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Whoever the next President is, we can solve our own problems

Published 5:59am Wednesday, September 12, 2012

For a long time, Franklin County and other pockets of rural North Alabama had historically been known as Democratic hotbeds.

Much of that is credited to the older generation who saw firsthand the positive effects of many of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal directly applied in Northwest Alabama through the Tennessee Valley Authority.

However as a generation or two has passed, the political climate in our area of the country has changed significantly. Individual responsibility and initiative have replaced government involvement as values more cherished, which has naturally pushed Franklin County and other areas of rural Alabama into existing more as Republican territory.

Political evolution happens naturally as times change, but one change in that atmosphere over the past decade has been rather unfortunate. This change has become rapidly apparent in the language and message portrayed leading up to our next Presidential election. As I watched the Republican Convention, I was surprised at the divisiveness and vitriol employed by Republican officials in promoting Gov. Romney over President Obama.

Disagreement in policy is natural and is in fact one of the things that makes our country great.  Having a multitude of opinion is an essential part of our democracy. However, that near hatred for the other side and a message of doom and gloom seemed to be the entire platform communicated at the Republican Convention.

I try my best to be an open-minded voter, and I really wanted to hear specifics on the Romney platform when it came to areas such as foreign policy. However, this important aspect of the Presidency was barely mentioned. That time was instead utilized with divisive language that furthers the “us versus them” mentality that has become far too prominent on both sides in the past decade of political shift.

Platform differences aside, the Democratic message was clearly delivered far more respectfully.  Both Presidents Clinton and Obama even took the time to go out of their way to praise initiatives spearheaded by the most recent President Bush. In many respects, both the former and current President were downright respectful of the other party. There were light jabs made, but the majority of their time on stage was spent intelligently discussing specific plans to move our country forward.

As someone who has personally become somewhat distanced from our political process due to petty division in recent years, this is something that I greatly appreciated.

When President Obama gave his speech accepting the Democratic nomination, one thing became clear to me. The hope and change that he talked about four years ago aren’t qualities or results that can be realistically expected as a deliverable by a single man, especially in the face of a brick wall thrown up by the other side out of political spite. Instead, any given man or woman can inspire that hope and change out of each of us as American citizens. Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, and Clinton were all able to effectively do this.

Perhaps it’s time that each of us, as part of our individual responsibility, stopped looking to the supposed omnipresence of our President. President Kennedy could not change the price of a gallon of gas at will, but he instead implored each of us to put forth our best efforts in service to our county.

Many of our predecessors served us and even our future generations by building infrastructure in this manner, even right here at home in Franklin County. TVA projects such as the dams between Russsellville and Red Bay are direct evidence of this. In that time of Depression, we were all able to work together to form a better economy and society. I often wonder if we would still be able to pull together in this fashion if our Great Recession had been any deeper.

No matter which candidate wins in November, one of the biggest challenges our next President will face will be closing this gap and resolving the deep political and social separation brought upon our country by the type of alienating message both sides are often guilty of promoting.

But again, we cannot rely on any one man or woman to solve all of our problem or give us all the answers. It’s up to us as citizens of Franklin County, Alabama, and our country to do our part in collectively solving them for ourselves as well.

 

Daniel Horton

Russellville

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