Oct. 9 2020 08:00 AM

Don’t let this election year bring out the worst in you — be kind, even when you disagree.

‘Tis the season for rambling posts and general unfriendliness on account of political views. As election day grows closer, I am reminded of 2016 and the massive fallouts of that November. Not political consequences because of who was elected, but ended friendships and heated arguments solely based on who someone voted for.

At the time of the last presidential election, I was a senior in high school, struggling with my own viewpoints and developing my own opinions. I remember being somewhat thankful that I wasn’t old enough to vote because the candidates available were so divided and so separated from agriculture, an impactful industry that I was so devoted to.

I expected to watch my friends argue and debate over key issues, but what I didn’t expect was for so many of them to lose touch or even condemn one another because of their declared political viewpoints. But what was most alarming to me was the way that they attacked these candidates. It went much further than their political views or policies, into chastising their families and personal traits.

I want to be clear. I am not excusing or condoning any candidate or any action. I just think that we put these people on a pedestal, and maybe it’s time that we take them down, for their own good.

Our world is full of leaders, and sometimes we forget that they share something very important with us — humanity.

Our current leaders and those up for election this November were once classmates with somebody in high school, casually chatting at the lunch table. Our presidential, congressional, and senatorial candidates were and are someone’s child. They are someone’s family member. They have all felt heartbreak and triumph, they have made decisions that they regretted, and they have made those that they stand by. They have had experiences that shaped their opinions, careers, families, and livelihoods. They have experienced great loss and great success.

It is easy to forget that someone like Joe Biden or Donald Trump was once a kid learning to ride a bike or an awkward high school freshman, but they were. Remembering this simple fact can help us to be more compassionate.

It is excessively common to mentally compartmentalize leaders as only that — leaders. We have high expectations of them, and we should, but we cannot forget to allow them the same grace we allow ourselves, and that is the ability to be human.

This is not a message about politics. I am not here to share my political views with you. I am here to remind you that politicians and those who vote for them are people. People who deserve kindness, compassion, and at least a basic level of understanding.

Abbie Cox
Abbie Cox grew up in Cato, N.Y. on a first-generation dairy farm and currently attends Cornell University as a member of the class of 2021, majoring in animal science with a minor in education and a focus in dairy. On campus, she is involved with the Cornell University Dairy Science Club, Sigma Alpha, Collegiate Farm Bureau, and is a Peer Adviser with CALS Student Services. Cox has interned with the MILC group, the Animal Agriculture Alliance, and was the 2020 Hoard’s Dairyman summer editorial in-tern.