One of the more complicated bits when it comes to teaching American history to students is that you have to address politics. Now mud-flinging and trash-talking is as old as time, much to my delight and chagrin. On one hand we can say that this is the way it is. On the other hand, it’s dead miserable to try to change things when people think they are set in stone.
Lately I’ve been working on the importance of knowing both sides of the issue, and becoming familiar with ALL the candidates and their viewpoints. What I hear is, “I hate (insert name here)!” It’s emphatic and full of emotion. Yet, when asked why, the answer is almost ALWAYS tied to the political party. It’s not about real knowledge of a candidate’s position on topics, or even whether a candidate can deliver on his promise. It’s about the party itself, which means really, it’s about ego or identity.
The tragic part of this is that we should be so involved in all candidates that, win or lose, we feel, as citizens, we have, if not the best person for the job, at least a damned good competent person for the job. Instead, we allow the other party to put forth a candidate we would be horrified to have as a president, to whom we will show great disrespect. How awful is that? The idea being if we lose, then we REALLY lose. What does that do for our country and its well-being?
I’m working on teaching students to be involved citizens in life. I want them to have a vested interest in WHOEVER becomes president, knowing that their 2nd place candidate is at least, in their minds, more than competent for the position. However, if we’re going to continue putting out people merely with the idea of “beating” the other person, then we deserve to go down with the ship. After all, it’s no longer about leadership, it’s about winning.
And trust me, no one wins with that attitude.