At the risk of sounding like a grumpy codger yearning for the days of yesteryear, I must admit how much I miss the days of decency in our political discourse.
It’s apparent that the days where we all got along are over. To be honest, the days when we were able to sit in a room, have important discussions, and leave with a plan to move forward are also gone.
Anyone who willingly and bravely turns to any of the news channels becomes instantly aware of the issue our country faces with common decency. When on Fox News, Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity are comfortable openly berating, oftentimes personally, any individual associated with the Biden presidency. Likewise, MSNBC can spin topics with the best of them. Regardless of which station you happen to prefer, you are certainly privy to the polarization of our country and the draining of decency.
I’m not sure when the country started to lose the ability to be decent with one another. Maybe it was during the Clarence Thomas confirmation that drove a wedge between the political parties. It could have possibly been the Clinton impeachment that pitted the political parties against each other once again. President Obama made a concerted effort at repairing the damage. Former President Trump certainly did nothing to help remedy any of the division.
For years, I wanted to believe that the ugliness that is partnered with national politics was separate with how we operate in Maury County. Although I’ve largely been treated with grace and class by leading Republicans in the county, the crass nature of this last presidential election impacted all reaches of the country, including Maury County.
In case there was any wonder, I volunteered for numerous campaigns, both locally and nationally. One of those campaigns was Joe Biden’s, which I was proud to do.
A small, yet dedicated, group of Biden volunteers had a game-plan and executed it well throughout Maury County. There were no illusions regarding the electoral realities in a county such as ours, but we continued to try and put forth a distinct effort. Whether it was campaign signs, billboards, mailers, or anything similar, we were all-in to represent our nominee and eventual president.
In truth, I was expecting hesitancy and even hateful rhetoric now-and-then. My perception was off by a fair amount and we encountered hate around nearly every turn. The experience I encountered in my home county is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
While in the town of Fly, we were staking an eight-foot sign that a local farmer purchased and asked we place at an intersection near his house. A passer-by was not very supportive and thought he’d express himself without much class. A similar instance occurred in Mynder’s right next to the community center. The man thought it necessary to shout expletives from the stoop of his manufactured home a few feet away. Another incident with someone setting a Biden sign on fire in a family’s front yard also occurred on Pulaski Highway. These instances are a few abbreviated examples of several situations that happened here in the county.
This should be a full stop. What happened to our community?
If we all voted the same, we would become the literal equivalent of the Russian oligarchy or Chinese Communist Party that we, as Americans, are firmly against. We need to be different and we need to possess different political values in order to fully embrace the idea of the United States.
With these differences, there’s no need for us to be nasty to one another. No one is going to change their opinion by being yelled at and accosted.
We cannot control the actions of others, but we can surely lead by example. With this in mind, set the example and treat people kindly. We’re all Americans.
Seth James Campbell is from Columbia, Tennessee and is an educator. He also runs Hound Dog Holler Animal Rescue. He has degrees from Columbia State Community College, University of Tennessee, and Trevecca Nazarene University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.