An open letter to the leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties: We’re giving you four years notice.

It’s a pretty good deal when you think about it. Most of us only get thirty days notice before they shut off our electricity or our water. You’re getting four years!

Many of us are getting ready to go to the polls, or to cast our absentee ballots, which we hope and pray will be counted before springtime. All too many of us are holding our noses when we vote. “Well, I’m not really a fan of this guy, but he’s the lesser of two evils.” Or, “I’m not really voting FOR this guy, I’m just voting AGAINST the other guy.”

In the meantime, many of us are afraid to express our opinion out loud. If we put a certain bumper sticker on our car, we might be on the receiving end of an unfriendly one-finger salute from an American who does not agree. If we put a certain sign in our yard, it is likely to be vandalized.

If we post a comment on Facebook, even mildly critical of a candidate’s actions or opinions, we could lose a “friend,” although the definition of that word has changed radically in recent years. Back in the day, a friend was someone you could count on. Now that friend will abandon you if you’ve become a “lefty socialist” or a “right-wing cult member.” Some friend, right?

This is why I’m giving you four years notice, Mr. Republican, and Mr. Democrat. Your inflammatory, fear-mongering campaign commercials are ripping us apart. Yes, we’ve seen them before, but they’re getting out of hand. You’re falsifying information, you’re taking words out of context, and you’re telling outright lies. You are spreading this hatred on social media, where it is shared by well-meaning people who think they’re doing their friends a favor. Instead they’re doing a great disservice, while you cheer them on.

When I think back to the giants of the 20th century, I can’t imagine them allowing this to take place. FDR would not permit such a campaign. Nor would Ike, or their opponents. I can’t imagine them doing or saying anything that would encourage division and strife. Yet here we are.

Church members are choosing sides. Families are feuding. Neighbors are having second thoughts about someone they have known and trusted for decades. “I had no idea you were on that side. And to think I have trusted you with the keys to my house!” All because of the discord you have sown.

So here is my message to you, party leaders. Don’t let this happen in 2024. You have four years to clean it up.

In a few weeks, one of two people will be elected to serve in the White House. Either the current president, or his opponent will have the difficult task of repairing what ails us. Blame whoever you want, there is plenty to go around. That won’t solve anything.

Somehow, we have to get back to normal, get back to work, and stop hating those with whom we disagree. Frankly, I have my doubts that either of the 2020 candidates can make this happen, no matter how hard they may try.

We’re going to make it past these next four years, and it will not be easy. America has survived stiffer challenges. But the sickness, the deaths, and the destruction must stop.

We must have respect for our laws, and for those who enforce them. We must support our medical experts, and entrust them to provide accurate information. We must be able to have confidence in the highest levels of all three branches of government: executive, legislative, and judicial.

During most of my life, I have been able to awaken each day without those concerns. It has been a while since I have been able to say that. Some say things began to unravel on 9/11. Others blame on it the Clintons and Obama. Still others place the blame on Trump. No one is going to change their minds. So you have four years to change the tone, to change the conversation.

Let’s see some fresh faces in 2024. Let’s see some candidates who aren’t trying to carry on anyone’s “legacy.” Show me some people who are focused on what we will leave behind for our children and grandchildren.

Go out and recruit some people who will allow America to be respected worldwide. Find some candidates who will listen to all sides, and recognize our differences are what make us great, not what are tearing us down.

It shouldn’t be that hard. If anyone applies for the 2024 job promising “more of the same,” send them packing. Put the word “United” back into the USA. You have four years notice. Please don’t waste that time.

David Carroll, a Chattanooga news anchor, is the author of “Volunteer Bama Dawg,” available on his website, ChattanoogaRadioTV.com. You may contact him at radiotv2020@yahoo.com, or 900 Whitehall Road, Chattanooga, TN 37405.

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