Political tensions have escalated over the past year, with individuals and organizations crossing the line of decent and appropriate behavior with increasing frequency in the name of politics. And that's not good.
But, sometimes we focus too much on the negativity created by those who take things to the extreme, and ignore the positive aspects of the larger picture. When you step back and evaluate the political landscape in America right now, one thing is clear: People really care about what's going on in this country.
And for that, I'm thankful.
Apathy is cleaner, but unproductive
Things go a lot more smoothly when people don't care much about politics. The fewer people who are deeply invested in who leads our country and what direction it is going, the less conflict there is. But that relative peace comes at a high price.
On the flip side, life gets messy when many more people care about politics. We've seen this with our recent Supreme Court battle, and more recently with some bitterly contested midterm elections.
Some may point to this messiness and decry how divided our country is now. And certainly, those who are harassing politicians or threatening media members at their homes are going too far. But I would say, maybe these divisions aren't so new. Maybe it's the passion to fight for personal and political values that's catching us by surprise.
Conflict and tension (when expressed within the boundaries of our political system) are not bad. When a larger portion of the country's citizens votes, advocates, protests, or campaigns for what they believe in, we pay the price of some of our comfort and peace but we purchase a healthier nation.
People care about midterms now?
Nearly half (49.3 percent) of the voting-eligible population turned out to vote in the 2018 midterms — percentage not reached since 1914, The next highest turnout since 1914 was 1966, when 48 percent of eligible voters turned out.
In 2014, only 36.7 percent of the voting-eligible population cast a ballot. In the last four years, many people have stopped taking for granted the impact that non-presidential elections have on their lives and their country.
Even in Georgia, where Democrats continue to accuse Gov.-elect Brian Kemp of voter suppression, the turnout was 21 points above its midterm average from 1982-2014 — the highest increase of any state in 2018.
Politics can be ugly. They can make you mad. The views and efforts of the other side can be frustrating. But with all that said, I'd rather see the nation fight the good fight of thriving with a diverse and passionate electorate than see it atrophy as citizens choose not to care enough to participate.
This year, I'm thankful that people care.