What will voters remember most about the 2016 political season, both nationally and on Kauai, I wonder?
Without a doubt, this has been one of the most divisive, bitter and potentially destructive presidential elections our country has ever seen.
Divisive because voters have split into distinct camps, each devoted and decidedly loyal to their candidate of choice. It is divisive because many are also totally (and even vehemently) opposed to the other candidate and their supporters.
It is bitter because charges, counter-charges, allegations and accusations have reached new lows that border on the ridiculous, because they have absolutely no relevance to the crucial issues facing our country today.
It is potentially destructive because the security and validity of the electoral system our country has believed in and followed for generations is now being questioned.
This entire campaign would make a great movie (and probably will someday) because political history has been made in so many ways. Sadly though, many of the moments that made history in 2016 are nothing anyone should be proud of or try to claim credit for.
I learned long ago that discussing individual candidates is never a good idea. Such discussions often pit friend against friend and drive wedges into families. I have a hard time understanding how vicious people can get in the name of politics.
On Facebook, so many people have been “unfriended” because they either posted a negative opinion about one candidate or expressed support for his or her opponent.
I firmly believe that everyone has the right to support the candidate they feel will do the best job for the country. But I also believe that no one has the right to attack someone just because he or she does not agree with their choice.
Personally, I liked how one undecided voter described himself after the final presidential debate. “I am, largely, politically apathetic,” he said.
That is me. The actions of both presidential contenders over the past year have at times nearly extinguished any spark of interest, enthusiasm or concern in me I may have had for either of them.
On the local level, however, I did feel a lot better about Kauai politics after I read The Garden Island’s question-and-answer interview with 13 County Council candidates in Thursday’s paper.
The answers, especially from the first-time candidates, were refreshing. They showed the same enthusiasm and earnestness I remember other first-timers exhibiting years ago in long-ago County Council races.
I did smile a little at the rhetoric some used to convey their message. Many of the ideas and suggestions they proposed were not new; they had been implemented before by other businesses, other councils.
But I was impressed by the effort the newcomers made to do their homework and present their positions logically and sensibly.
I also felt many of the incumbents also did a good job on their answers. Most demonstrated that experience has definite advantages and that knowledge gained “on the job” can be invaluable.
I suggest anyone who wants to get a good idea of where the County Council candidates are coming from take the time to go back and read the article in Thursday’s TGI.
A last note on the presidential election. I came across a quote by an organization called “Common Cause,” that was shared on Faceook and picked up by countless people.
It starts out saying where Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will be, no matter who wins the electio,n and it ends with following words I feel we should all take to heart:
“WE as a UNITED people with sound moral, values and ethics can make his country whatever we want. Vote for whomever you want, but remember WE are the ones that shape our communities, not them.”
Rita De Silva is a former editor of The Garden Island and a Kapaa resident.