Tahlequah Daily Press

November 9, 2012

Time to set aside political differences


Tahlequah — In the wake of Tuesday’s controversial presidential election, many Americans continue to bicker about the outcome, and what it means for the future of the country. Polarization has become so acute between the two major political parties that families are being ripped apart at the seams.

Though Oklahoma was no “battleground” state, its residents nevertheless see themselves as combatants in a bitter war, and understandably so. Only two other states – Utah and Wyoming – logged a higher percentage of voters who chose Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama. It’s not a stretch to say that Oklahoma, despite its historical reputation as a bastion of blue-collar populism, is about as red as it gets in the 21st century.

But while a majority of Okies may be unhappy with Tuesday’s outcome, they owe it to themselves, and their friends and neighbors, to dust off their shoes and seek compromise where they can, for the good of the nation. And if they care about the country and state as a whole, they must respect – or at least tolerate – the diversity of opinion that granted Obama another four years at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Disappointment is to be expected, but it doesn’t need to devolve into personal attacks or cruel stereotypes – especially if they’re leveled against loved ones. Just because someone has a different viewpoint doesn’t make that person stupid, unpatriotic or a threat to the American way of life. The dissenters don’t deserve to be threatened with violence, or subjected to profanity-laced screeds assailing their character.

After the results of the election began to unfold Tuesday night, some of the most horrible things imaginable were posted on Facebook and other online forums – things that press the boundaries of both free speech and good taste. Those who voted for Romney were labeled wholesale as greedy and heartless; those who cast their ballots for Obama were called traitors and socialists. More than a few people – especially in Oklahoma and Texas – called for secession from the union.

These hotheads ought to be ashamed of themselves. This type of rage is serves no productive purpose, and makes America look foolish, and perhaps weak, in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Politics shouldn’t be a combat sport, and it shouldn’t ruin friendships or cause irreparable rifts in families. It should be a platform for meaningful dialogue and exchanges of ideas. Tempers will flare, and conversations will become heated, but at the end of the day, we should still be able to reach across the aisle and embrace our opponents – who, most of the time, aren’t really our opponents at all.

As trite as it sounds, we need to set aside our differences and work for a better America. And we need to demand that our elected officials, of whatever party, work toward that same goal, rather than holding to a single-minded purpose of destroying the “enemy.”

We’re all in this together, whether we like it or not.