Brice L. Aikens
As Election Day draws near, candidates from both sides of the political aisle along with pundits declare this election is perhaps the “most important” election of our lives. It seems that line has been delivered as frequently as kissing a baby (pre-COVID) on the campaign trail, yet here we are anxious to see where the chips will fall by Tuesday evening.
Politics has become more and more of a team sport this century than the act of civic duty. Despite this week’s outcome, discourse and distrust will continue as the new norm in the political vernacular. Waiting for politicians to not play “team politics” is waiting for the fox to declare himself a vegan as he enters the henhouse.
The thing about team politics is it does not require anything other than wearing your particular jersey or hat and simply dismissing any objectivity or factual significance of the opposition. When the focus is only on your team you don’t look at policy that separates candidates, but only hear the rhetoric that aligns with the team colors.
In addition, the silence from senior party leaders and refusal to denounce extreme rhetoric also co-signs and gives the green light of approval to the constituents. There used to be a time where the character and track record of those at the top of the ticket mattered.
There will always be a base that will not change their position despite the facts staring them in their face. This election is not simply about electing those who will lead, but about what the barometer of leadership will be and what standards will we ask from those that lead.
A candidate that has nothing to offer of substance, or coherently articulate a legislative roadmap of what he or she intends to do if elected, should be scrutinized. Working across party lines used to be something one could be proud to run on, now it’s either a pipe dream or denounced as a sign of weakness.
And what about voter suppression?
The advancements at the ballot box in recent years can lull you into a false sense of security that the idea of voter suppression is a thing of the past. However, when you see political stunts such as arresting felons that registered to vote, not that they used a fictitious name or someone else’s identification to participate in democracy, but relied on misinformation, the message is clear.
It’s not about integrity of any process but intimidation. Those bullying tactics along with newly enacted voting laws leave many to feel that gains that have been painstakingly won will be torn asunder, and the clock rolled back, resigning one to the decision to “sit this one out” and not vote out of frustration and or fear.
The one thing that is certain is that elections will cause one of two actions: The choice to go backwards or the choice to move into a different direction. That choice is up to the voter.
Brice L. Aikens, a native of Tallahassee, FL., is a board-certified criminal trial lawyer, practicing criminal defense and personal injury. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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