In the first sunrise that followed what has been one of the most unique presidential elections in the history of the United States, we found we are much more united than we are divided.
The pundits are still talking red states and blue states, urban liberal conclaves and conservative rural voter metrics, and they will. Talking heads are paid to talk and consensus makes boring television.
It’s hard to forget months and months of metered and pointed rhetoric, advertising, social media and marketing designed to pull us apart in hopes of winning the vote of whichever demographic we fell in on a chart somewhere.
It’s even harder when it contained more hate-filled messages than we’ve seen in generations.
But if you look at the honest to goodness numbers, the election may have been close, the message was a landslide consensus of one people divided by their common frustration.
If you don’t believe this, check out the Edison Research exit poll data utilized by The Associated Press. The most important issue — the economy.
Those 52 percent of us then divided themselves nearly evenly between Hillary Clinton (52 percent) and president-elect Donald Trump (42 percent).
Most of us are concerned about the state of the economy and its slow recovery from the Great Recession. We were just divided on the best approach and most attractive promises after that fact.
More interesting but just as direct, the next top priorities among voters — in order — were foreign policy, immigration and terrorism. What is noteworthy is that immigration reform and battling terrorism are directly impacted by the foreign policy adopted by this administration and administered in the name of the United States. Call it foreign policy and 60 percent listed it as their most important issue voted for Clinton. Break it down to immigration and Trump pulled 64 percent, terrorism and it was 57 percent for Trump.
The thing is, those are really just vocabulary choices and they show how we’ve been divided and categorized to be influenced. At the end of the day, we’re all concerned about the security of our nation and how it interacts on the world stage to provide that security.
And again we were analyzed and divided into subsets of common belief in an effort to win our vote.
That’s the nature of campaigns. It’s what they do. It’s how they win elections.
It just isn’t so good the day after, when we should be getting down to the brass tacks of moving forward as one nation. When we’ve been listening to and joining in the vilifying for so long, it’s hard to consider the merit in the other guy’s thoughts and recognize that there is fact a lot of common ground and plenty of room for compromise on the big issues. We’re not talking government’s role in our bedrooms or bathrooms, or who can smoke what and where, or the tax on sugary drinks. What we’re talking about is this: if we leave the true big issues untended, they can turn into a binary solution set of, “Either we act for the continuation of our nation, or we ignore ourselves into extinction.”
It isn’t enough anymore to say “No, I don’t like that.”
Our nation needs and deserves better from all of us at this juncture.
We need ideas, suggestions and ways to enact the resulting solutions that supersedes the griping, sniping and finger-pointing.
The luxury of obstructionism for obstructions’ sake — and to generate those precious talking points for the next election — is done. The sad idea of not voting for anything that is not 100 percent the way I want it has already cost us too much. The clock that has been ticking on these frivolous political games has nearly run out.
The message from Tuesday was pretty clear about inaction inside the beltway.
We all know we have problems.
We all know they need to be addressed.
We differ in the details on how they should be addressed, but while our middle class evaporates and the expectations for our children to have a better life than we enjoyed evaporates with it; while we watch the cracks in our dams and bridges grow wider; while we remain the primary target of extremists who target our civilians and embrace the tenets of terror tactics; while we look out on a world stage where not one, but two other nuclear powers, are showing the ominous signs of territorial aggression in Eastern Europe and the South China Sea; we must accept that our time to say “It must be done my way, or not at all” is at an end.
The president-elect inherits a majority in both houses of Congress, but one that is riddled by internal fractures, and one that largely distanced itself from his campaign. It’s a recipe for loud and entertaining rhetoric covering up vast amounts of inaction.
If we’re all tired of that — and we certainly voted that way nearly unanimously, no matter what name we actually selected on our ballot — then we must be the ones to first admit we can step back from manufactured extremes, be willing to accept an answer that may not be our own preference, and clearly signal to those we’ve just put in power that we are willing to do so, that the onus of moving forward is now on them, and that we won’t be accepting excuses nor be distracted by the analysts the next time we step into the voting booth.