Were you shocked at the outcome of the election? If you were, it could very well be that you live in a political echo chamber (It’s a place where the only thing you ever hear is the repetition of your own opinions).
I’ve been in your shoes…
My parents were both union members, and staunch FDR Democrats. I attended a very liberal Jesuit High School (I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but it’s true. We were encouraged to read and study subjects you’d never find in any public high school). And from there, I attended one of the most liberal universities in the West.
I knew conservatives and Republicans existed, but in my world, they were far and few between. So naturally, I assumed the whole country was that way.
The first political shock of my life came in the election of 1980, when everyone I knew supported then President Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan waxed him in a landslide. I was absolutely flummoxed. How could it be that no one I knew voted for the guy, and he won by a landslide?
My second political shock came the next year, when I moved from Missoula, (San Francisco North) to Billings (Ronald Reagan, Montana,) and I became one of the few and far between.
Then I moved to Ontario, Oregon, and learned, much to my absolute shock, there were places even more conservative than Billings.
I’m more than familiar with hearing political opinions that differ from mine. Most of you aren’t.
Throughout this year, I saw the pickups with the Trump flags, all the Trump signs, and all the rest. I heard the conversations, demonizing us devil Democrats. And I couldn’t help but suspect should this election not turn out the way most people in my area thought it would, many, if not most would, like me in 1980, be flummoxed that everyone they knew held one political opinion, while a majority of the country went a different direction.
Well, dudes, as someone who’s trod in your political cowboy boots, let me give you some comfort.
Some bad things are going to happen over the next four years, oh, yes they are. Some of it will be the fault of elected officials, some of it won’t. But good things are going to happen, too. That’s the way the world works.
Most importantly, though, the ultimate saving grace of this place known as America is America isn’t about a singular political ideology. It’s a a political idea. And a damned good political idea at that. We’re designed to be a constant work in progress, and progress we’ve done for over two centuries. America is bigger than you or me or any politician or political movement. Good ideas are like that.
Hence, for over 200 years, power has peacefully transitioned, because Americans had faith in our foundation and our institutions. And if things don’t turn out our way this election, we know there’s going to be another one in two years for the House and some of the Senate, four years for the president and six years for other members of the Senate.
We always have the peace of mind of knowing change is just one election away.
If you want it.
Will this be the time in our history when we lose that faith? I sincerely hope not. Too many people have sacrificed everything to become Americans. Too many have fought to protect, defend and perpetuate America. Too many Americans have struggled for an American idea, an American ideal and an American dream for us to childishly toss it aside because we didn’t get our way this time.
Politicians are like buses. There’s always going to be another rumbling down the road (Also, like buses, politicians generally smell bad, are way too loud and they break down way too often, but I digress).
Still, America is bigger than parties and ideologies and petty partisan squabbles. But it’s only bigger than all those things if we want it to be.
Our desire to be free keeps us free. The choice is ours.