This gives me no pleasure

The White House is currently battling against several nasty scandals that have pretty much derailed their agenda. It should be no secret by now that I’m not a fan of this president’s ideas and politics. But I’m not enjoying this at all. I’m surprised I’m not, as I’ve suspected some of this stuff was not beyond them for some time. But in spite of it all, I take no joy in being proven not unduly pessimistic.

Stuff like this will poison the well for a long time to come. It will also embolden those who are looking for any excuse to justify their undisciplined behavior and ill-mannered attacks. No president or government should be immune from scrutiny and criticism, but neither should they be subjected to ad hominem attacks and vitriolic disrespect. Granted, that line was crossed, and crossed repeatedly a long time ago, but that doesn’t excuse it.

How many times have we heard candidates promise to “restore dignity, visibility, and accountability to the office”? How many times have they actually delivered? This is not a partisan issue–both sides are guilty.

And yet what are we supposed to do? In the current environment what could possibly entice the honest and upright to pursue public office when the attempt will subject their families and friends to the most vile treatment conceivable? I discussed this recently with a friend on social media, and we both agreed just throwing our hands up in the air is not the answer.

I know it’s a lot to ask, but next election cycle when both parties go into their default mode of trying to paint their opponent in the worst light possible, can we try being a little less quick to believe? No one is ever as bad as their opponents claim, nor as good as their supporters promise. They are, more often than not, simply human beings who are as vulnerable to the corruptive power of power as the next man. They will make mistakes. They will do stupid things. They will make decisions that are unpopular with a large portion of the public. But they will almost never be as terrible as their opponents want us to think.

When we listen to such hooey we reward that behavior and encourage more of the same. Let’s break the cycle, and next time someone tries to convince us the very devil himself has run for office, let’s step back and question–and insist on proof–rather than simply accepting it because it plays to our own suspicions and biases. Let’s think for ourselves, and think twice before speaking.

Then think even more before actually voting.

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