By Kevin Martin
Because this piece will be published after the election, I do not know, as I write, who has won. Thus, I cannot talk about what the results are or may be. Instead, I believe it would be time well spent for us to reflect upon our political climate and ourselves in order to better each another and our shared country. The political discourse we see in our daily lives is deeply troubling and detrimental to the longevity of this country. Thus, it falls upon all of us to see the humanity in each other and act accordingly to promote the dignity of every American citizen.
After this election season, we must come together as Americans. I am not contending that we need to agree on policy issues or anything of that nature; there will always be disagreements on these matters. Rather, what I mean to say is that it is essential for us, on the one hand, to return to the idea that Americans can agree on basic principles; and, on the other, to maintain compassion for our friends, family members and fellow citizens, despite our remaining political differences. It is my belief that finding common American values, while creating and strengthening our communities, is essential to the preservation our shared nation.
Truthfully, there is little hope that our country can succeed for much longer if we, as Americans, become too entrenched in the impression that our political opponents’ ascension into power will bring about the demise of our democratic republic. As soon as any of us begins to believe that those opposed to our political aspirations are an existential threat to our existence, it grants us the right to do anything within our ability to prevent them from acquiring power. This type of thinking enables attempted assassinations, such as the congressional baseball shooting in 2017; it facilitates the politically motivated kidnapping attempts that almost took place this year in Wisconsin. These ideas transform physical threats against your political opponents from a felony to a civil duty, and the prevention of your political adversaries from taking part in the political process becomes an unfortunate necessity. We must not allow ourselves to adopt this view of politics.
We need to reject the adoption of these foolish ideas and begin to trust, once again, that our political adversaries also want what is best for America. As we move forward, we ought to focus on what might bring us together, rather than fixating on what divides us. We must reach into the depths of America’s soul to forge an identity both old and new, one whose light flickers but has never yet been extinguished: a dream of freedom for all. It must be a hopeful dream: not, as now, a mountain whose rocky ledges and dark precipices have so engrossed our imagination that we are unwilling to continue on our journey. Nor is this freedom a frivolous freedom: it is a freedom filled with duty, a freedom that bestows honor on those who grasp it. For America is the manifestation of the belief that humankind, made up of individual human beings, can do the right thing; that individuals must not be compelled by any authority on earth to do what that authority might think is good. It is the ultimate statement of confidence in our free will. Previous ages entrusted to government the duty of instilling virtue, but our founders dared to have faith that, freed from the managing hand of authority, we might unfold the full potential of man to rise towards virtue. We must not betray that belief; for if this experiment in freedom fails, what hope is there that another shall succeed? We must grasp that freedom, latch ourselves onto it, but not with selfish, greedy fingers: we must take that freedom for what it is—a challenge to greatness. Let us not hide America’s light under the bushel basket of hatred, selfishness, petty jealousy, cowardice and fear.
Whoever wins this election does matter, but what is truly critical is that we act with grace and humility throughout these coming days, weeks and months. We cannot continue to proceed with the irresponsible notion that a large portion of this country, our fellow Americans, cannot be trusted with political power or their right to their freedoms due to our differences. Keeping in mind the dignified humanity of our fellow Americans, we ought to move past this election with goodwill towards one another and a desire to secure the shared American identity that this great country has to offer to every one of us.