their lives.

Going forward, strive hard to follow the Golden Rule of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”. Try hard to keep your thoughts, words, and actions constructive.

Constantly ask yourself, “Are my thoughts, words, and deeds helping to bridge the gap or making it wider?”

Believe me, I’m also guilty of doing it over the years, but every time we like or share a meme or post we think is funny that makes fun of something we disagree with, or attacks those that we disagree with, all it does is help to harden the divisions in our country. It doesn’t fix or solve anything. By doing so, we are part of the problem.

I don’t know about you, but I’m so sick and tired of the problems and divisions that I definitely do not want to be a part of the problem anymore. I want so badly to be a part of the solution. I want to bring both sides together to actually fix and solve problems.

It is deeply regrettable that our politicians, especially the holder of the Office of President, is so viciously maligned by their opponents. It has been that way for far too long and it must change. No one seeks that office in particular without sincerely wanting to do good work for their fellow citizens, of that much I am certain. It is an impossible and thankless job.

It is imperative that we all get back to believing in, and hoping for, the best of our politicians, while still preparing for the worst. I did not vote for Donald Trump, and like the vast majority of Americans I was completely underwhelmed by all of the candidates we had to choose from in 2016.

We have the two-party system to thank for that. After 200+ years of it, we have completely degenerated into a “lesser of two evils” choice system. That approach will never maximize America’s promise and potential. It will always leave us wanting for more and never getting it.

Think back about all the presidents who have been elected since you came of age. I’m 40 years old. The first election I really remember with any clarity was 1988 when I was 12 years old. Even then while I remember being happy that George H.W. Bush won, I also remember being underwhelmed by his vice presidential pick, Dan Quayle, and not impressed with the alternative of Michael Dukakis.

Since that election, I can honestly say there hasn’t been a single presidential candidate I have been completely happy or satisfied with or didn’t have to hold my nose to vote for in the end. America deserves much better choices than that every 4 years!

If you were deeply disturbed over the last 8 years at how President Obama was treated, as I was, then going forward, if you want to protest President Trump or any politician or party, and provide loyal opposition, that is absolutely acceptable, all I ask is that you do it in such a way that you are trying to help bridge the gap, not widen it.

My personal hope going forward remains the same….an end to budget deficits, a shrinking national debt, better economic prospects for all, and a renewed belief that all of the ideals we hold dear to our hearts as Americans are real and attainable, such as Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness, and true Equality.

To help make that hope a reality, every day I will be asking myself one question, ”Are my thoughts, words, and actions helping to bridge differences or making the gap wider?”

We are all in this together, and we all have far more in common than we do that divides us.

Let us magnify our commonalities instead of our divisions. Seek the common ground. Believe in the best of each other. Heal this nation.

One way or another, we must end this perpetual two-party cycle of division and attacking and belittling the other side. We all want what is best for our country. We all love our country. We simply disagree on how best to improve it. Let us focus on constructive, inclusive solutions. If we do that, it won't matter who gets credit for fixing the problems, because we will all be responsible and can share in the credit.

Photo Credit: akha uni /

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