It has been an interesting campaign.
We had Hillary vs. Obama vs. Edwards and all the rest that dropped like flies early on. It seemed that this campaign to choose one versus another would last for ever.
We got sick and tired or the drama, we suffered from political exhaustion, but like a train wreck, we were not able to pull ourselves away from it.
We kept a watchful eye and intent ears. We discussed it long after the talking heads stopped giving their assessments, and in fact, we became our own talking heads.
It was exciting and it made us tune in to the issues that truly affect our lives; remember "is the economy, stupid"? and paying attention to who was behind the housing market fall out, the rising cost of gasoline, and who was for something one moment and against it the next? Who was pandering to special interests and who was in tune with the average working stiffs?.
Oh yes! it was fun.
Now it is not so much fun. It is dirtier than ever, deception abounds and we are supposed to take it and accept it because we don't know any better.
The distractions are worthy of a cheesy sitcom or television melodrama that has no substance, but just like the aforementioned train wreck, we can't pull away from it.
We must know if Palin's youngest is hers or not. We must explore footage from YouTube because she won't answer unprepared and unscripted questions.
We love the mystery.
We flock to every bit of non-important news and discuss them as if they were actually relevant to our lives. We have in fact, welcomed the distraction so we don't really have to face the ugly reality that has become our economy.
The fact is that you and I know that these issues are not important.
Whether that is her kid or their daughters, whether the youngsters get married or not, whether she is a religiously obsessed individual who believes in the End of Days (and is coming soon, they say) or is using religious views as a way to promote her ambitions in life is irrelevant.
Once again, we are caught in the distraction game, the "don't pay attention to the man behind the curtain" and it works beautifully. No one has any reason to discuss issues when distractions are so very effective.
What I wish we all did, and I hope I am not alone in this, is to take a breather and two steps back and get back to the real basics that affect our lives.
If you are a Republican, Democrat, Independent, Atheist, Religious, Agnostic, Female or Male, should be irrelevant to the purpose of this article. What is important is how are you doing?
Yes, in all of this, no one is asking you: "How are you doing?", right now. At this moment.
Is your checkbook on life support? Are your kids schools so overcrowded and underfunded that instead of an institution of learning, the place and their rules resemble a prison yard? How is your mom and your dad? are they doing okay? Have their medical bills (or yours for that matter) turned their 401K into a 101?
How secure is your position with your company? Do you cringe when you have to put gas and buy groceries? Do you feel trapped in a situation where you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel?
And just as important: Do you really think that the current political distractions have anything to do with how your life is going? Are you living the dream or surviving a nightmare?
My Democrat neighbors are stressed out over making ends meet and want justice, they want Bush impeached, they want Chaney and Rove in prison, they want people to pay for their actions and to be held accountable for crimes against our Nation.
My Republican friends are depressed by the state of the economy and their shrinking retirement accounts; their American Dream (which is the same as the other party, by the way) is now a nightmare. They are ashamed of having voted for Bush, but most importantly, they feel betrayed by their own party and truly hurt that they had been used to serve someone else's purposes.
My Republican family members are not voting in this election, they feel the betrayal to the core and are insulted by the assumption that their religious beliefs should be used as a commodity.
They will be the first ones to tell you that they are not stupid people and resent being lumped in with those they perceived as being so; the ones who latch on to the political slogans with no substance, the ones that are so single minded that can only repeat slogans; the ones with tunnel vision that are incapable of seeing the full picture and look towards the future.
I thought my Republican friends and family deserved a moment of acknowledgment and recognition and not to be blamed for taking the action they thought was right at the time because they were afraid of another 9/11 and could not handle a change in leadership. Most importantly, they were loyal and that is an American quality worth its weight in gold.
On behalf of them, I stand to their defense, It is not their fault, they did not betray us, they were betrayed and their loyalty used against their best interest. They are still family, they are still friends, they are still neighbors and they are human beings who are paddling in the same boat everyone else is.
Humans make mistakes, we all do.
What we should not tolerate is being lied to and distracted with nonsense to serve the higher interest of companies that are American in name only. Their logos are just that, logos. 70% of their work force is in other countries, the only thing they value in America is the legal tender. Your legal tender. The one that is a mandatory contribution and you have no say on how it is spent and what company gets bailed out with YOUR legal tender.
No one is bailing you out and it is your money. We need answers, but in order to have those answers, we need to ask the tough questions.
We need to ask questions even if they are unpleasant and, most importantly, we need to unite for the common good: Our future and that of our loved ones.
Because the old saying: "Divide and conquer" has proven to be true and to have worked well in military tactics and politics.
When we hear: "We are number One!" We should ask: "At what?" Let them explain the bumper sticker and see if it makes sense
When we hear: "Americans have not sacrificed", we should reply: "Are you kidding?" and then list all the things you have done without just to make ends meet and if your spouse, your child, your sibling is serving on their 3rd tour in Iraq, you have every right to set them straight.
When the issue of race is brought up, you may want to ask "How does someone's skin impacts my ability to keep a roof over our heads, pay our bills and educate our children?"
When they start talking about who's baby is that, or who cheated on whom, we should just say: "it is none of my business and it has no relevance on what really matters in our lives".
It is up to us to end the distractions and refocus the conversation on what is important to you, to me, to our friends, family and neighbors and not the gossip and misleading information.
You and I may come from different political and social views. We may have had different things to overcome in our lives which have shaped us into who we are, but the commonalities far outweigh that which makes us different: We all have to eat, raise and educate our children, maintain a roof over our heads, pay for unaffordable medical care and pray to God that things will get better before we can't keep holding it all together any longer.
It is time to help the prayes with some action and start doing. We need to ask the questions and demand straight answers and most importantly, we need to stop the distractions pitting us against each other like stubborn toddlers fighting over a plastic toy.
My neighbors, friends and family are Republicans, Democrats, Independents, God fearing, God loving, Agnostic and Atheist. They live everywhere in our beautiful country and the extent of the miles does not make them any less my neighbors.
I care about my friends in Ohio that are barely making ends meet and count their blessings that they still have a job, while fearing they will be let go because the company is having a hard time meeting their payroll.
My friends in Hawaii who are paying over $8.00 for a gallon of milk. My friends across the street who are talking to a lawyer about bankruptcy because their two income household is now a one income household and their kids are doing without because they can't provide for what they need.
My friend, a teacher, whose daughter is on her 2nd tour in Iraq and my friend, a businessman, whose son is going for his 3rd deployment after recovering from injuries on his 2nd tour.
It seems to me that the more I talk to these people, the more we talk about the things that truly matter and none of the distractions.
I hope we can all join in the same conversation.
Wishing you PEACE