I’ve been given a great deal of advice in my life. So much so, at times, I thought that was my only reason for existence – to be the one everyone else gave advice to. They’d been advised about this, that and the other so wanted to make sure I got mine.

Much of the time, we ignore advice from those around us. We are, after all, independent people living in a nation that prides itself on it’s independence. So the “School of Hard Knocks” – which we usually “attend” when we ignore more and better experienced advice and do it our own way – has more graduates than all the universities of the world combined.

So saying, I am about to offer some advice here.

From childhood up, maybe the best and most consistent instruction I’ve received from others is “Don’t decide something while you’re angry.” It didn’t take long – whether as a child or an adult – to learn that is always – ALWAYS – the right thing to do. Let things settle, stay on course, take some time, then make your decision.

The reason why this comes to mind now is there are many, many people in this country who are going to the polls very, very mad. It was so in 2010 and it now seems anger is the national mood. Anger with government. Anger with politicians. Anger with bankers. Anger with the economy. Anger with nearly everyone and nearly everything.

Most of all, mad and frustrated that our lives – and so many of the things we were brought up to believe in – are being tossed to and fro. Institutions we grew up respecting seem to have either turned their backs on us or become villains attacking our security, our economy, our families, our way of life. We are damned mad. And, truth be told, more than a little scared.

We’re a nation so conflicted, badly divided and distrustful that we and our institutions are suspicious of nearly everything and able to agree on almost nothing. The proof is everywhere. But no more so than in politics. National polling dealing with elections to be held 11 months hence is absolutely worthless at this point. Means nothing. Well, almost nothing. The rotating “leader-of-the-month” in polling of the Republican presidential fracas makes my anger argument. If Democrats were to put up someone to oppose the sitting president, it would probably be the same scenario.

Angry and often bitter national divisions have their roots in each of us. Though many are fed by professional haters paid to keep the pot boiling, nearly all of us have become disillusioned and angry with conditions. Even we who ignore the haters by tuning them out have developed our own sense of futility and anger because we seem to lack the power to change things. To make conditions better.

Being told how divided and mad we are only feeds what’s already there. Emotions of frustration, disillusionment and the rest start individually; a true “bottom up” situation. When it reaches a certain point – and it seems to have done so – it becomes national. Not before.

Some of my well-educated, successful and life-experienced friends were mad when they went to the polls in ’10. Votes were cast not “for” someone but “against” someone. Now, several have told me they will do so again in ’12. Because they’re madder now than in 2010. Makes no difference how unqualified, ignorant, ideologically unfit or politically clueless the name on the ballot is. That’s the one they’ll mark. They’re mad as Hell! No lessons have been learned.

Being angry when voting explains – more than any single factor – why our Congress is deadlocked and completely ineffective. Rather than calming down, thinking through what’s best for the country, really learning the issues and making a reasoned decision, millions and millions of folk fell for the road apples of people they’d never heard of and knew nothing about. But those “candidates” – just like the voters – were expressing anger and promising to “fix” things. Well, did they?

The four remaining Republican presidential candidates are heaving anger by the shovelful. They’re promising to “uproot” the three branches of government. Make all sorts of changes. As if there were no Constitution and no constitutional division of powers. They’re appealing to people who are ignorant of how our government works and who will support them because that’s the way they feel. Mad. Angry. Frustrated. No thought of the consequences. Believing what they want to hear.

Some Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina citizens interviewed recently make the case. Time and again, the phrase “I want someone who won’t compromise” was all the reason given for voting for someone. That’s all. “Won’t compromise.” No understanding of politics. Of the value of compromise to achieve success. They’re mad. Unreasonably, blindly, ignorantly MAD!

So, the advice. Don’t vote angry. Acknowledge that almost all of us feel the same for many of the same reasons. Calm down. Study up. Vote informed.

If you think you’re mad now – really sincerely mad – Santorum, Romney, Gingrich and Paul are not going to return confidence and trust in government. Which we absolutely and desperately need. They’re running angry. We can’t afford to vote angry.

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