Father Eugene Hemrick

Without exception, everyone I’ve spoken to about the presidential race has said, “I can’t wait until it’s over.”

They weren’t looking forward to the next elected president taking office; rather, they were fed up. One woman told me, “We’ve been over saturated with commercials and have indigestion!” Another man said, “The negative atmosphere has poisoned us.” Another bemoaned, “We’ve lost our sense of values, especially civility.” And then there was the observation: “All we heard was ‘you said that and I say this.'”

Add to this the media analysis of every speck of the candidates’ behavior: He was sweating; he seemed tired and unconcerned; he stumbled; he smiled too much; notice his frown.

For those of us who endure this, what are we to make of it?

Welcome to the new age of heightened incivility. One of the meanings of civility is to feel at home. Respect, good manners, politeness, graciousness and consideration make us feel comfortable and speak to our nobility. When they are missing, we sense something has gone wrong.

So we must ask, how considerate was it to be bombarded by the same repeated commercial as we tried to enjoy a favorite program?

We all love a good debate and a fighting spirit. But were the debates real debates? Did they exhaust an issue as much as is possible given the time, or were they focused on character assassination? What was the ratio of graciousness to rudeness?

When I addressed the question of millions of dollars spent on campaigning, a friend replied, “It’s worth it when you realize we are electing a person to the most powerful position in the world.”

Money will always play a major role in politics, but here we must ask, how principled are its donors? Is it the intention of the donor to ensure the common good, or is it given for personal gain?

Life is filled with personal interests, but when do they cross the line at the expense of the common good?

Much of what we heard in the debates was about the middle class; little was addressed to those living in poverty. This raises the question, how true is it that the gap has greatly widened between those who have and those who don’t have and why didn’t we hear more about this?

These questions aren’t intended to add more negativity to all the negativism we have experienced already. But we need to reflect on why we feel uncomfortable with a democratic process that we encourage all other nations to embrace.