Post-election 2016: the easy part is over



Greetings, people of the future. As I am writing this column the Sunday before the election, I have no idea who our new president is.

And that’s a good thing because what I need to say should be free of even a tinge of the bias that Tuesday’s outcome might have otherwise made in my mind.

Like many of you, I’m not a fan of either candidate. Both of them seemed to have pasts riddled with questionable behavior. I think, in a country of 300-or-so-million folks, we could have done much better.

(I still think Jeb Bush was the best candidate on the right, and Martin O’Malley would have been a much better choice on the left.)
But, none of that matters now.

We ended up with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Sure, we could argue about which one of our finalists would have been better—or the least worst—for the country. But, that’s not the point I’d like to make.

The most important thing we can do as a nation, after this long season of emotional manipulation, of jeers and lies, of poisonous politicking, is to come together as Americans.

I know, it sounds like a cliched throwaway line in some political hack’s stump speech … but hear me out.

It’s normal to be gleeful or disappointed after any contest, especially a major election. But it’s good to remember that our lives don’t stop or start with who wins the presidency.

And, what concerns me most is the notion that people with differing political ideologies are mortal enemies.

Regardless of who is in charge of the Oval Office, we have meals to cook and mail to deliver and roads to build and children to teach and patients to treat and fires to fight and news to report.

All the great things that America is come from cooperation—men and women from every different religion and race and political party working together to uphold our ideals of equality and liberty.

We get the governance we deserve because we are the government.

The government isn’t some faceless enemy trying to do us wrong.

The government is your uncle the city councilman, or your aunt the state senator, it’s your sister the cop and your brother the soldier, your mom the school teacher and your dad the DNR officer.

If we are a shining city on a hill, it’s because we’re not a monarchy or a brutal Third World dictatorship handing down rules at the whim of a very few.

We have checks and balances in every level of government, from the smallest township board of trustees all the way up to the office of the President of the United States.

We volunteer, we serve, we vote and we opine; sometimes we get the candidate we want and sometimes we don’t. But the reason we stay strong, the reason we do not descend into chaos after every election—as so many Banana Republics do—is because we have faith in our democratic system, and love of the Great American Ideal.

We are mature enough as a nation to understand that we don’t always get what we want, and that we can still have happy productive and free lives even when those we disagree with are in power.

Ultimately, because we’re a free society, you don’t have to cooperate.

Those of us unhappy with the election results can piss and moan and drag our feet and threaten to do awful things and generally throw a temper tantrum in order to make everyone else miserable … and possibly do some real harm.

(I spent eight years irate that Bill Clinton was president and it yielded nothing but heartburn.)

Besides, I don’t think that’s the kind of world we want to live in.

I don’t think that’s the kind of America we want to leave for our kids.

We’ve already seen what years of Washington gridlock hasn’t accomplished for our country.

We’ve already watched too many people focus their energy on destroying their political opponents rather than building up America’s infrastructure.

On Nov. 9, when it’s all said and done, we have a choice: resist or reconcile.

We can build America up or we can tear it down.

Someone once said you shouldn’t let “perfect” destroy “good enough.”

Well, I say America is better than good enough.

Are we going to let our desire for perfection—getting exactly what we want—fuel the childish and destructive urges to blow up what we have in spite of ourselves?

I won’t.

I can’t.

I love this country too much to see it slip—or pushed—into bedlam.

And I hope you feel the same.