Elections lacking level discussionsBy Elliot Bell | 11/13/2014 12:28am
Our political system is toxic. Like an armadillo baking on the hot asphalt in the summer sun, the system has been hit and run over, and its heart is decaying in front of our eyes. And much like the cars drifting past without a second glance, we are ignoring it, loathing even the sight of another piece of road kill we now know as an election.
We treat the first Tuesday in November every two years like a group therapy session. Individuals (and not very many at that) travel to their local polling places and cast angry votes, not so much for a particular candidate as they are against another. Voters pull the proverbial lever and with a cathartic sigh say, “Boy that felt good. He/she sure stands for my issues.” And they slink back to their jobs and their homes and their families, waiting for the next election’s attack ads, sound bites and pre-chewed political nourishment sure to keep them fed right through to the next Election Day.
Issues? What issues? Today’s elections are devoid of substantive discussion. For example, Alabama is barreling toward an inevitable budget crisis in the amount of an estimated $200 million, but that issue was nowhere to be found in the most recent election. Instead, campaigns turned up the anger and distrust in voters’ minds, and those who turned out overwhelmingly voted not for a particular candidate as much as they did against the forces fueling their red faces, clenched fists and gnashing teeth.
If we continue down this angry path where we look not at ways to improve our communities but instead at ways to tear down the other side, our political system will most surely continue to rot in the hot sun. It will bloat with misguided fury. It will grow darker with mudslinging and personal attacks. It will wither like a worm-ravaged apple on a gnarled branch.
It’s time for all of us to set aside our anger or at the very least to find other outlets of release. Go play with your kids. Go walk along your city streets. Go find a piece of Alabama you love. Remember why you moved here. Remember why you live here. And like all resourceful Alabamians should, pull your car over to the side of the road, scoop that armadillo up, and turn it into a delicious stew. It’s time to wake up and transform our political system from its toxic state into a delicious discussion of the issues we will inevitably face. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to each other. We owe it to the state we all love.
Elliot Bell is a second-year law student.