It\u2019s been a long, bruising political season that won\u2019t end with Tuesday\u2019s municipal elections, though that would be great. Negative politics can stifle voter participation, according to a library shelf\u2019s worth of nonpartisan studies. By slinging mud, calling names and misbehaving, some people who are rude with their politics succeed only in driving others away from the polls. This is a bad system that feeds on itself. The meaner we get, the less engaged become some voters, and a less engaged citizenry means a less representative democracy. Even without negative campaigning, that\u2019s the way it usually goes during most municipal election years \u2014 unless you live in a town such as Guilford, which on Election Day saw upward of half of its eligible voters go to the polls. In most towns, though, mudslinging moves people to stay away in droves, to the peril of the rest of us. We are, at some point, going to have to knock this off and come together. It won\u2019t be pretty, and it won\u2019t be easy, but I know it can happen because I\u2019ve seen it. In what was then a mostly Democratic state, my parents were Republicans, but that wasn\u2019t the half of it. In 1968, my mother may have joined the more-than-a-handful of Missouri voters who cast a ballot for George Wallace. That year, Wallace broke away from the Democratic Party because it was leaving behind some of its more racist tendencies, while Wallace was still hoisting the Confederate battle flag. My mother only hinted that Wallace got her vote that year, and I don\u2019t blame her. If you voted for Wallace in 1968, a secret ballot helped hide your shame. Wallace the man may have seen the light as he drew closer to his eternal reward, but in 1968, Wallace the candidate was still willing to stand in a door \u2014 any door \u2014 to defend segregation. My grandparents \u2014 my mother\u2019s parents \u2014 were Democrats, of the Harry S. Truman variety. During the Depression, they credited the Democratic Party for bringing electricity to their corner of Arkansas. The ability to flip a switch and turn night into day earned their lifelong political gratitude. My grandparents believed that Democrats were for the working people \u2014 particularly the working poor, a category into which my family fit neatly. My parents believed the Republican Party would lead this country to greatness. Their political conversations were loud and lusty and not terribly well-sourced, though they were all well-read. In a world stripped of folderol, voting was their holy rite. A half-year shy of my 18th birthday, I wore a \u201cThe Grin Will Win\u201d button to school on Election Day. I\u2019d been listening to the back and forth my entire life, and I studied the magazines that came to our house. Jimmy Carter, a fellow evangelical, looked like my candidate, or he would have been had I been old enough to vote. I thought everyone at my high school would agree with me, so imagine my confusion when first period was spent arguing the merits of Gerald Ford \u2014 who seemed like a nice man, but he\u2019d let Nixon go free, and as Grandpa said, Nixon was crooked as a dog\u2019s hind leg, so no. Some of my more Republican classmates had done their homework, and by lunchtime, I was exhausted \u2014 exhilarated, but exhausted from the discussions. The difference from today, of course, is that my high school classmates and my mother and her parents didn\u2019t then go home to fire volleys at one another on social media. We ate together and spent time in one another\u2019s homes. We disagreed over various candidates\u2019 merits, yet we still pulled over to give each other rides on cold mornings. We saw no reason to hate or demonize one another. Two generations later, my brother and I cheerfully remain political opposites, and our discussions generally devolve thus: \u201cYou\u2019re stupid.\u201d \u201cNo, you\u2019re stupid.\u201d \u201cI\u2019m hungry.\u201d \u201cLet\u2019s eat.\u201d See what happens there? We argue \u2014 still well-read and still shamefully free of sources \u2014 but we do not question each other\u2019s humanity. Instead, we\u2019ve spent time getting to know how we each came to our respective politics. We may not agree with the other\u2019s destination, but we appreciate the journey. That level of trust only happens when you spend time IRL \u2014 in real life, away from the keyboard and the swill of online lies, which is not easy to do. As Facebook whistle-blower Frances Haugen recently said, \u201cIt\u2019s easier to inspire people to anger than it is to other emotions.\u201d We slide down the greased pole of the outrage machine and let loose the hounds, with nary a thought as to how that hurts democracy. And here is where I should insert a meme of a cute toddler waving an American flag. U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger is a Republican from Illinois who voted to impeach the former president. He recently announced he won\u2019t seek another term. I disagree with him politically, but I appreciate his integrity. Should he seek national office \u2014 and it\u2019s rumored he will \u2014 I won\u2019t vote for him, but I won\u2019t call him names, either. I doubt he\u2019ll notice, but there you are. I\u2019m exhausted, but no longer exhilarated by the discussions. So, on Tuesday, I voted because I want my little town to succeed, and by succeed, I mean I want affordable housing, good schools, paved streets and opportunities for all. I want a healthy economy. I want things to be fair. Maybe you do, too. Susan Campbell is the author of \u201cFrog Hollow: Stories from an American Neighborhood,\u201d \u201cTempest-Tossed: The Spirit of Isabella Beecher Hooker\u201d and \u201cDating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism and the American Girl.\u201d She is Distinguished Lecturer at the University of New Haven, where she teaches journalism.