By Jim Lee
Although last week’s column followed the general election by only five days and would have been a timely topic, I decided against commenting about it then. At first, I thought I should write about it, but after a bit of reflection, I changed my mind. The event culminated a period of particularly vicious electioneering. So I thought we could all use the distance of an additional week to get the healing process started.
This healing process, although not called exactly that, came up in the victory and concession speeches of the presidential candidates. Both of them asked for unity, for an end to the bitterly fought clash of ideologies.
This unity is much easier for the followers of the victorious candidate because it creates a rallying point for the winning side and the illusion of a mandate. But this unity is important for the defeated side because the good of the country supercedes the validity of any argument. It’s time to build bridges, not to dig trenches.
Unfortunately, the gulf between the opposing views is difficult to span. We still tend to draw a line in the sand.
People divide themselves into two groups: winners and losers. Well, friends, we’re not talking about a baseball game here. It’s not a contest, it’s a process — and a great process it is, too.
So if we resort to being reasonable, we can celebrate yet another success of our political system. We have no losers because everybody wins.
OK, we all know this, but we still feel the effects of the acceptance or rejection of a cause. The “winners” revel in the acceptance of what they stand for, and the “losers” wallow in rejection.
Of course rejection is the more powerful of the two because everyone yearns for validation. We know we should have won because we are right. Why can’t the other side see how wrong they are?
How can the “undecideds” not see the truth and honor of our position? How can people be so downright insensitive and dumb?
The bad feelings of electoral rejection can also feel personal. Our minds tell us nothing personal went on, but our hearts ache over the lost cause. The more we care, the more we ache.
Some of us feel disenfranchised. Some of us feel like we have spent our lives charging windmills with an arthritic lance. But when the wounds begin to heal and we don our armor for the next adventure, we should begin to see the triumph.
The victory is in the survival of our ideals. No ballot box can kill the principles of the sincere. No matter which candidate held our standard or which political party bound us together, the genuine triumph is in the effort itself.
Irrespective of whatever side on which we placed ourselves, we won. The real losers were those who retreated behind the shield of indifference. The losers were those who allowed their mental laziness to escalate to the euphoria of ignorance. Losers are those who give nothing but demand everything.
It is not simply a huge wave of insurmountable opposition making ideals hopeless. That’s why we have a republic instead of a democracy. As my stepson and friend Allan Mason says: “Democracy is three wolves and a lamb deciding what’s for dinner.” We have democratic principles, such as equal rights, but not a pure democracy.
In this republic (which must rely on deliberative effort) big changes require patience and steady, unwavering effort. Sooner or later, the right ideas rise from the mud and take root. Governing by fallacy cannot last because the façade of lies inevitably crumbles. Our country is founded on that ideal.
So far, it still works.
Jim Lee is news director for KENW-FM radio. He also is an English instructor. He can be contacted at 359-2204. His e-mail: