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.
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.