Guest opinion: America deserves better
“The lesser of two evils.” That is a quote you don’t want to hear repeatedly when discussing the choices for President of the United States. Unfortunately, that is the opinion of many of our fellow countrymen and women who bemoaned this year’s major party nominees. Let me clarify that this piece was written before Election Day. It really doesn’t matter who prevailed on Nov. 8, since the nation will remain so polarized. Counting ballots is just a halftime show in a battle involving ideological and personal attacks between the two sides. As someone who is focused on the future and the world we are creating for future generations, I’m constantly asking myself the rhetorical question “How did we get here?” The simplest of answers is that Americans have become so jaded and lost all faith in government that we may be fulfilling the words of Galatians: “Whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” If that is the case, then the media deserve some of the blame. As an institution protected by the First Amendment, our news organizations are often considered the fourth branch of government. Their focus in political campaigns, however, is too often on superficial qualities and actions of candidates, and campaigns are treated as little more than sporting events. The coverage of the 2016 campaign has centered around personal attacks and allegations from each side, despite the fact that brave men and women are in harm’s way on foreign soil; our workforce training isn’t keeping up with employer demands; the burden of the national debt is increasing almost exponentially; and many men, women and children struggle to meet the basic needs of living. The media are just a symptom of a larger problem, however; the truth is the level of public discourse in Washington, D.C., and in our state capitols is uninspiring. At these levels of government, opposing sides forget that we are all on the same team. Here in our community, we are all Americans, Kentuckians and Woodford Countians. We might disagree about details, but we all want positive outcomes at all levels of society. I admittedly live in a glass house as an elected official, and in full disclosure, I have regretfully made comments that were not conducive to positive discourse. I am learning from these experiences, though, and am striving to reach out more to those whose views may differ from my own. That’s the only real way out of this predicament. Let’s begin by treating everyone with the respect they deserve. People who don’t agree with our political preferences or policy positions are not necessarily evil! Let’s also start holding elected officials and candidates accountable to providing real solutions, not partisan talking points. Let’s make elections for offices of trust more dignified than elections for fifth grade class president. Let’s not play political “Gotcha” every time a leader has the courage to share a big idea. Let’s demand the government we deserve because, quite frankly, we deserve better. To sum it up, let’s sow politeness, big ideas, and candidates that are more substance than show, and then pray we are able to reap a bountiful crop of peace and prosperity during the next round of elections. Let us strive to never again have to use the phrase “the lesser of two evils,” no matter the race. Brian Traugott is mayor of Versailles.