Now it’s time to heal

Now what? For more than a year, Ch­ester County and the rest of the na­tion have en­gaged in the hand-to-hand com­bat that passes for our po­lit­i­cal process.

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION -

Ac­tu­ally, the found­ing fa­thers knew a lit­tle some­thing about the dan­gers of par­ti­san pol­i­tics.

To the best of our knowl­edge, no one has been chal­lenged to a duel in this ugly elec­tion sea­son.

No one ever said democ­racy was pretty.

If noth­ing else, the past year and the bat­tle that pit­ted Repub­li­can Don­ald Trump vs. Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton proved that.

The nom­i­na­tion of Trump by the GOP un­sheathed a new level of bit­ter, bare knuck­les cam­paign­ing.

The bil­lion­aire real es­tate mogul and real­ity TV host rel­ished in his ‘out­sider’ role, and railed con­stantly against a sys­tem he in­sisted was rigged against the av­er­age cit­i­zen. Trump’s bile struck a chord in a huge chunk of dispir­ited Amer­i­cans who be­lieve the sys­tem has past them by, rigged in fa­vor of give­aways for ‘out­siders.’

The Democrats in turn of­fered the per­fect tar­get for this new­found, Trump-fu­eled bile. No one will ever de­scribe Hil­lary Clin­ton as a per­fect can­di­date. She has bat­tled is­sues of trust and trans­parency. In the words of Trump World, she was the per­fect foe, the es­tab­lish­ment can­di­date.

Hil­lary Clin­ton was the face of sta­tus quo; Don­ald Trump was the vis­age of ou­trage, frus­tra­tion and a pentup anger fo­mented by years of con­ser­va­tive talk ra­dio, a Repub­li­can Congress that de­cided its pri­mary func­tion was pre­vent­ing a sec­ond Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The re­sult was about what you might ex­pect.

Par­ti­san grid­lock. But this time it brought with it an edge, an ug­li­ness not seen before.

A sin­gle word has seized the elec­torate over the past few weeks: Ten­sion.

Per­sonal re­la­tion­ships have been strained by this cam­paign. Fam­i­lies have been torn.

It was good to see long lines at the break of dawn yes­ter­day as Amer­ica em­braced the Demo­cratic process.

Now it’s time for the can­di­dates to do like­wise.

And that is re­gard­less who won. Now it’s time to mend. And heal. It won’t be easy. The win­ner will be ap­par­ent soon enough. We al­ready know the loser: Our po­lit­i­cal sys­tem has been shaken to its core.

The ar­rows have done their dam­age. This has not been a dis­pute about pol­icy. This is deeper, strik­ing at the heart of what it means to be Amer­i­can. It’s the per­sis­tent schism of racial strife, a vo­cif­er­ous anti-im­mi­gra­tion rhetoric. Throw in gen­der and class war­fare. Us vs. them. For­get who won and lost. We’ve all lost some­thing over the past two years.

We’ve lost our re­spect for our sys­tem, our pol­i­tics, our in­sti­tu­tions.

The United States of Amer­ica is any­thing but.

That must be Job One for the vic­tor. It won’t be easy. Vic­tory will be sup­plied by seg­ments of each’s base – Hil­lary Clin­ton boosted by woman and mi­nori­ties, and those with col­lege de­grees; Don­ald Trump by dis­af­fected white, work­ing class vot­ers.

Much of this stems from the Repub­li­cans’ choice of Trump, a man who kicked off his po­lit­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions by ques­tion­ing the le­git­i­macy and ci­ti­zen­ship of the na­tion’s first African-Amer­i­can pres­i­dent.

If that was not enough, he fol­lowed that up with one vol­ley af­ter an­other, tar­get­ing Mex­i­cans, Mus­lims and women.

He tapped into a long-sim­mer­ing anger that lay just be­neath the sur­face of many Amer­i­can’s psy­che.

His can­di­dacy brought it out into the open.

The win­ner now must salve the wounds of this ugly cam­paign. It starts this morn­ing. Re­gard­less who won.

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