EDITORIAL: Students need to be cordial during political times


Tuesday, Nov. 13 Editorial Cartoon

Herald Staff

THE ISSUE: Barack Obama won the 2012 presidential election, to the glee and unhappiness of many. People for both candidates took out their respective emotions in different ways, many with the same implications.   

OUR STANCE: Much of the student reaction last week was disappointing, as it displayed a lack of civility on both sides. In the end one thing is apparent: students need to do better.

The re-election of Obama last Tuesday spurred both excitement and disappointment for people across the nation and on WKU’s campus.

Unfortunately, the night brought out some of the worst in those who were on both the receiving and losing ends of the votes.

Twitter parody accounts — always classy — begin sending racist tweets calling black people “mutants” and justifying Obama’s win with accusing those who voted for him as lazy individuals who don’t like to work, among other cringe-worthy epithets.

Just as bad were the students who gathered around the Pearce Ford Tower courtyard that night to celebrate by burning a Mitt Romney mask to cheers from the crowd.

And, of course, we all came across that one person on our Facebook newsfeed who irrationally proclaimed they were leaving the country if their respective candidate didn’t win.

Election night was a night that showed many people who were, frankly, acting stupidly, rather than individuals who had just witnessed a key moment in American history.

The Herald has harped about social media etiquette in the past and how students should tweet responsibly. Now we are here to add something new to our statement: students should learn to be civil with their actions, win or lose.

We are living in a very divisive time in American politics. One does not have to look far to see the nasty campaign rhetoric that was spewed both during the campaign and during Obama’s first term. It seems everyone has his or her own opinion on what America needs and where it should go.

Opinions are great, but when we cannot learn to disagree civilly or with respect to another, then it’s time to look at ourselves and ask: Are we being examples of the people we want living in this country? Were the students who showed their emotions acting in ways they would be proud of? And the answer from that night is strongly evident that they were not.

Tweeting racist or outlandish things and proclaiming you are going to leave the country does nothing to help the cause you’re perpetuating. It only makes you look silly.

And, be honest, you’re not going to leave the United States just because you don’t like the president. You are going to stay and put up with it like you’ve been doing.

Burning a Mitt Romney mask is equally offensive and ignorant. His stances shouldn’t be the sole representation of who he is. Burning his caricature isn’t just disagreeing with his opinions — it’s essentially burning him.

Politics can be tricky as it requires voters to think about the most important issues that affect them and get behind a person who will help create a country they believe is the most ideal. Having that candidate win or lose is likely to bring out a number of feelings.

Still, as people with self-respect, we have a duty to be amiable to one another. We continue to expect our leaders to work together for the betterment of our country, and as we do that, we should do the same.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has criticized Obama in the past, was a Republican who was able to put his party’s general feelings towards Democrats aside in the wake of a disaster.

He praised Obama’s efforts during the aftermath of Sandy and thanked him for their “great working relationship.” Christie is still a Republican and still does not agree with many of Obama’s policies, but was able to put those feelings aside when something much greater than politics devastated the East Coast.

In a time where the United States as a whole is struggling in a number of different areas, we should look to put aside our individual beliefs for a more collective push towards something bigger than who is leading the country. At the end of the day the president isn’t the sole person who decides policy. Our system of checks and balances guarantees that. As voters we also have power in our own right to help. Being involved in the political process and pushing for your candidate is huge – it’s part of what makes democracy great – but we must not forget to treat others with respect and dignity.

Again, we are only as strong as we are cohesive. As Kentucky’s state motto puts it , “United we stand, divided we fall.”

Now that the election is over, students and non-students alike must accept the outcome of what happened November 6 and do what they can to ensure they are being the best citizens possible, whether they liked the results of the election or not.