There were two concurrent emotions for liberals on election night, both in equal measure. One was joy, the other; hard, cold vindication. As evolved as any of us may be, the sense of fist-pumping “YEAH!!” felt after it was announced that “Ohio goes to Obama…he’s just won re-election,” was undeniable on that incredibly intense night. The afterglow is still glowing.
In one short week, reams have been written about the confounding and inexplicable clash of perception that roiled through the opposing camps on either side of the election. With Nate Silver’s sharp predictions going one way and every GOP operative dismissing those numbers with the sweep of a condescending hand, it was an astonishing denouement of an exhausting campaign and those on the left felt deserving of the “crow” they were dishing up; it didn’t matter if it wasn’t “being et.”
As Slate’s Katherine Goldstein suggests, the time may have come to put aside the boast and bluster and get on with it. Now that we’ve, hopefully, gotten the salt-pouring out of our system, what better task than what we set out to do in the first place; make the country work better. That only happens if we’re not slinging mud and our hands are free to do something useful. From Liberal Schadenfreude Is Out of Control:
But I began to notice, both in media coverage and in social media networks, that Obama supporters were not just thrilled that our guy won—folks were insanely, morbidly happy that all Republicans were miserable. And they weren’t just picking on easy and legitimate punching bags like Karl Rove and Donald Trump. [… ]
Twitter and Facebook have become cesspools of schadenfreude. I’d like to think that most people wouldn’t dare say to a friend, colleague, or relative the mean-spirited gloating hatefulness that has become common in the last few days.
She’s got a point. It’s been brutal out there.
While I’ve enjoyed reveling and writing about the events that unfolded, it is starting to feel like that ugly hangover after an overdose of sweet but queasy imbibing. Great going down but undeniably toxic and, clearly, it’s time for some real nutrition.
But relax, sling-shooters; the carping will continue because that’s the game of politics. The more volatile the players, the more edge to the snipe, sling, tweet and tear, particularly as new stories unroll with new reasons to rage. Some warriors never leave the field. Some are weary of the fight.
As was pointed out during the campaign, “it’s the math.” And math can be extrapolated beyond numbers and economy to the universal equations that compel everything in life. That’s where the rest of us need to focus. Because in the post-election world in which we currently live, the only equation worth proofing, the one that will ultimately lead where we want to go, is this one:
Parties Working Together + Smart Policies + Fiscal Wisdom + Compassion = Progress.
That’s a tough one to put together under the best of circumstances and, truth is, we’ll never completely get there. It’s not in our political nature to be that collaborative and conciliatory. Not ever, but certainly not when the opinion leaders on one side continue to parse and pervert what really happened while the other is still doing the Happy Dance. As a neighbor of mine said, “Maybe it’s time to shut up and starting building some bridges.”
Whatever can be pulled out and put together by willing participants on both sides is worth pursuing. Let’s go there. We can keep a sharp eye out, still cut with our commentary, still make clear there’s no wool to be pulled, but as the great Republican, Abraham Lincoln, once noted, “The best way to destroy your enemy is to make him your friend.” It’s in all our best interest to shut up, as my neighbor suggested, and make some new friends…especially now that we’ve gotten the gloat out of our system.