My best self is not the person cut off in traffic. When I’m strangling the steering wheel, I’m a different me. I don’t think straight. This is not the person I want to be in this short life.

America 2020 is a road rage society, strangling the steering wheel toward a ditch. This is not the country I want us to be, but it’s who we are at the moment.

I only see one healthy way out — focus on getting our systems working in a functional way.

Professionalism is what matters right now at every level. If I go to a dentist, I want the angry tooth fixed. I’m not concerned with the color of the paint in the room, the potpourri, the hygienist’s ideology. It’s a matter of pain. Can this place take the pain away and make the tooth stable again?

We need to think about politics more like this and less about heroes and villains in some big wrestling match. Life is not WWE. Politics shouldn’t be either. Unfortunately, it’s turned into that — an adrenaline-fueled spectacle sport rooted in identity warfare and completely, and tragically, divorced from practical matters. Right now, we desperately need to cut back on all the over-emotionalism and focus more on objective professionalism for the betterment of everyone.

For instance, I think police officers need much better pay and training. They have an incredibly difficult job, and I don’t want to live in a world where I can’t call 911 and have an officer respond if there’s a real problem. Obviously, more resources need to be put toward mental health and drug-abuse services, but I am not in favor of defunding the police, who are already underpaid. That said, officers also need to be held to a very high standard of professionalism. If there are clear acts of malice by any officers, then those in charge must act professionally and get rid of those who forsake this immensely important profession. Any circling of wagons around bad actors taints a system. The higher ideal always needs to be the integrity of the profession itself, not the maintenance of any brotherhood that excuses bad behavior.

Obviously, that’s true for journalism, too. The integrity of information should outweigh profit motive. Society needs and deserves this but isn’t getting it at many levels. There are some things that could be done. I have so much to say on this matter, which consumes my thoughts. Future column.

We need internet services that are reliable. We need roads that don’t crumble and food that is safe and abundant. We need schools that are safe and full of learning. We need to have health care priced in a realm that makes sense on the planet Earth. It doesn’t right now, no sense at all.

These things are all made worse — not better — by blind partisanship.

That’s because party loyalty is a terrible substitute for professionalism. Our values in this way are out of whack — we overvalue party loyalty and undervalue actual professionalism. I like the Georgia Bulldogs, but I want the plane flown by a Tech grad if he or she is a better pilot. Is this stupid of me?

Likewise, I want the freedom, as an American, to agree with some aspects of a party and disagree with others. And I want all politics focused on making things better for the whole of society, never worse.

Why does all this talk make me feel like a naïve child? I guess what I’m saying sounds impossible in 2020 America, the land of “get mine.” The nation is too entrenched into us/them at the moment to establish any greater, all-encompassing “us.”

No doubt, I’m to the left of many of you, but I can say that I don’t favor defunding the police. That doesn’t seem sensible to me. If you support Trump, can you say you don’t favor crippling the Post Office prior to the election? Honestly, it would simply be good to hear from some Trump voters who break with him on this matter. Why? Because our systems matter — the Post Office included! We need it professionally operated, not gutted for anyone’s political purposes.

If a kid tears up his test, turns it in, then claims the test was faulty or unfair, does he deserve an A? I’m sorry, but that’s what the Post Office fiasco feels like right now with our president. You can’t sabotage a system, such as the United States Postal Service, then claim to be a victim of the system you damaged.

Any president should work to ensure the efficiency of elections, no matter what’s at stake for them personally. That’s called professionalism.

I guess that’s my naïve, childlike brain at work again. Maybe I’m just a fool for being this way.

But I prefer this version of myself to my road rage brain. I don’t like that in myself. And I don’t like that in our nation.

Keep the police. Keep the Post Office. Make all of our systems better, not worse.

America 2020 — let’s just be professional about it. There’s my motto.

Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal, a sister newspaper of The Barrow News-Journal. He can be reached at zach@mainstreetnews.com.

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