Usually, candidate forums in Wilton are pretty tame affairs. Those running, and those electing them, tend to be respectful. This year, however, partisanship has become evident and it goes beyond a few cheers and rounds of applause.

This is not to say people should not react to what candidates say, but a recent incident after the debate between Jim Himes and Harry Arora on Sunday afternoon crossed the line. A woman approached one of the candidates and called him “a hateful man.” It goes without saying, neither candidate is that.

It is clear as Election Day approaches, our town is divided politically and ideologically, perhaps as much as our country.

Them vs. Us is a common theme from our families, friends, neighbors, relatives and politicians. We cannot look at newspapers or social media, or turn on the television, without so many voices attacking the other side. Contrasting opinions no longer provide the background for educated debate, they spark deafening attacks upon one another, upon decency and in some ways, upon democracy.

In the last few years, it seems that some voters use their power in the booth to vote against someone, something or a political party as opposed to voting for someone, something, or a candidate that aligns with their beliefs. Instead of being drawn together by the symbolism in the American flag, it has turned into a rope used in a tug of war by all sides over what it means to be American.

Voting is a privilege that should be treated as such. And ballots in each and every race, regardless of level, should be cast for the best person for that particular job, not against the actions of another.

As Election Day approaches, let us look into our hearts and minds and not use that moment of power we hold as citizens to angrily sink the ship of an opposing political party or viewpoint. Instead, let’s be informed, open-minded United States citizens who use our vote as an oar of strength.

Together, with enough of us, we can advance the ship of our country over these rough waters and into calmer seas — before what our country has stood for and was built upon disappears into a sea of anger and despair.

There is nothing wrong with disagreeing or being passionate about one’s feelings. But voters should try to use those passions to make an educated vote.

On Election Day, political, personal and social agendas should certainly be considered. But they shouldn’t be the candidate you vote for, and the only winner you should care about is the United States.