If you’re like me, you’ve felt that this election season has been much more spirited than previous midterm contests. And, again if you’re like me, you’ve found yourself invested in the issues, the candidates, the campaigns and the prognostications about the importance of this election.
The results will be in this week, and when all the dust settles, another battle will commence. And it is to that battle that I wish to direct your thoughts through my comments here.
Whether it is Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning or even later, at some point we’re going to read or hear about who won in the various contests. And, depending on your view and vote, you’ll be either happy or disappointed. What you may not think about is that those whose views and votes were different from yours will also be either happy or disappointed. And therein lies the battle.
The greater evil will not be that some lost and some won. The greater evil will be that we are still divided, and too often rancorously so. So, I’d like to give some suggestions about handling what we might call the “post-election elation/disappointment schism potential.” Yes, I made that up myself!
Here’s what I dread. I greatly fear that winning will engender arrogantly puffed chests, cries of “now we’re going to have it our way,” and even worse, more years of vindictive policies, self-benefiting programs, and divisive, mean-spirited rhetoric, especially on the national stage.
And, I’m just as fearful that losing will bring about a determination to stall, oppose and hinder what might be done to actually improve our country.
No, I am not suggesting that differences don’t matter, and we just need to “get along.” What I am asking is this. Can we refrain from making everything a divisive issue that can be harangued on and kept in play so it can be used in the next election? Can we stop looking at what our opponents are doing wrong and see what we can agree on, and do for the public good?
To start, maybe we can follow this playbook. If your side comes out on top, how about you don’t gloat? How about you realize that with power comes responsibility, and set your mind to hold “your side” accountable to actually do some good? Wouldn’t it be great if, two years from now, regardless of who won, we could agree that we’re better off, and maybe even a bit more cordial all around?
And for those of you whose votes didn’t add up to victory, try very hard not to let defeat engender wrath and a disposition set on criticizing everything and everyone. How about you put aside your disappointment and join in where you can agree?
I admit I have partisan views. I also know that there are a whole host of things we all can – or at least should! – agree need to be implemented, or fixed, or axed. This is especially true when we cast our eyes more locally than nationally.
Whoever said “all politics are local” was really on to something. But he or she didn’t go far enough. For local politics to work, the locals must be able to talk, and listen, and unite around the common good, despite their differences.
By the way, that’s been the formula that has for years made Santa Clarita a great place to live, work, raise families and grow old. Let’s agree to work together where we are, to shave the edges off our rhetoric in the name of being good neighbors, and pray that we can continue keeping anger, wrath, slander, duplicity and dishonesty out of our political arena.
After all, regardless of what the votes end up saying, we all want Santa Clarita to win, and that only happens if, in the end, we’re all winners in the race to be courteous, reasonable, well-informed and humble people. And who knows? We might just find there are good and helpful things we can agree on, work to accomplish, and enjoy the satisfaction of setting a good example for our friends, neighbors and children.
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.