Why is our society stuck on blame? Watching the presidential debates brings this point into clear focus as the candidates spend much of their air time cutting down their competitor instead of outlining a plan to improve our country. Mudslinging must be easier to spew than discussing solutions to problems. When we blame others it provides a distraction from the real issues and enables us to avoid addressing our own shortcomings. Both candidates have spent a ton of money advertising why not to vote for their opponent, but very little on what they will do differently to strengthen our country. The negative ad campaigns only reinforce our dislike, mistrust, and cynicism about politicians and our government.
The same accusatory banter and defensive posturing that our politicians exhibit often occur with couples in my office. Both parties focus on what their partner is doing wrong and rarely identify their own shortcomings. The amount of negative energy, blame, and drama that couples engage in keeps them stuck in a vicious cycle of misery. For politicians, the term frequently used is polarization. Both parties attack each other and justify their position through personal jabs and inappropriate comments in an effort to convince others that their opinion is valid and correct. Why not convince the public through logical and rational strategies rather than hurling insults to undermine each other?
Of course everyone would like to vote for a candidate who has integrity, honorable character, trustworthiness, and genuine concern for our country. When neither of the two major candidates (in my opinion) exude these characteristics, how do we vote? Many of us are stuck in a quandary about who to vote for; should it be the lesser of two evils, the person who can do less damage, or maybe the person who aligns most with our values and beliefs. The point I’m trying to make is that blame doesn’t work in politics or marriage since it evades the more important issue which is how can we change to improve our situation. Blame perpetuates anger and bitterness which seems to be growing in our society and marriages.
At the end of the second debate both candidates were asked to identify something positive about each other which they did. They seemed genuine in their comments and it was one of the few positive moments of the debate. As in marriage, for politicians to work together they must treat each other with respect, seek compromise, and accept responsibility for their own shortcomings. As a nation, we need to cooperate with each other, seek understanding of opposing viewpoints and have compassion for each other’s position. We are much stronger as a country when we are united, not divided.