Nation must unite after vote

How we heal the wounds is more important than the man elected to office Tuesday.

It’s hard to fathom, but Election Day has finally come and gone. Tuesday marked the end of a campaign season defined by harsh, partisan confrontations – confrontations that have divided our nation, our state, our campus and our friendships. Our work in this election is finished. We must remember, however, that our duty as U.S. citizens is never complete.

An effective democracy relies just as much on the trust as it does the participation of its members. Additionally, our controversial electoral system, in which the will of the states is placed above the direct will of the population at large, is not going to change before Inauguration Day.

That said, we must accept the will of our fellow Americans, the outcome of the electoral process and move forward. A recent Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll found that nearly 60 percent of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry supporters would be “very disappointed” if President George W. Bush were re-elected.

In fact, some Americans possess so much contempt for the president they claimed they would leave the country during a second Bush term. These expatriates-to-be would rather flee their problems than face them. Such a protest would be incredibly un-American, marking a considerable detriment to democracy.

The same goes for anti-Kerry defectors, if there are any in existence.

A political exodus would undermine the principles our founders fought to establish. Imagine if Alexander Hamilton and former Presidents James Madison and John Adams fled the United States for Canada following the failure of the Articles of Confederation.

How would history judge such an action and what would the world look like today?

Don’t let this election stifle your voice. If your candidate loses, don’t waste time blaming others. Instead, get out, pursue your goals and speak your mind – make your contribution to the legacy, our legacy.

Upon submitting your ballot Tuesday, you should have reached for your wallet or purse and removed a $1 bill.

First, give a nod to George Washington and thank him for turning down the throne in 1782. Next, examine the reverse of the currency, noting that the pyramid of the Union is uncapped – a constant reminder that our work as Americans is never finished. Finally, take a silent pledge to work genuinely and vigilantly to make your addition to that pyramid, regardless of the outcome of today’s election.

In the end, the manner by which we heal the wounds of this bitter campaign season is more certain to affect the next four years of U.S. politics than the man elected to office Tuesday. Have a little faith that there are many elections yet to come and even more opportunities to make a difference.

This opinion column originally appeared in the Daily Cardinal at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Please send comments to [email protected].