By RYAN BEARDSLEY
Special to the Sun-Gazette
Now that the election is safely in our rear-view mirror, it's refreshing that we can all settle down and be a little nicer to one another.
There's nothing that splits America like an election, and although I believe strongly in the democratic process, I'm always amazed at how defensive people become every four years. It's one thing to be supportive of your candidate or political party of choice, but politics make some people just downright nasty.
I've heard from friends and family that being a part of a couple that has split political views can be exhausting.
Those who experience this say they handle the situation in many different ways. Some set ground rules not to talk politics whatsoever. Others enjoy the conflict and healthy discussion it can raise in the family. Still others just spend close to six months fighting like cats and dogs - or in this case, if I'm going to use an animal analogy, like donkeys and elephants.
I'm lucky enough to share similar political beliefs with my spouse. To be fair, however, my wife and I are not overly political. We believe strongly in certain issues and have a political party affiliation, but you'll not find either of us condemning another because of his or her political beliefs.
To be honest, life's too short.
Sure, I want things to get better for our country. We're facing trying times with record numbers in debt and high unemployment. Still, I can tell you one thing: one person, whether democratic or republican, is not going to be the cure-all for what's ailing the country.
There were times during the latest political campaign that I questioned my vote and wondered if the other political party was the answer at this time.
That's one of the great things about being an American: it's my prerogative to change my mind as I see fit.
I can guarantee that my wife won't call me an idiot because of it. If she did, I think we'd have deeper issues than just political differences.
Even if we did share differing political views, I'm confident that I respect my wife enough to listen to her side of the story. I didn't marry her for her political beliefs, I married her because she's a confident woman with a strong heart and an even stronger mind. Why would I ever criticize her for any belief she had, whether I believe the same or not? What would make my beliefs any better than hers?
That type of respect should be exercised with all acquaintances, friends and even strangers in our daily lives - not just a significant other.
We should all try and keep that in mind in four years.
Beardsley, a native of Loyalsock Township, was a former Sun-Gazette reporter. He now resides in Scranton. His column is published on the third Sunday of each month.
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.