2008 was a traumatic year for me. During that election season the veneer of civility was ripped off American politics and society. Republicans and Democrats showcased our worst fears to the world. As a brown person in a black and white polarized political sphere, I wanted to run and hide.
Conservatives were afraid that with a black president their interests would not be represented.
Liberals were afraid that another election would be stolen by the electoral college.
Perhaps there is no way to encourage a true democracy in a two party system. Maybe the only outcome is partisanship.
In our fear, we turned on each other. There’s a reason it’s called the White House some t-shirts said. Obama supporters were accused of resorting to race to end any argument. Social media made it worse: people, my friends, on Facebook and Twitter revealed how deep the divide was. We held our collective breath.
When the young Obama family addressed the nation from Grant Park, I gave a sigh of relief. The vitriol was over. He proved that yes, a determined group of people could make voting history. We all went back to our daily lives, smiling, pretending as though the racial, social, and fiscal concerns we had painted onto the two candidates had vanished.
Reading my Twitter stream in 2012, I’m in time warp. Only this time the rhetoric has – incredibly – increased in viciousness. What’s our boy president done today? Someone from a self-identified rightist group tweeted. I’ll spare your our exchange. The fact that the person used ‘boy’ a term with historical significance dating back to slavery and lasting into the Jim Crow era to describe a sitting president confirmed for me that we are not finished with the underlying issues of the first presidential campaign.
I don’t mind talking about issues — I want to talk about the issues. Let’s talk about drone strikes or bailing out banks or why Guantanamo is still open.
Let’s stop insulting one another. Because like or not, whether it’s Romney or Obama on November 6th, on Wednesday, November 7th, we all still have to live together.