Click photo to enlarge
he American flag waves against a rainbow as scattered showers pour across the East Bay seen from Lafayette Reservoir in Lafayette, Calif., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012. (Ray Chavez/Staff)

I'm glad and relieved the 2012 national election cycle is over. So take a very deep breath and enjoy this temporary "quiet" moment.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing things throughout this election cycle in this blood "sport" we call politics, are some important lessons -- if acted upon by the American people -- may result in a less toxic, vexatious and venomous atmosphere in future elections. At least one can only hope.

I received mailers, answered calls, read editorials and commentaries, analyzed the ads, speeches and debates and listened to the various "talking heads." I concluded that frequently we stigmatize and "blame the victim" for their lot in life while ignoring what (not who) should be stigmatized.

Instead of stigmatizing the inequality, cynicism and lack of or limited opportunities in such a rich, prosperous and abundant land, some people are still willing to suggest it's "their own" fault.

The brave men and women who wear a uniform fighting to preserve and protect our way of life are often frustrated or denied their just due when returning to civilian life. Don't forget, many served multiple tours, in harm's way with horrific images while being away from their family, friends and community. Then we saddle them with extra hoops they must jump through because of lost paperwork, VA staff shortages, technical problems and decision delays for deserved benefits, treatment, employment, housing and rehabilitation.


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Instead of stigmatizing the hatred, paranoia, oppression, bigotry, stereotyping, ruthlessness, disdain, indifference, marginalization or name-calling of people who don't look or act like us, and the bullying or violence in our families and community, we ignore the outward signs hoping it doesn't become an issue, or pretend it doesn't exist or think it isn't quite that bad and won't affect us.

That is until we lose family members, friends and co-workers. Then we ask questions and seek answers.

Instead of stigmatizing the greed, conspiracy, truth aversion, duplicity or numbing risk-taking in the housing market, we blame those who were baited or enticed by banks and mortgage companies, some unsuspecting, to take their final leap toward foreclosure.

Then blame is cast on those very same people, while the financial lenders suggest "they" shouldn't have tried to buy a home in the first place.

Scientists, scientific research and facts are dismissed as figments of the researchers' imaginations or linked to some political agenda.

Is this the America our Founding Fathers envisioned? Although not perfect, I suspect not. After all, at potential and grave consequences for them and their families (and property), they were fighting against tyranny and religious intolerance.

Aren't we a better nation than this? Throughout the world, we laud -- and in some cases flaunt -- our democratic principles, our sacred documents and way of life that should be emulated. However, this 2012 national election cycle demonstrates we're coming apart at the seams.

I still believe we're a better nation than the one recently demonstrated during this election cycle. We're a better and more tolerant people than that.

Our citizens must reach out to their faith, values, hopes, connectivity and compassion with one another. Our future prosperity, success and world leadership role requires -- no demands -- this from us.

Moving forward -- together -- we must embrace this reality and new order with true diversity. If we are to succeed as a nation and remain both the beacon of -- and remain -- the envy of the world, this must be our future aspiration, true calling, genuine purpose and real destiny.

Donald K. Richmond is a resident of Richmond.