Nov. 9, 2008
Watching the news and surfing my usual intarnet stomping grounds it strikes me everyone is at something of at a loss for words. The most massive and expensive political campaign in history, like a T. rex rampaging through a dilapidated trailer park, has finally passed, and like dazed and battered survivors climbing out from under the rubble, standing in the rain unable to think of anything but the awesome and terrifying spectacle they've endured, we are unsure just what we're supposed to be doing.
Both domestically and abroad, this election has garnered unprecedented levels of attention, but the depths of bitterness and intellectual dishonesty reached over the past eighteen months should be seen as just the capstone on a legacy of partisanship and infighting which has been sullying our national discourse since at least the time of Ronald Reagan. Over the past four presidents the debate in our country has reached a breaking point. How many times in the past eight years, conservatives, did you find yourself defending one of President Bush's policies you didn't entirely agree with, simply to balance out the overwhelming negativity poured on him, his party - and by extension yourself - by shrill, uninformed Democrats and our hyperreactionary media? Liberals, I'm sure I'm not the only one who, when faced with the argument well that was something Clinton left behind, found myself red in the face supporting a president I barely recall who was probably more flash than substance. Sound familiar?
If we are to make any progress as a nation - and by "make any progress" I mean prop up the economy, fix the housing debacle, extricate American soldiers from multiple global conflicts in a way which creates the least lasting damage, overhaul our educational system, achieve energy independence and sustainability, lower crime, amend tort law, figure out a way to make sure American kids have food and a way to get to the doctor, prevent the spread of intolerance and dangerous materials worldwide, cement America's position as a world leader in both morals and the market, and find out just what the hell Ann Coulter's issue is and help her get over it - we need, quite frankly, to stop acting like petulant children. There is a reason Americans are regarded in other countries as fat, impolite complainers, and it's not just because we let them see our reality television shows.
We need to cut a deal with each other if we're going to do this. Liberals, join with me in saying we won't poke fun at Sarah Palin* anymore. We'll cut out this "Bush is stupid", "Cheney is evil" nonsense and stick to important issues. We'll stop overreacting to harmless minutiae with media storms which do nothing to further our causes but everything to make us look like cowardly, elitist, aggessively anti-religion Marxists. That's the tit. Conservatives, we're looking for a little tat. Recall that questioning our President isn't anti-American. Consider that exposing people to information is the best way to ensure they make the right choice. And please start fact-checking your pundits; ours are bad and we'll try to fix that, too, but FOX News is beyond the pale. If we can all vow to keep at least this little bargain in place, we'll have laid a true foundation for bridging the gap that divides us. Cooperation on our big issues should be a piece of cake if we can all swallow a bit of our pride.
Regardless of who you supported in this election, we can all agree that the level of energy displayed by Americans during the campaign is a positive force of which we have not seen enough in recent memory. Don't let the national discussion stagnate just because your ears are still ringing from the receding crash and roar of the election. If you're happy your candidate won, don't just gloat on your blog. Do a google for "(your state) volunteer" and pick an issue you think is important. If you're depressed after last week's returns, don't bail on the process. Real political progress always happens locally, and your country still needs all the help you can spare.
Last Tuesday, I saw a change I can believe in. My countrymen got involved. Don't let the news vaccuum steal that momentum.
*Honestly, folks, let's lay off her already. The people of Alaska think she's doing fine as their Governor, and unless you live there you have nothing to complain about. Also, for God's sake look up the Peter Principle.