“My Distinguished Opponent”

16 Sep

Last night Rachel Maddow interviewed past president Jimmy Carter, which I found to be a breath of fresh air and sanity in our modern political circus. A number of things about the interview struck me but what stood out most was that Carter came from an era when politicians referred to their running mates as “my distinguished opponent” with some modicum of respect. I actually remember those days. I was a little tyke but I remember when the men in suits at the podium acted like human beings even if they looked mildly annoyed with one another. Yes, kids pick up on more than we give them credit for.

It was also astonishing to hear that in both of his campaigns (and the campaigns of his “distinguished opponents”) the only money raised for the campaigns came from the little box tax payers checked off if they wanted to donate $2-$3 dollars to the presidential campaign fund. There was no outside money raised in those days.

When I was a little girl I watched movies and television shows from the 50’s and wished things were like they were on “Happy Days” with the Fonz. I had an overly simplistic view of life and figured those days must have been better than the 70’s, the decade of my childhood. Now I watch films and shows from the 70’s and think, “Things were so much simpler back then.”

Nostalgia is a slippery slope. However, I acknowledge that politics has changed for the worse. The horrendous bipartisan hostility that currently exists, not only in government but in the general public, is destroying our nation. In last night’s interview Carter said that during his administration people voted against their party lines all the time.

I remember those times. I also remember being in high school classes where everyone had to argue both sides of gun control bills and abortion legislation. Believe it or not, my peers and I could present intellectual positions for both sides regardless of our inner convictions and we could do it without clobbering anyone.

My aunt lives in Colonial Williamsburg. Recently she said that if our founding fathers were alive they would be rolling over in their graves at the way we conduct ourselves. Despite disagreements, the Colonists were able to found a nation, draft up a Constitution and sign a Declaration of Independence.

As the interview came to a close, Maddow asked Carter his thoughts about the role of religion in political platforms. Carter, who is a very devout Christian claimed that it is unconstitutional to keep anyone out of politics based on his or her religious beliefs and that this goes counter to the way our government was designed. We are not a Christian nation.


2 Responses to ““My Distinguished Opponent””

  1. Kevin Brangwynne September 16, 2011 at 3:37 pm #

    I love the point you’re making here Lise and I totally agree. You’re a very bright person and I love getting your perspective on things. There were a couple of lines in this post that made me chuckle though…

    – “donate $2-$3 dollars to the presidential campaign ***fun.***” Probably a typo, but appropriate!

    – “if our founding fathers were alive they would be rolling over in their graves” I’d hope they wouldn’t be in their graves were they still alive!

    I do so dislike the smear campaigns and the nasty way that people act when they are on the opposing side of an issue. I miss civility! I guess all we can do is practice it in our own lives and hope that it influences others, though I haven’t found that be all that effective. God help us!

  2. lisesletters September 16, 2011 at 9:47 pm #

    That’s funny, Kevin. I wrote the post super early in the morning. I guess I needed a second cup of coffee! Thanks for your kind words.

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