For instance, don't flip off anyone who holds a sign you don't like. Don't roll your window down and cuss someone who is not feelin' it for your candidate.
In years past, some of my friends and family members have stood outside the 100-foot boundary at polling locations in Williamson County. We smile, greet people, thank everyone for voting regardless of perceived party affiliation and encourage the support of our candidates. We approach it like a tail-gating atmosphere, and we enjoy meeting new people and seeing neighbors and friends.
When people make nasty remarks, we do not reply in kind. We must all get along---we live and work together. We have more in common than differences.
Nonetheless, it is hard not to be stunned when things like these are said and done:
"You should be ashamed of yourselves," one man said to Obama supporters on election day 2008. While we were trying to figure out what we were supposed to be ashamed of, his wife said, "You are not an American," to my wife, who was born in Alabama.
Flailing her arms and poncho, another woman started yelling at us as soon as she got out of her car and hit the sidewalk, angrily clip-clopping her boots toward us.
"Obama's going to run this country into the ground," she finished as she turned to walk inside.
I bit my tongue to keep from saying, "It's too late; Bush already did."
A little girl, whose mother had brought her to learn about voting, was frightened by the woman's outburst. I had taken her picture as she held an Obama sign. The mother said, "Please do not use her picture anywhere that the public can see her."
A widely known basketball coach, who shall remain nameless, stalled in his tracks, a sneer-smile crossing his lips, when I asked him to vote for my candidates. To his credit, he did not say anything nasty.
A famous country singer, who shall remain nameless, got carried away with the moment and about fell off her stilettos while walking one way and leering back at us over her shoulder. To her credit, she did not launch a diatribe.
Poll workers on the inside must put duty over party. A poll worker during the 2008 primary put his arm around my wife and said, "I'm going to help you vote," when he acted as if the voting machine would only display Republican candidates.
Even Ashley Judd has felt this in Williamson County. "You just voted for the wrong one," a poll worker once told her. "Unacceptable," Judd recently told a gathering of Tennessee Democrats. "That is inappropriate."
A school crossing guard allegedly got fired in 2008 after a Republican voter complained to the Franklin police that she was talking to a woman with an Obama sign. She was later reinstated after someone came to his senses.
The press does not report on these uncomfortable things, the sign-stealing and this underbelly of politics at the person-to-person level. If you want a he-said, she-said to this story, a counterpart that says there are over-the-top Democrats who try to intimidate Republicans in Williamson County, it simply does not exist.
Williamson County is the sixth largest Democratic voting block in the state. Still, there are those in Williamson County who would like to deny the existence of Democrats there, just as they are in denial about there being hungry children in Williamson County or that Obama was born in Hawaii or that Democrats are entitled to breathe the same air. I think those do not represent the GOP mainstream in Williamson County and Middle Tennessee, although they have grabbed the microphone locally and nationally.
Elections heighten emotions. There's a lot at stake. For me it's a matter of whose side are you on: People and democracy or the big-money players who are taking over our government?
That's what pushed our Founders over the edge: the teaming up of a giant transnational corporation (British East India Company) and the government (King George III), who handed the faltering monopoly a bailout which involved taxing American colonists.
Does any of this sound familiar?
Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave at our dying democracy. If you would not cuss out or flip off Thomas Jefferson, don't flip off my friends and family for exercising the rights which protect you as well.