Many years ago, in a similar political climate of gridlock and paralyzing partisanship, I decided to approach my own political affiliation from an independent point of view.
Since then, the ranks of independent voters have grown and yet they are seldom heard from in political discourse or in op-ed columns because they are not easily categorized, except to say they are often moderates. These remarks reflect the thoughts of an independent voter who profoundly respects our democratic form of government and its inherent checks and balances.
The Untied States Congress of 2012 is characterized by the lowest approval rating ever recorded. This presidential campaign is filled with vacuous negative rhetoric and cliched narrative rather than dealing with serious issues and specific solutions.
So much of what we read in the public opinion pages of the papers and on blogs on the internet has been downright mean-spirited.
Do the radicals of both right and left really believe that there is no need for our two-party system? Does the opposition, in their eyes, have no validity?
We are a democratic nation and would never choose to see our government replaced by an oligarchy or some version of totalitarianism. Let's never lose sight of the importance of our democratic process. Perhaps the debates will bring substance and clarity to the issues.
Ours is a country almost evenly divided between liberal and conservative; between red and blue.
Disgust for viewpoints other than one's own is pervasive in human nature, but not worthy of the tolerance for others that my faith teaches.
I don't believe, for example, that half my fellow citizens are socialists or greedy capitalists or traitors or heathens intent on the moral destruction of this great republic. But I do believe that men and women of good will and noble intentions with the best interests of the American people at heart can be found across the entire political and religious spectrum of our diverse nation.
And so I am not interested in nurturing a litany of hateful epitaphs or judging my neighbors and friends whose beliefs differ from my own.
Most Independents are not in lockstep with the ideology of either the right or left and rarely vote a straight ticket.
They recognize and respect the fact that good ideas and thoughtful solutions are found on both sides of the aisle. The Simpson-Bowles Commission findings on debt reduction and entitlement and tax reform are a good example of bipartisan cooperation and compromise.
On the other hand, party hacks from either side are people I am not influenced by.
Repetitious sound-bites and rhetoric filled with disrespect, vitriol and denigration do little to inform or enlighten, in my humble opinion.
And so I limit my information sources to those venues that debate, in a civil and respectful way, both sides of the issues we face on the national and international stage.
Yet any statesman or woman who passionately, persuasively and consistently stands by their beliefs, even if they differ from mine, will earn my respect in a heartbeat. Independence has a liberating quality.
Mr. Romney and President Obama are examples of men of good will and intent, but this election cycle has been like none other.
Both campaigns have demonstrated a reckless disregard for the truth, thereby insulting and frustrating many of the electorate. Our sitting president has been called a Muslim; he's a Christian. He has been accused of not only being un-American, but of not even being an American.
Some say he has taken our country away from us resulting in cries of "take our country back." These calls, just like the recent ridiculous call against the Packers, are unfounded and not worthy of the opposition. Attack this president on his governance and ideology, not his legitimacy.
How fortunate we are to be citizens of a country aptly referred to as the "land of opportunity."
How fortunate are we to live in a Democracy by and for the people, with an enduring and awesome constitution to define our rights and frame the laws that protect our precious freedoms. This is our birthright.
This is why we go to the polls. I fervently hope and pray that in 2013, this country will once again behave as a democracy and that our political leaders will be able to work responsibly together, not only to strengthen our free-enterprise system but also affect compromise to enhance the common good and prosper us all in this generation and in generations to come.
They are more than capable.