One thing is certain these days: We are in the heat of a presidential election. We are bombarded with images in the news media. Signs line the highways and byways of the Metroplex, urging us to vote for one candidate or another, and bumper stickers litter the sterns of many an SUV. In spite of the mythical rule about not talking about religion or politics, even casual conversation hardly ever steers clear of election fever.  


          Don’t worry. I don’t intend to use this column to campaign for anyone. Oh, I have my personal preferences and opinions, but this is not the place to air them (if you really, really want to know, take me to lunch and I’ll tell you). 


          But I must admit that I am bothered this election season. It’s just dawning on me that I am getting more and more irritated as the weeks draw on. The news makes me sweat. Even some casual conversations leave me uncomfortable. What is this all about?


          Well, for a start, I hear so much vitriol in our public political discourse. Interesting word, vitriol. My dictionary tells me that it has to do with a “bitterly abusive feeling or expression.” An alternative reference points me to an article on sulphuric acid. That about defines it, doesn’t it? Why is it that admittedly important public issues lead otherwise pretty nice people to go on the attack, aiming at public personalities at best, or each other at worst. Whatever happened to civility, which I take to mean that attitude which allows for some people I disagree with to be right at least some of the time.


          That’s one thing that bothers me. The other one is, I wish political candidates would talk less about each other and more about how to make a better country. It’s easy to say “We need peace in the Middle East ,” or “I’ll eliminate global warming.” It’s so much more difficult to say how. 


          Maybe what we need is a good old-fashioned Fireside Chat with each of the candidates. No commercials. No commentators (apologies to my daughter the news reporter). Just tell us what you will do, and how you will do it, why it’s important, how much we’ll have to pay for it, and why it’s worth it. 


          I’ll put up with the bumper stickers and the commercials. But, idealistic me, what I’d really like to do is get rid of all the vitriol and hear a good, old-fashioned, plain speaking Fireside Chat. But if I said that, you might guess my politics, and let’s not go there.


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