If your candidate loses the upcoming election, how do you plan to spend the hours and days afterward?
Do you plan, like some, to further your hostility toward those who supported the winner? Will it make you hostile enough to openly mock them or their candidate on social media, or to their face?
I don’t need to remind you that Newton County is part of a state and country which may see the largest turnout of voters in history in the Nov. 3 General Election.
It has, as expected, become bitterly divisive as President Donald Trump in his patented way makes his case for holding on to the presidency and opponents trumpet all the reasons why challenger Joe Biden should replace him.
All Americans, I believe, hold a common set of beliefs that includes the potential for this country to lift up anyone economically through hard work.
At the same time, I believe most people believe in their constitutionally protected freedom of speech without fear of retribution.
But when the Constitution was written, our leaders hardly could have envisioned individual opinions being expressed at the speed of light on any number of social media platforms. And those giving their views seem to forget there are people on the other end reading what they write.
Also, people tend to get rubbed the wrong way more and more as our elected leaders and radio show hosts and TV news commentators ratchet up the outrage on both sides rather than encouraging people to listen to other points of view.
Then people react — using everything from social media to Rebel flags flown from pickup trucks to get their points across.
I wish I could say all our leaders locally have done all they could to promote unity after this election. A few have tried, but in so doing they also took actions that alienated some and fostered more mistrust about their leadership.
What both parties in Congress should have agreed to long before now still is not reality — a second federal stimulus package to help those still being harmed by COVID-19's economic effects.
The two sides refuse to find common ground and (here comes that hated word) COMPROMISE on something that will help everyone.
One of Newton County's two congressmen, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, recently told the Walton County Chamber of Commerce that he was concerned that "instead of coming together as a country, we're growing further and further apart."
"It's a shame that everything today is seemingly political. It concerns me where we are as a country," Hice said in a story in The Walton Tribune.
Yet, at the same event he appeared to back the often-debunked claim Trump has pushed that mail-in voting — an option requested by many because of safety concerns around COVID-19 — can be rigged and lead to an "inauthentic election."
Election officials and experts nationwide have said Trump's insistence on conspiracy theorizing about mail ballots and voting in general will affect the public's confidence in whatever result occurs in November, NPR reported.
The FBI — part of Trump's Justice Department — has noted how difficult any coordinated fraud scheme involving mail ballots would be because U.S. elections are so decentralized and have numerous safeguards in place, NPR reported
Newton County's other congressman, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, hasn't done much to bring the country together, either.
He has been empathetic to calls for reforming police departments in the wake of shootings of unarmed Black men earlier this year.
However, many read this as linked to a national "defund the police" movement — scaring those who’ve seen the images from the ongoing chaos in cities like Portland, Oregon, or past actions by rioters in downtown Atlanta.
I remember the days following Trump's 2016 election. It was true he had not won the popular vote but he won the all-important electoral vote that made him duly elected according to the Constitution.
Some on the left insisted he was not the president because he had not won the popular vote. Then they continued to disagree with his unorthodox approach to governing, or his persistent use of Twitter rather than a press secretary.
What any of this had to do with the policies he planned to promote, or the initiatives he planned about foreign trade or health care, was not clear. These folks appeared not to like him personally.
Christians might say the “evil one” has always worked to maintain disunity in this world to interfere with the human order that his arch enemy, God, established. As a result, it's up to us to maintain the fragile unity that has held this country together for almost 250 years, they say.
Disunity has led to wars based in ethnic and religious hatred between Hindus and Muslims in the Indian subcontinent; or Jews and Muslims in the Middle East since World War II.
One of the bloodiest wars of the 19th century was fought partly in Georgia between two armies whose leaders wouldn't compromise on any number of issues.
The question now is: Do our leaders and we have enough wisdom to avoid the same fate that those in other parts of the world did not?