By Lisa Earle McLeod www.forgetperfect.com
Strap on your engines, and let the mudslinging begin. The fight for the oval office has begun.
Is it just me, or are you, too, tired of all the grandstanding? During the last round of finger pointing, I watched as half the country convinced themselves that the other half were selfish, soulless nuts. I’m embarrassed to admit that the negative campaigning worked on me as well. I was often swept into the tide of self-righteousness along with everybody else.
This time, I’ve made a vow to do better. Much like an alcoholic who needs to stay out of bars during recovery, I realize that I’ve got to set some boundaries for myself before I’m faced with temptation.
So I’ve established a three-step program to keep from falling into the abyss. I’m putting the politicos on notice: I’m not as addicted as you think I am. I’m committed to my recovery, and if the politicians love me as much as they say they do, they’ll stand up to become a sponsor in the program.
Step One: I commit to hope instead of fear. The drug of fear and hate has left us with a global hangover that would make Jimi Hendrix puke. I’m tired of assuming that everyone who disagrees with me is an evil nut. If I want somebody to tell me I’m right about everything, I’ll call my mother. Rather than searching for a fix from my political clone, I’d rather have a leader who’s a little smarter than I am, someone intelligent enough to see all sides of an issue and bring us together around the values we share. I want someone who understands that good ideas aren’t limited to one side of the fence or globe. I want someone who knows that disagreement isn’t dissension; it’s how you create the best solution. I’m ready to be inspired by a vision about what we can be, instead of cowering in fear because of what we’re not.
Step Two: I commit to the we, not just the me. I’ll admit it — I’m selfish. When a politician tells me that I should pay less in taxes and that other people’s problems don’t have anything to do with me, it reinforces my bad behavior. That’s why I’m looking for a leader to show me the consequences of our collective actions, someone to remind me that the Muslim boy who watched his grandmother’s house blown to smithereens, and the crack baby abandoned by a teen ghetto mom, and the AIDS orphan in Africa, aren’t just humanitarian issues, they’re safety issues. If left unchecked, these are the very people who might do my children harm. I may feel better when I blame them or ignore them, but I need someone with a big world vision to connect the dots.
Step Three: I commit to the future, not just four years. It’s time to get sober. Sure, I could spend four more years partying in the streets with my middle class riches. But where would I be if Thomas Jefferson had stuck to making wine? Our forefathers didn’t set up a government to make things easy or to get their selves re-elected. They set up a system to make life better for generations to come. They weren’t using opinion polls to tell them what their constituents wanted to hear today. They looked years down the pike and called upon their fellow citizens to put their great grandchildren’s interest ahead of their own.
I know it’s a lot to expect politicians to take the high ground when we’ve responded so well to getting down and dirty. But I’ve taken a look in the mirror, and I don’t like how I feel about myself or other people when I’m angry and afraid. I want an American political process that challenges me to follow my best impulses rather than catering to my worst ones.
My name is Lisa, I’m a recovering voter, and I’m ready for a better life.
Lisa Earle McLeod is a nationally recognized speaker and the author of “Forget Perfect” and “Finding Grace When You Can’t Even Find Clean Underwear.” Contact her or join her interactive blog at www.ForgetPerfect.com. .
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