Relax. This is not a partisan political post. These are my observations about the political climate in this country as it stands right now.

For the last several months, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been filled with a lot of ‘colorful’ political posts (and that’s being nice). Everyone has their opinion on the state of our government and many have chosen to voice said opinions. That’s the First Ammendment at work.

The last eight years have been some of the most politically polarizing years that I can remember. I wasn’t alive during the Nixon years or the Vietnam War so I can’t speak to what it was like then. Social media no doubt plays a huge role because, as I stated earlier, everyone is sharing their opinions for better or worse.

At the very least, the election of President Obama in November of 2008 exposed a racial divide that exists in this country. His supporters were accused of casting their votes solely for the sake of electing an African-American president and his opposition was equally accused of simply opposing because of his race. Those sweeping generalizations created a firestorm of racial tensions that we have seen boil over in recent years.

Those 8 years of political posturing by Republican and Democratic lawmakers created a culture where most average Americans lost faith in Washington. This created an environment where a political outsider could defy the odds and win the presidency based largely on his mantra of draining the swamp in DC.

Here’s my take.

Draining the swamp needs to happen, BUT elected officials aren’t the ones that can drain the swamp. They will ALL (regardless of political affiliation) seek to drain only their opposition and work tirelessly to keep their legislative friends in power. This will solve nothing. It will only continue to advance to hate-filled, insulting dialogue that we’ve been hearing for years now.

WE THE PEOPLE must be responsible for cleaning house in Washington. The era of the career politician has to come to an end. It’s absurd to me that a president can only serve 2 consecutive terms, but Senators and Congressmen can continue to win their seats for an indefinite amount of time. It is even more absurd to me that judicial appointments are lifetime appointments. These judges can say what they need to say during their confirmation hearings and then once appointed behave however they want with ZERO checks and balances on their power.

So how do we solve the problem?

1. Term limits for all elected officials. I am of the opinion that every member of Congress should be up for election every 2-4 years. The 6 year Senate term is ridiculous. No member of Congress should be able to serve for more than 8 consecutive years. Why are they more privileged than POTUS in this area?

2. Voters need to hold their elected officials accountable. If they aren’t doing their job, if they are spending more time obstructing than they are working to reach across the aisles, if they are padding their own pockets at the expense of the taxpayers… them out.

3. Stop voting based on a candidate’s name recognition. Do your homework before you go to the polls. This should apply to every level of government from municipal all the way up to the federal elections. I know way too many people who don’t bother to research and walk in and vote a party ticket just because that’s the party they belong to. Blind party loyalty by Republican and Democrat voters alike have landed some of the most unqualified and incompetent people in office. This has also led to some of the worst candidates imaginable being on the ballot.

Since 2008, I can only recall casting a vote for one candidate that I was truly voting for that candidate. That’s sad. Every other vote I felt like I was simply trying to prevent a candidate from winning. Is that the best that our 2-party system can offer us now?

I urge all Americans to pay attention to the political landscape in your community as well as in Washington. Don’t vote party lines. All Democrats aren’t George Soros and all Republicans are not Donald Trump. Engage in civil dialogue with people who don’t share your views and respect the fact that you may not change their mind just as they might not change yours. That being said, neither party has a platform that is right on every issue. It’s ok to change your mind on some things or at the very least be open to the fact that you could change your mind.

You want to drain the swamp of American politics? Don’t count on a politician to do it. Do it yourself!