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So why all the political rants every election year? I mean, aren’t our political ideals a bit similar to our feelings about religion for example? Feelings so deep-seated aren’t easily changed. My own reaction when being hammered over the head is to make an exit – fast! The way I see it, I’m way too old to subject myself to such torment.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that the most zealous folks, the ones who run willy-nilly over others’ opinions, tend to hold views on the extreme fringes – the “far right” or “far left” if you will – and they are the folks least likely open to hearing your side of things. But I think most people (and I include myself as one of them) want to see things in November end up in the manner that will be best for our country. Even though things are getting better, both parties agree there is a long way to go.

We recently survived the conventions by the Democrat and Republican parties. Now, I wonder if people watch both parties’ conventions or just the convention where their political inclinations lie. Because it seems to me, if we don’t watch them both, it’s a bit like preaching to the choir.

Granted, both sides trot out the best speakers they can find to promote the reasons we need to vote for a particular candidate. The candidates’ spouses, Ann Romney and Michelle Obama, both took high marks for giving rousing, emotional speeches for their respective hubbies. Former presidents, rising political stars and, of course, celebrities were all on deck to further a candidate’s popularity (although was it just me or, umm, Clint – what were you thinking???).

Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are both exemplary men who want to do a good job for our country. How they’ll each do that is where the differences lie. And this is where we need to do our homework, friends, because the issues we face today are some mighty big ones. Education, Medicare, employment, health care, fair and effective methods of taxation, and Social Security are some of the concerns on the road ahead, and such weighty matters merit our attention.

Some issues present us with perplexing conundrums, unfortunately. For example, we want jobs here in the United States rather than see them continually out-sourced to places like China. Along with that, we want goods and services to be competitively (i.e. low) priced. Yet American workers need to earn a good living wage. So we have this “double-edged sword” sort of thing in not just this instance, but in so many matters. It’s not easy – coming up with that “win-win” situation for carving out a healthy future for our economy.

And Gov. Romney and President Obama have differing visions of how to make it work.

So rather than throwing mud at “the other side,” how about we put that aside for now and concentrate on how things can be better going forward. Like my friend Irene, let’s concentrate on how we’re all the same – how we’re all Americans. And rather than stirring up apathy or hate toward others, how about if we truly open our minds and examine the issues from BOTH sides. Let’s listen – truly listen – to another point of view. Because that’s what cooperation is, after all – both sides working together.

So have I made up my mind where I’ll place my vote in November? Yes. But I’m still listening.

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