Despite this reality, we all are beginning to formulate positions as it relates to possible candidates for this Fall's General Election. Throughout this past couple of weeks, I have had quite a few former students contact me to discuss the candidates. In replying, I give my summary run-down on the current candidates' positions on matters ranging from domestic to foreign affairs. I also remind many of those asking that voters like me, have no reason to conclude on whom to support because those like me, must wait to even find out who wins their respective Party's nomination. To think otherwise is a huge waste of time (unless speculation is seen as some sort of sport).
But, what if members of your social circle begin to question your political beliefs? What if they begin to pressure others to openly declare whom they support for political office? What if those surrounding you push so hard to learn your thoughts on the election that you actually begin to feel threatened if you do not agree with them? Kind of like the hyenas surrounding another animal. A "Pack Mentality" seems to take over and the individual facing them becomes the victim of pressure - as if you are surrounded by bullies. And this is exactly why the United States went to the secret "Australian Ballot" during the Progressive Era - to halt the corrosive and corrupted system that allowed others to wield undue pressure onto those voting - to influence others not with persuasion, but through collective humiliation and mental stress. Nothing speaks more "American" than understanding that each citizen has a right to freely vote without coercion from others. Except this is not what happened yesterday to my wife. Yesterday, "Ugly Americans" literally surrounded her with their views and attempted to force her to explain how she is voting. Not only that, but they also demanded to know why she would be supporting a candidate and how I would be voting - verbalizing an assumption that as her husband, I have already determined how I was voting (even though I cannot vote in the Florida primary).
And this is how we have advanced in our political discourse - by going backwards in time so that others can use peer pressure to humiliate or coerce another's political positions? And these folks think their positions are so absolutely correct that they eliminate any chance for opposition. But where would our great nation be without compromise? The Framers of the Constitution believed in pitting "factions" against each other in an effort to reach a compromise to benefit all. It's called pluralism because it recognizes that there are multiple views, life experiences, biases and attitudes. The FRAMERS believed in this concept. Unfortunately, those pressuring others DO NOT. And in not doing so, they are hardly acting "American." Anyone who pressures another in an effort to unduly influence their votes is not a Patriot. They are nothing different than a member of an authoritative regime that demands compliance with their "Company Line." Anyone that engages in such actions, bullying others - owes their victims an apology. Political discourse is healthy, political harassment is not.
As Founder and Framer Alexander Hamilton once wrote; "There are seasons in every country when noise and impudence pass current for worth; and in popular commotions especially, the clamors of interested and factious men are often mistaken for patriotism." Can we please quiet the noise so democracy can thrive? Can we please quiet the clamorous, impudent and factious bullies? Have a great week!