The vote–the day after

Well, it’s the day after the elections and W has won again. With all of the earlier back and forth by the candidates and what seemed to be the most partisan campaign in my short memory (I just realized that I am now about 2/3 my parent’s age), what do we do that makes it seem to make our version of democracy work? Watching John Kerry’s concession speech this afternoon, a co-worker remarked, “That’s what leaves other countries scratching their heads. After all of the shouting, we come back together as Americans and pick up where we left off. In other countries they might try to kill the opposition. Here we try to embrace them.” I think that I would go much further as to say why. We have done all this as Americans, because of the Christian virtue of forgive and forget still runs deep in the country.

Although, I wonder if we are beginning to see that platitude of forgive and forget beginning to show stress. The reason I say this, is because of the last 4 years. In Texas, then Gov. Bush was known as one who could easily unite the two sides and get things done. After the 2000 election, instead of letting it go, it seemed that there was a marked number of people that thought that Bush had somehow rigged election or gotten in without earning it and that he was somehow an illegitimate victor. I can understand how easy this can be to not put aside our feelings, but in politics, it seems to be a necessary thing to do.

Now follow my logic on this, as the country is now in its post-modern phase, we are beginning to see some things that, at least in my mind, are things that fly in the face of that virtue. As it seems that more people don’t tolerate other’s differences and fewer forgive and forget. I think that some ways, this seems to be the reason that the country seemed to be as polarized as it is and to some why it looks like we are fragmenting. George Will on the ABC News coverage made an interesting observation. We are becoming more like Europe in that we are becoming more hard core partisan.

My prayer is that what John Kerry said in his concession speech about waking up as Americans the next day and healing the wounds from the race takes hold. Because I would like to think that my friend at work was right. But not that we should leave the world scratching their heads, but be the example of cooperation after great division.

The vote–the day after

  1. Tom says:

    First, Jeff, a correction. You are not yet 2/3 my age…you are getting close, but it will take you almost seven more years! (That is one dog year.)You just about are there vis-a-via Du Momma.

    The most bitter election in my memory was 1968. And it was not just Humphrey against Nixon, it was the electorate against the Democratic Party. We were living in Chicagoland and the Democrat convention was held there that summer. There were marches and riots. Mayor (the original)Daly turned the police loose on the “Chicago Seven” and really had the radical element worked up. The National Guard was on the freeways…it was a trip. Nixon beat Humphry and the rest is history.

    Second, I do not expect the country to come together unless there is another attack like 9/11. We have a history of taking our politics seriously…remember, we are not that far removed from the Civil War. Six hundred thousand died in those four years. As a scientist, you know nature abhors a vacuum. There is no centerist position today that is politically possible. So you have the red states sucking all the anger in from the blue states. The issues are defined as moral, but really are ones of tolerance. My guess is that in fifty years, what we argued over in 2004 will not even be issues then. The other thing is that politicians make a living at opposing each other. No opposition, no need for another party (and that would be really bad). And so it goes. You saw a bit of the rankor from 1970 bubble up in the Swiftboat ads…but the issues of 68 were the war and civil rights. Remember Kent State? Remember the riots when MLK was shot? 1968, 69, 70,71,72 were terrible years, politically. The good thing is today people have not taken to the streets, yet. Thand God Gerald Ford let South Vietnam colappse and pardoned Nixon.
    But if we continue the course we are on look for the big cities to erupt. They have in the past and I would expect them to again in the future if the rhetoric gets really fired up. Sorry to throw my cynical fuel on the fire.

  2. Jeff Lutz says:

    Okay, I did say about. I realize that I will be 40 next year and that both of you are 60+. I’m almost to that point.

    I also said, my short memory. While I remember Kent State, I don’t remember much else. I value the insight that you bring because you have seen more than I.

    Your right that it would be bad not to have an opposition, I guess what I meant is that now we all have to work together. Whether that is possible, that’s what I pray for. If the Democrats and the Republicans, while disagreeing can amicably work together and dare say it, compromise, they may make some progress with what the people might actually want. However, not everybody will be happy the results. So we won’t lose the opposition.

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