Election day has arrived, and I have not the slightest notion who will win what. I just want to give all of us a group hug. We desperately need it.
Mom told us that if we play in the mud we’re going to get dirty. Well, we did, and we are. But today really, really needs to be bath day. All the folks who argued at each other, and screamed and shouted at each other, and even sometimes punched and pushed at each other — all those folks are our brothers and sisters. We get to be Americans because we subscribe to the American ideal — that all human beings are born equal, and that every human being is endowed by his or her Creator with certain inalienable rights. That, putting everything else aside, is what makes an American. Not a party or a policy or a person. We are Americans because we espouse this ideal.
We have not reached that ideal, but after all, that is what an ideal is, something to which we aspire, something that is our lifelong task. We have not, as a nation, recognized the rights of every human being. We have suffered the slavery of Africans, the genocide of native Americans, the bigotry against Jews and minorities of various stripes. We have allowed fundamental inequality to exist. We have oppressed the rights of private citizens out of ignorance or selfishness.
But here is the thing: we are all, in the end, in our hearts, striving for that ideal. We renounced slavery. We ended the genocide. We have fought against oppression by others. We have corrected unfairness that has grown up within us from time to time. And, at base, we — all of us, Democrat and Republican, left and right, rich and poor, all of us — we, in our hearts, really and sincerely care about the problems from which we all suffer.
It got a little nasty there for a while, and we talked about hating and we threw insults. Now it’s done. We’re going to the voting booth today, and tomorrow we will have picked some new leaders. They will not all be the people we wanted, but they will be our leaders. And that will leave us with one more huge job. We need to take that bath. We need to lean across the divide we created, and take the hand of our fellow American and say, “Okay. Sorry about the ‘stupid’ thing. We, you and I, we have some problems, and we need to fix them. Our leaders will give us a direction. We may not like the direction, but we need to work together to get where we all know we need to go. Let’s go do this thing together.”
Group hug. Let’s get ‘er done.