Words are power. People who use words eloquently are lauded and listened to. They also carry a huge responsibility. When you have the power to sway people with your words, you should weigh them carefully. The temperature in our country is as extreme as it has ever been between people. The name calling, the violence, and the partisanship are so extreme that civility is out the window. Nobody is nice anymore! What is that about?

It’s about power and we should be smarter than this. People are being manipulated like wooden puppets on all sides. Both the liberals and the conservatives are guilty of the divisive language controlling our thoughts and minds right now. We as a people have to stop being controlled so easily. Those who lead us aren’t smarter than us, they are just elected. We, by the way, made that happen for them. There is no President who has served without us. No Senator, no representative, no mayor, no council member, no governor, no elected official. They need us to be who they are. That is America. We are the electorate and it is our job to protect our country by participating in the vote.

How do we then listen to all the rhetoric and not sift through it responsibly? Why do we listen to the hate-filled advertisements and respond to them like blind sheep? We should as a people be smarter than that, more capable than that, and certainly more protective over our democracy than that.

One particular ad that is totally distasteful is the one running now by Matt Bevin with the sneer that Beshear is a Daddy’s boy and taking advantage of hard-working Kentuckians by riding on Daddy’s coattails to the Governor’s office.

If a candidate is real they should ride on their record and not on smear campaigns. We have the power of controlling that situation by simply voting against people who embody such tactics. We give our power away as a citizen’s government when we allow negative campaigns to rule our decisions. Recently I read an article by someone I truly like and respect and found myself wanting to respond, for several reasons, one I am a Democrat, everyone knows that, but while there are elements of socialism I agree with and embrace, I am a capitalist.

It is not accurate to brush Democrats as socialists and Republicans patrician capitalists. I looked up the definition for both a Democrat and a Republican, according to Webster. Here it is: Democrat (top three definitions) 1. A person who believes in and upholds government by the people, advocate of rule by the majority. 2. A person who believes in and practices the principle of equality of rights, opportunity, and treatment. 3. A member of the Democratic Party. The Republican definition: 1. One that favors or supports a republican form of government. 2. Of, relating to, or having the characteristics of a republic; favoring, supporting or advocating a republic or belonging or appropriate to one living in or supporting a republic. Webster even gives a definition for a Democratic-Republican. Notice not one mention of socialism or extremism anywhere.

We should become what we are supposed to be, a nation of diverse, talented, dedicated people moving forward with a wild experiment in government by the people started many hundreds of years ago now. We have stayed strong and united through very difficult times, but oftentimes by shoving things down and hiding the hatred. It is too late for that this time. The hate has been allowed out of the box and we have to deal with it as the same strength of our forefathers and our foremothers.

We have to turn the channel when hate springs on us, we have to respond to hate-filled rhetoric through boycotts — don’t do business with those who practice it so openly (hate) — and we have to embrace those who we view as different because we are a melting pot, that is our legacy. We have to take back our government by voting in those who will represent us as a people and not corporations and self-interests. We need to look forward and address the issues of educating our youth affordability to make us truly competitive in a world arena, and we have to acknowledge our wrongdoing and make it right.

On Sunday, my husband and I went to see a play, “Little Fishies Raining Down,” at Bunbury Theatre, it was a remarkable reminder of how people can come from things differently and still all manage to end up in the same place through different eyes. At the end of the play, the characters were all in the yard listening to President Carter’s address. Today, I leave you with some of the wisest and most prophetic words I have heard; I was so young then, too young to have really listened:

“Little by little we can and we must rebuild our confidence. We can spend until we empty our treasures, and we may summon all the wonders of the science. But we can succeed only if we tap our greatest resources — America’s people, America’s values, and America’s confidence.” He went on to say, “In closing let me say this: I will do my best, but I will not do it alone. Let your voice be heard. Whenever you have a chance, say something good about our country. With God’s help and for the sake of our nation, it is time for us to join hands in America. Let us commit ourselves together to a rebirth of the American spirit. Working together with our common faith we cannot fail.” Jimmy Carter, July 15, 1979.

— Barbara Anderson, Jeffersonville, is executive director of Haven House Services Inc. Reach her by email atbarbanderson_1@yahoo.com.