Post-Election 2012: It’s Time To Move Forward
by Adrienne Edwards | University of Pennsylvania
To put it crudely – It’s not over until the Fat Lady sings. In this case, she didn’t bellow until the 11th hour – Voters waited until the last minute to see which way the election would go. Now, the day after the election, with 97% of districts reporting, Obama has won with at least 303 electoral votes. It’s over.
There can only be one winner. Those, including myself, celebrating an Obama victory must solemnly remember that about 60 million people voted for the other guy. John F. Kennedy used to carry around a slip with the number 118, 574 on it, reminding him of the amount of votes by which he won the White House. A constant recognition that so many others do not agree with you and yet you are still making decisions that affect them brings a spirit of humility and reflection that the country needs.
It is only humility and reflection that will get us through this transitional time. And after a grueling, prolonged campaign season, it’s time for less posturing. It’s time to remember that while we have our opinions, our ideological camp may not have all the answers on every political issue. It’s time to reflect on how politics became so deeply hateful and disrespectful. Politics can be strategic without being demoralizing. It’s not a new concept that we have grown exceedingly polarized, but it’s reached a necessary turning point when there is more concern for which side will win the latest conflict than on how we function together as a country.
President Obama won, not because he gives “handouts” to those supposedly lazy and useless minorities or because women are just so damn addicted to their contraception. Romney lost, not because the red states only have racist voters and people just looking to defeat President Obama. Policy-making is much more complicated than these reductionist notions which both parties use, and it’s time we rise above them.
The level of polarization in this country is not only distorting and exhausting, it’s downright dangerous. When Congress can’t get anything done, the country can’t grow. There is nothing more damaging to a country than stagnancy. As we look forward to an increasingly hostile political climate and a divided Congress, we have to remember that the other party is not the enemy. As much as others have said it and as ‘after-school special’ as it sounds, we really are all in this together.
We, as a nation and as fellow citizens, need to start asking each other questions harder than ‘Who will control the Senate?’ Questions like: Why is it that a once moderate Republican leading a fairly progressive state was brought to a severely conservative stance to win his party’s primary? Why is it that so many people were only interested in defeating President Obama despite what that would mean for the country? What is at the heart of the difference in our political opinions and why is it that we are unwilling to budge from our current stances? If we can’t ever come to agree, where do we go from here?
That remains the biggest question: What do we do now? Where we go from here is not only decided by those sitting in Washington D.C. It’s a decision for everyone to make. We can continue to demonize our political opponents and dismiss their policies with disgust. Or we can look for common ground and values that we share to build understanding. It’s time to stop demanding bipartisanship from our leaders when we don’t practice it ourselves. It is only then that we can both believe in America and move forward.Adrienne Edwards is a voices contributor for Next Gen Journal. She is currently studying Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Pennsylvania.