Afterward

On the morning after, people wake up feeling either elated or depressed, or for some, even sick. It’s not a new phenomena after elections, especially big ones, to have some sort of visceral reaction to the results, but what’s surprising to me is that people don’t see the long-term big picture: there have been those who have had the same reactions to elections for years, and the country continues to function and continues to move forward without dissolving into chaos.

 

Every presidential election I can remember has been “the most important of our lives,” and I’m reasonably certain that most before that also had someone attach that weighty tag to it.

 

Carter/Ford in ’76 was important because the country needed to get out from under the cloud of Watergate and the looming energy crisis and economic downturn. Carter/Reagan in ’80 was important because the country needed to choose its path out of recession. Reagan/Mondale in ’84 was important because trickle-down economics and high military spending and the ballooning debt were going to crush future generations. It goes on, and after every one, there’s some group of people, represented by some tearful or angry interviewed supporter who’s sure the country can’t survive four years of whoever had just won.

 

So today, with Facebook filled with either gleeful or morose posts, and interviews on the radio and TV with people, I just want to remind everyone that part of the power of elections is people moving on and accepting what was just voted in by the majority.

 

But it’s too soon for that. The conservative right–which seems today to be very far right and very conservative–is in mourning for the country, which they’re certain has been lost to the immoral left and the gay agenda…Whatever that means. But they won’t listen to reason. Meanwhile, the left is thrilled, relieved and too anxious to try to push an agenda that they need to, at least for a while, back off on.

 

Because there’s that nasty “fiscal cliff” thing coming up fast. Neither side can afford to alienate the other right now.

 

There’s four more years of the status quo coming in the White House. We’ll see how the Congress shakes out in two years, but I’d expect it to continue to move toward the middle again. I think the electorate is tired of the yelling from both sides and wants to get back to the moderate position.

 

Personally, I’m pleased. Minnesotans rejected the extremes in almost all forms, with the only exception being the squeaker of a race between Michelle Bachmann and Jim Graves. On the national level, Republicans were revealed to be what they’ve been for a while–focused on a core group that is no longer representative of America (this is witnessed by the fact that 93% of black voters, and 70-some percent of hispanics, and huge numbers of women backed Democrats). You wonder how they’ll address this while still trying to cling to key parts of their platform.

 

Plenty to do going forward. Now’s the time for a Humphrey-type to emerge and really build a coalition.

 

See you tomorrow.