It’s time for some harmony

Focusing on what unites us should be the goal

A raucous and acrimonious election season is now behind us. Some of our readers are no doubt pleased with the outcomes. Others, are disappointed. For many, the election results are a mix of “good” and “not-so-good” news.

There can’t, however, be many among us who will miss the seemingly endless, often-quite-vicious political warfare that has dominated the news for many weeks. Candidates overstating their own strengths and exaggerating the negative qualities of their opponents has been taking place for months. It’s been exhausting. For those who want political discourse to be more civil, this campaign year has been very discouraging.

We need to find ways for community harmony to rebound.

When important policy issues are at stake, thoughtful and well-motivated people will reach different conclusions about what actions various government bodies should take. The whole point of having elections is to create an orderly process for choosing officeholders who can transform voter preferences into government actions.

The system doesn’t work well, however, if people aren’t willing to accept the results of elections as legitimate. When campaign claims cause citizens to view candidates with whom they disagree as not just wrong but as evil or motivated by unsavory goals, it becomes very hard to rally around the winner once the votes have been counted.

The overheated rhetoric that has characterized some of the election contests this year makes accepting election results harder than it should be.

The people who have been elected need to be able to craft policies that have reasonably broad support. Quite often that means that compromises will be needed if any progress is to take place.

As voters we need to encourage the officeholders we backed to seek common ground with other officials who hold different views. That’s the only way a path forward can be found. The harsh things that have been said during the campaign won’t make achieving consensus easy. Making a good faith effort to work together now that the campaign is over is, however, the right thing for elected officials to do.

If the health of our democratic system is to improve, politicians and citizens need to make political discussions less strident. The people we just elected can help advance that goal by showing that they are able to find ways to work together. If they do so, maybe our next campaign will be more uplifting.

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