Elections should not be personal

Published 3:57 pm Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Yes, that headline might be hard for some to stomach.

I have been fortunate to meet several elected officials and the best of them always say “don’t take it personally.”

Well that is easier said than done.

While I have never had the urge to punch someone out on the floor of the House, I can honestly say that there are moments in politics where it is hard to keep the heart from racing just a bit.

During this current election cycle, I have seen and heard some things that just want to make you say “step back and take a breath before you allow this to become personal.”

When elections become more about personalities and less about the issues, we as citizens have lost out regardless of the outcome.

Elect is defined by Webster’s as “the process of choosing for an office.”

Sounds simple enough, but of course, we all know it is much more complicated.

There are personalities and issues that we are all dearly passionate about.

The problem is that these passions have overridden the need for logical debate about the issues.

While I do not know when or where elections became so personal, I do know that the anger over personalities has ensured that the debate of issues has been lost in the fight over process.

It shouldn’t be this way, and it needs to change.

Whether you are running for President of the United States or for municipal city council, it is time to elevate the debate in our elections.

I have read several political online discussions recently and participated in a candidate forum on behalf of Senator John McCain’s campaign.

After listening to many of the debates during this cycle, I was shocked at the amount of anger currently overwhelming our political process.

It wasn’t so much anger at a particular issue but more of a hatred of a particular political candidate.

During the presidential candidate forum, I could not get over how many people, from both political parties, had so much personal hatred for the other candidate.

I could not help but think, “How are any of these comments bringing about a better discussion of the problems in our state or country?”

Now, I am not so nave as to believe that political attacks should not take place in politics. In fact, I believe they should; they just need to focus more on political differences in the arena as opposed to personal animosities.

Elections are a great competition of opposing ideologies. Everyone should all take part in that debate, and when it is over, we should work to make those debates continue in the operation of government.

Though it’s not easy, sometimes it is important to remember that it’s not personal. Elections are a contact sport, but in the end it is still a battle of ideas and not personal animosities.

Let’s keep the debates going and promote the kind of political discourse we all deserve.

Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) is a state representative serving District 49.