While this will post two days after the election, it is Wednesday morning as I write it. The tea leaves are still floating, so to speak, and it is hard to predict what it means to have spent $6 billion on an election that has us exactly where we were before it started (Obama White House, Republican House and Dems in the Senate). It seems to me that’s not a mandate.
Worse, most of us were pretty unhappy with where we started.
I have two Faceboook accounts; one where I connect with personal friends, colleagues, and so on, the other focused on my breast cancer advocacy. To be fair, the breast cancer community is far more diverse than my “personal” page. It reaches across the country (even around the world) and most assuredly across party lines. Much of what I have read has opened my eyes to people and arguments I’d have otherwise never seen.
Some of it is just open hostility toward the “other,” which makes me profoundly sad. But I’ve also learned a great deal from following the dialogue in both the Romney and Obama camps.
Throughout this election season my family has tried to hear both sides, from The New Republic to the National Review, from FOX News to MSNBC. We have acknowledged the biases and tried to fairly argue both sides of the issues we care about. We have tried to LISTEN first, and advocate second.
To be fair, I do this because it strengthens the argument when I understand the other side’s concerns and have a cogent response. It also helps me remember that mine are just opinions…I don’t necessarily know more than the “other side” and I’m not necessarily more right. I have worked hard to look past the deeply disappointing hatred on both sides (and it is this that worries me above all else), for the thoughtful, educated voices.
It remains to be seen what happens next…
Will our leaders hear and heed our frustration?
Will not having to run again will allow the President to reach more openly across the aisle?
Will Republicans can set aside the primary focus on denying Obama a second term long enough to govern and lead?
Will Democrats respond openly or spitefully?
Will, can, both sides recognize, above all else, that the vitriol is not good for America or Americans?
I have probably been pretty clear about where I sit on the political spectrum (in some small part because as an 11-year cancer-fighter I AM planning to live long enough to hit my maximum annual payout and I DO stay up nights worrying about pre-existings for myself and my family). While I am relieved that President Obama has another for years to turn our country around, I also believe it is a very tall order and if he can do it at all, he cannot do it alone.
I don’t know what happens next, but I know this: I pray that our leaders – ALL our leaders – will answer the challenges that face us with cool heads and open hearts. I hope they put the American people before partisan politics. I hope they listen before they lead. I hope they remember both who put them in office, and who they work for.
They say you can’t complain if you don’t vote. But we know that’s not true. We CAN complain. In fact, it is our civic duty. Our representatives can’t speak for us if we don’t speak up! Write. Call. Email. Visit their offices. Tell them what you think and why. I have had the good fortune of speaking out on issues obscure enough that I’ve gotten a call BACK asking for more information. Democracy is complicated and hard, and it isn’t always clean. And it often doesn’t go our way. But we still decide if we are helpless, or if we want to be part of the change our country needs.
Elections are just a moment in time. They wrought transitions, to be sure, but they are not everything. Democracy is a process. There was a moment in time when it had a beginning, but it doesn’t start and stop with inaugurations. And it’s waiting for your voice whenever you are ready!
God Bless America