The Menacing Scowl of Our Politics

It was a candidates’ night, and I was an observer. Not a completely unbiased one–but one willing to look objectively and offer–observations.
On one side sat two candidates vying for the nomination to a legislative seat. She brought a wealth of knowledge about farms and schools. He brought insight about business and law. They both had good ideas. She conveyed hers well. He delivered his in a Kennedyesque style with accompanying vigor.
I didn’t see them shake hands at the end–but I’d be surprised to hear they didn’t.
On the other side of the platform sat two others–vying for the nomination to a different legislative seat. He brought experience as a lawyer. She’d been a nurse before being elected to a lower legislative office a few years ago.
There was a tension between them not apparent on the other side of the room.
At one point, I wanted to tell her to stop shaking her foot, her only occasional signal of nerves or frustration. He also shook his foot at times. But he was more than nervous. He was angry. He had an almost perpetual scowl on his face.
When the time came for closing statements, she went first. She outlined her views clearly. Here in central Pennsylvania, that means we learned her perspective on guns, abortion, and taxes, among other things. She pointed out her long service to other candidates who uphold these views. And she pointed out her opponent’s affiliation with the opposition party in the past.
His scowl deepened.
His closing was a response in anger rather than an explanation of his views. There was to be no handshake on this side of the room.
We are a country currently seeking a shift from career politicians to citizen politicians.
A shift that, if we are successful, will take us to a place of government  “for the people” rather than “for the perks and the pensions.” And that shift to something closer to the intentions of our founding fathers is a good thing.
But one thing professional politicians maintained was grace and self-control–at least in public. At the end of a robust debate, they could shake hands.
Even if they really didn’t like the other person. Even if they didn’t really want to. Still, they did it. After all, cameras were watching. Voters were watching.
That’s what it takes to reach across the aisle today and govern. It’s the ability to do battle, to go to the floor for a cause, and then go to lunch with the opposition. For the next time, you may be on the same side.
It’s a lesson we teach children at the end of Little League, Peewee football, and youth hockey and soccer games. Win or lose, children line up to shake hands.
It should be the least we expect from the citizen politician.


Photo Credit: Pixabay

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21 Replies to “The Menacing Scowl of Our Politics”

  1. It’s so hard not to take thing personally that we feel truly impact us personally. Differences in opinions are not always embraced or respected. A wonderful reminder to accept all views even those that differ radically from our own…God requires love at all times. Even when we do not feel like it.

  2. Cunning as a fox but gentle as a dove, I’m still learning to master this one.
    A difficult vocation and even more difficult to stay true in.
    Despite all this, you are right Nancy it should never become personal.
    “That’s what it takes to reach across the aisle today and govern. It’s the ability to do battle, to go to the floor for a cause, and then go to lunch with the opposition.” Power under control is a rare thing indeed.
    Nicely done.

  3. I came out of the political world, so I really relate to this. I was skewered for daring to talk to “the other side” about issues and itbreally made me sad. People isolate away from anybody with a differing view when it comes to politics, so it’s no wonder our world is in such a mess. At the end of the day, we are all God’s creations. We need to be able to talk through our differences and show love to those with different views than our own.
    Great article Nancy!

  4. Politics is such a touchy subject these days because it seems everyone wants you to agree with them, yet they aren’t willing to agree with you. Or at least listen. This was a great reminder that we need to at least listen. Nobody will be convinced to change their mind when anger rules.

  5. Good read. Unity and peace are seldom experienced in politics and our world today. It’s good when people can agree to disagree, to seek unity above being right all the time. We can learn a lot from our opponents and they can learn from us. Just because we disagree, doesn’t mean each doesn’t bring some value to the table.

  6. The way it’s done these days, I truly believe you need to be called before venturing into politics. Only by God’s grace! Thanks for sharing, Nancy. Blessings to you.

  7. Good article , Nancy. I’m of an age when I remember how politics used to be. Oh there was nastiness, but now we’ve seen to have gone extra with our nastiness . No one and nothing is off limits and people are offended by every little thing. It didn’t used to be this way. I pray for this country and this world. That’s the only thing that will keep us sane in a sea of cray cray .

    1. Hi Sportsdiva,
      I believe I am of that age as well. I’ve known all kinds of pols. Even the ones who were shady and beyond showed class and kindness–especially out in public. It doesn’t mean we want the shady ones in office. But we need the wise ones who can handle themselves well and have integrity.

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