The attack ad campaigns in this year’s US Presidential election have been utterly despicable. I would say something dramatic like “they’re the worst I’ve ever seen” but, alas, I’m only 25 so that doesn’t really mean much. Nevertheless, I was around for the previous election and I don’t recall the debate being quite as vicious on Facebook four years ago. It just makes me sick. I’m tired of it.
I don’t think I’m the only one. There are a lot of people who are disenchanted with politics. The only people who tolerate mudslingers are those who enjoy slinging the mud. But, although I think most Americans are generally apathetic about national politics, the minority extremists are A LOT louder. Apathy doesn’t grab your attention quite like comparing your competition to Adolf Hitler.
And, you know what, that’s fine. People can believe what they want to believe—even if I think it’s ridiculously exaggerated. The problem that I just can’t seem to wrap my head around is when they try to hook me into their extremism. I’m not a democrat. I’m not a republican. Politically, I would call myself an extreme moderate. I have personal values, but I prefer not to project them onto other people. Unfortunately, other people don’t often treat me with the same respect.
Many times this election season, I’ve been criticized by Obama supporters, not for supporting Romney, but for NOT supporting Obama. Vice versa, I’ve been criticized by folks in the Romney camp, not for supporting Obama, but for NOT professing my undying devotion to the Romney party. People from BOTH sides have expressed their disapproval of my inability to commit.
They say I’m “sitting on the fence.” That I’m afraid to stand up for what I believe and that I’m just a people pleaser, catering to the views of whoever I’m speaking with at the moment. They say that I need to draw a line in the sand and decide which side I’m on. They tell me I need to either be conservative or liberal, but I can’t be both. Because we’re in a war, aren’t we? I can’t fight for both sides.
This goes beyond politics. It’s about religion. It’s about economics. It’s about social values. It’s about what it means to be human. You see, I am happy where I am—right in the middle of the debate. It’s not because I’m a people pleaser, per se. I don’t tell certain people I believe one thing and others that I believe something else…just to gain approval from everyone. But yes, I do sit on the fence on most issues…and I’m completely comfortable there. It’s also not because I don’t have personal values. I have my feelings about what’s right and what’s wrong. But I still won’t join the war. Why? Because I don’t believe that, at the heart of humanity, there really is a war. I believe the war is in our minds.
I believe that we’re all in this together. I believe there is one race: the human race. I believe there is one party: the ideals of freedom and justice that all humans crave. I believe there is one religion: the search for truth and meaning that all humans experience. I believe we all come from the same place, we’re all on the same journey, and we’re all bound for the same destination. I believe we’re all grappling with our existence and trying to find our place in the world. There is no war. We’re all on the same team. If there is a war, it isn’t with each other. It’s with hatred and injustice and suffering and all the darkness that threatens our world.
I know this. That the day we stop warring with one another is the day we really achieve world peace. Yes, I sit on the fence. It’s nice here. I’m among friends. We share ideas instead of arguing. We seek to understand one another instead of seeking to persuade one another. Incredulously, we watch the war play out before our very ideas and wonder why people are fighting against one another instead of fighting alongside one another.
You know what? I’m going to tell you a little secret. You don’t have to pick a side. Don’t buy into that rhetoric. You’ll hear calls-to-arms from every angle—people trying to rally you up for their cause aimed at fellow human beings. Resist the propaganda. There is no cause worth degrading your fellow human being. Don’t let anyone tell you that refusing to join the war makes you a pansy or a coward. They’re just trying to trick you into picking a fight. Lay down your weapons. It isn’t worth it.
I’m on the fence. I’m not moving. This is where I belong. There’s room on the fence for a few more. Care to join me?
The sad truth is that this election wasn't won by Obama any more than it was lost by Romney. It was decided by those who didn't vote. Vast numbers of them stayed away. For me, those are the ones sitting on the fence. You seem more of a compromiser. You will always draw fire from the side you do not appear to be supporting in the moment.