Lately, I'm remembering the line in "Terms of Endearment" when Flap (Jeff Daniels) says to his mother-in-law (Shirley McLaine), "You always seem to forget your manners around me, Aurora.""You're not special enough to overcome a bad marriage" is my absolute favorite movie line. But that's for another time.
I think we've forgotten our manners this election. And in general.
Why is it necessary to attack a candidate's family? Or to print T-shirts describing a candidate in vulgar s*xual slang? Or to puff up and bellow, "Well, if So-and-So is elected, I'm leaving the country." Or to extend one's middle finger at a candidate's supporters?
We are Americans.
We are not citizens of some sweltering banana republic where every pseudo-election galvanizes the rabid zealots before the reprisals begin.
I am certainly not a bastion of political correctness. Nor do I preach "tolerance" when an action is fundamentally morally wrong. But we're Americans.
I don't have to agree with you about politics or religion or anything else. I just need to respect your right to have that opinion - no matter how wrong I think it is. I may not like what you believe. I may warn my children against it. I may circle with friends and pray that you change. I may not want you in my home because of it. I may give money to an organization to fight it. But because I am an adult
- and an American
- I am not going to spit, print. wear or wave vile epitaphs about you personally, your family or your belief.
Some of the filth being slung around reminds me of my children as toddlers, so frustrated with their limited grasp of concepts and language that "poo poo head" was a favorite comeback. Are we toddlers, stumbling stiff-kneed in a world so intimidating we can't be polite or rational?
It's like we - as a nation - have somehow forgotten the mornings after
elections. No matter who wins or who loses, we are still Americans.
We will get up November 5 and be glad or mad about the outcome. We'll shower with the same soap and get dressed in the same clothes and eat the same breakfast. We'll wave to the same neighbors and ride the same buses and dock the same laptops. And soon, we'll again be voting in the same polling places. And later voting again
. And again.
Because this is America
, and we self-correct.
We don't always get it right the first time. Plus the world around us changes. Technology. The nature of terrorism. Balancing our needs with those of others. But that's okay. We can change our laws - and our lawmakers - as times require.
We make those changes peacefully. No riots. No reprisals. No fear of the voting booth. No having to leave the country.
And no need of name-calling. Or vulgarity. Or filth.
Because there's a morning after the election.
And it can't come too soon.