Just for a minute, take a stroll down memory lane. Think back to the days of grade school and playing out on the playground during recess. Everyone can remember how small children of about 8 or 9 years of age handled their differences.
Maybe one kid gets upset over a classmate not sharing the swing. In retaliation that kid tells all of their friends that the ruthless swing-hogger is a meanie who stinks, thus spreading lies about the kid. This immature action is expected from children of such a young age. Hopefully, as they grow older, they learn to handle disagreements in a more respectable manner.
However, the state of politics today seems to more closely resemble a grade school playground than it does actual informed and constructive debate.
In late November, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, told a radio audience, "This administration sent planes and bombs and support to oust Moammar Qaddafi so that al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood could take over Libya." So, according to Gohmert, President Barack Obama, the president who authorized the assassination al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, also wanted to aid that very same terrorist organization in taking over Libya.
This is just one of many ridiculous claims without any factual basis that have come from the nation's politicians and talking heads in the last few years.
We have heard that Obama is Muslim, that his real father was Frank Marshall Davis, that he was born in Kenya, that he faked his birth certificate, that he caused the BP oil spill, and that he spiked the jobs report.
We have heard that rape cannot result in pregnancy, that global warming is a myth, that evolution is myth, that the attacks on 9/11 were a conspiracy, that FEMA is creating concentration camps, that hurricane Sandy was caused by gay marriage. The list goes on and on of preposterous claims made simply to misguide voters and create ridiculous uproar.
All these conspiracy theories provide is a distraction from the issues that matter. All they do is perpetuate the constant "blue team versus red team" kind of antics currently driving our political parties.
Is it wrong to disagree with the president or to disagree with members of an opposing party? No, it is not. In fact, that is what makes American government great.
There are two political parties, two sets of ideas and beliefs, and when the two come together, have informed debate over the real issues and how to best govern the nation, actual solutions can arise. Through thoughtful discussion and through compromise, elected officials can draw up the best possible ideas for legislation.
However, instead of debating how best to tackle the fiscal cliff, instead of proposing real solutions to foreign policy in the middle east, many politicians and pundits continue to focus on spreading inaccurate and nonsensical claims to rile up the public. They focus on continuing the trend of a divided nation where little will ever get accomplished.
The election is over. While everyone might not be thrilled about who ended up in office and who didn't, the decision is over. Continuing this cloud of antagonization against elected officials one does not like will not accomplish anything.
Now is the time to move forward and work together instead of staunchly opposing anything other than one’s own ideas. It is the responsibility of congressmen to work with the members across the aisle.
It is time that citizens demanded more from the people they elect. It is time to demand that elected officials focus on facts and not conspiracy theories. It is time to end this demonization of bipartisanship. It is time to stop fighting for what best serves one party, and instead what best serves the country. It is time to bring informed debate and collaboration back to Congress.
As John F. Kennedy stated at the Loyola College alumni banquet in February 1958, "Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future."