Now what do we do?

GA Voice - - A & E -

The elec­tion is fi­nally be­hind us, and many are left with empty chunks of time. Those hours that had been ded­i­cated to check­ing polls, watch­ing speeches and ar­gu­ing with your friends and fam­ily about who had the best de­bate per­for­mance have come to a mer­ci­ful end.

We have all wo­ken up with a se­ri­ous po­lit­i­cal hang­over and now we need to find our keys and start driv­ing home to the real world.

I re­cently watched an in­ter­view with David McCul­lough, the au­thor of Pulitzer-win­ning books on Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal fig­ures like John Adams and Harry Tru­man. He pointed out that de­spite the record amount of money spent on this elec­tion, there was really noth­ing of sub­stance pre­sented that would stand the test of time.

What qual­i­fies as sub­stance? Ac­cord­ing to McCul­lough it comes down to au­then­tic­ity. A po­lit­i­cal can­di­date that says what he or she feels, with­out wor­ry­ing about be­ing pop­u­lar, is a per­son who gets books writ­ten about them gen­er­a­tions later. It’s sad to watch us all get so worked up into an emo­tional fer­vor dur­ing an elec­tion, only to be un­able to re­call who the los­ing can­di­date was eight years from now.

Don’t be­lieve me? Try it. Here is the test: Give your­self 30 sec­onds to re­mem­ber the Repub­li­can Can­di­date Bill Clin­ton beat to gain a sec­ond term in of­fice. Now see how long it takes you to name Al Gore’s run­ning mate in 2000. The anger and par­ti­san in those elec­tions were the same as to­day. But how quickly we for­get.

Mov­ing for­ward, let’s start us­ing Face­book to bring peo­ple to­gether. This elec­tion, the true bat­tle­ground was on our so­cial net­work pages where fam­ily mem­bers de-friended each other in droves as Elec­tion Day got closer.

In the past, po­lit­i­cal ar­gu­ments ended once the fam­ily din­ner was over and some­one left early. Th­ese days, the bat­tles raged for hours as we ban­tered on­line back and forth about the deficit, the auto in­dus­try, Libya, binders full of women and Clint East­wood and his chair.

The goal now has to be to re­mem­ber that be­fore you were ar­gu­ing pol­i­tics with some­one, you bonded with them in some way. Find that bond again. Use so­cial me­dia to make your friends and fam­ily laugh for a change.

Both Democrats and Repub­li­cans have senses of hu­mor. Share funny pho­tos and fam­ily recipes for a month or so. My per­sonal tool of choice is cat videos. It is a fact that cat videos tran­scend race, pol­i­tics, gen­der and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

Go out­side and do some­thing that does not in­volve guard­ing your yard sign. I am guilty of keep­ing men­tal notes of which neigh­bor sup­ports which can­di­date. I have placed my own sign in the yard in elec­tions past, just to have that sign stolen, lead­ing to fu­ri­ous day­dreams of rig­ging cam­eras to catch the cul­prit in ac­tion.

But this year, I backed off that emo­tional ledge. I fo­cused on a new garden dur­ing the sum­mer and ea­gerly put up my Hal­loween dec­o­ra­tions as the weather chilled. I made a point to wave at my neigh­bors no mat­ter what sign was in their yard.

Go back to freely wear­ing red and blue with­out wor­ry­ing about the mes­sage you are send­ing. At some point in our po­lit­i­cal his­tory, the color red was as­signed the task of rep­re­sent­ing Repub­li­cans and the color blue got the job of pro­mot­ing Democrats.

But we have to re­mind our­selves that the col­ors of our coun­try are red, white, and blue. We all have di­verse opin­ions and by let­ting our­selves be placed on one of two teams, we be­come mis­char­ac­ter­ized and sim­pli­fied.

For­give. To­day is a new day in the his­tory of Amer­ica and it is time to walk away from the rhetoric and get busy cre­at­ing a stronger coun­try. So no mat­ter whether your can­di­date won or lost, leave your anger be­hind and move on.

In Jan­uary, we will in­au­gu­rate our pres­i­dent and in two and a half years or so, we get to do this all over again. En­joy the time off.

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