On the Eve of the 2012 Presidential Election

The White House

As far as I can tell, Tuesday’s presidential election is still a toss-up. Republican nominee Mitt Romney has enjoyed a surge in polls in recent weeks due to his generally strong performances in last month’s presidential debates. Yet the latest Pew Research Poll indicates the incumbent President has a 50%-47% lead over Romney.

Whatever the outcome of Tuesday’s election will be, I’m relieved the election race is nearly over. I’ve heard a number of people say this race has been the most vicious and negative one in recent memory. And it’s hard to identify what all factors into this: fear over the growing national debt, concern over xenophobia, the impact of Citizens United, etc. The full list, if made, might be as long as the Great Wall of China. Come to think of it, China should probably be on the list, and not just because of monetary currency issues.

I’d be foolish and naive to think things will go completely back to normal after the results of Tuesday’s election are announced. But I do hope some level of decency and respect will be restored. It has been disheartening to see the rancor and the wrath surrounding and defining this election.

I can’t claim to have stayed above the fray. At times I worry I played the Socratic gadfly too long or too harshly. I may have challenged others’ thoughts about the election, but I can’t say I’ve always been neutral, fair, or entirely reasonable. (Partly reasonable, sure, but not always entirely.)

Frankly, I look forward to reconnecting with some friends and acquaintances from whom I’ve distanced myself in recent months. This is the first time I’ve ever had the ability to block a friend’s politically charged status updates from appearing in my Facebook newsfeed — but it’s also the first time I’ve ever felt the need to do so. I don’t mind talking with friends about politics, but I do mind when they or I or all of us can’t do so in reasonable terms, without condescension or patronizing tones.

So here’s to Wednesday morning. Here’s hoping we’ll give some thought as to how we’ve behaved this election season and apologize as needed.

About C. Ryan Knight

C. Ryan Knight teaches English at Randolph Community College in Asheboro, NC, and he lives with his wife outside Greensboro, NC.
Email: knight.cr@gmail.com


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