This is probably one of the most difficult columns I have ever had to write. What do you say on the day after the election following one of the most contentious Presidential races in our nation’s history? The polls have long been closed and once again we find ourselves with a very tight race. The results will not be known before the deadline for this article. We may or may not know who the winner is before the paper is printed.
In my half century of seriously following politics, I have never known a more divisive time. In my lifetime we survived the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, economic turmoil, and planes flying into the World Trade Center. We have sent some of our brightest and best to fight and die around the world.
I have lived to see the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, the economic and military rise of China, and the worst health crisis in the past century. I have seen the collapse of Sears, A&P, Montgomery Ward, and Eastern Airlines. I have seen the ascent of Facebook, Google, and Amazon.
But this feels different. Families are being torn apart. Friendships are breaking up over differences of opinion about an election. We are rabid about our positions, unwilling or unable to hear an opposing point of view.
All of that is bad enough when we are in the middle of the campaign. We have a light at the end of the tunnel, thank goodness, that gives us comfort that the ugliness will end soon. The tough question is will it really end? Are we prepared to accept the foundations on which our democracy was built? Will we accept the will of the majority and unite as a nation once again?
I reside in the middle, a moderate that believes that there is good and bad on both sides of the aisle. Our nation is much too complex to boil it down to one or two issues, even if that is all that is important to you. There is no person, politician or party that has it all right. Even if they did, there is no path to greatness without some way to include more than 50 percent of the population.
Half the people of this country will be mad when the vote is finally tabulated. Some will feel cheated. Some will not believe what they hear, read, or see. Some will refuse to accept the results or the outcome, regardless of whether Trump or Biden wins.
We must face the fact that individually we cannot do much but wait at this point. The election will play out with network talking heads giving opposing views. It will play out with social media giving little or no thought to truth or facts. We will likely have the courts and lawyers involved even more, making a bad situation worse.
There is one thing that others cannot control about us, the individual American voter. The individual voter is your friend, family member, church family, fraternity brother, business partner, civic club member, neighbor, employee, and customer. They are part of the fabric of your life. How do you respond to those who were part of your life before this election, but happened to disagree about the best person to lead us forward?
My answer is simple to state, but difficult to carry out. Do not gloat. If your candidate wins, do not shout wildly as if you won a football game. Some of the people you care about will be hurting. They love this country just as you do.
On the other hand, if your candidate loses, do not despair. The world has not come to an end and our nation is not on a death spiral towards total destruction. Do not sabotage our future by having no hope in our collective path forward.
Those we elect are not this country. We, the people, the citizens of this two-hundred-and-fifty-year experiment we call democracy, are the heart and soul of America. We are divided politically but have more in common than we give ourselves credit for.
Do not gloat. Do not despair. Have faith and ask for God’s providence over these United States of America.
Dan Ponder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org