This is the day we've been waiting for; the day we elect a President and settle some other political races as well as a handful of ballot measures has finally come. Rather than a collective sigh of relief, we need to brace ourselves for the flood of emotions sure to follow as we process what it means to win and lose this time around.
Our wounds have been exposed and our underbelly revealed to be far softer and uglier than we may have realized. This we need to see as a positive, lest we get lazy and ignore more of our history and fail to see how easily a moral compass can get lost.
As an educator, I see the role of our educational institutions far more crucial this time. Because so many people are getting their news either from social media or networks that are narrow in scope we seem to have limited opportunity for real discussion and dialogue with opposing viewpoints. What passes for debate/discussions could never be acceptable in most classrooms I know. But we may have to remake and re-condition young people to the idea of listening before talking and check for understanding even more as our students represent what they know in an orderly fashion. We can only hope the major news agencies and networks will follow.
Here's another thing that might be useful. We keep hearing that the President of the USA is the leader of the "Free World" and perhaps the most powerful person in that world. Not really. Anyone who believes that is true hasn't read the Constitution in a while and doesn't know or understand the principle of Federalism. We have checks and balances on power. Just look at the power of the obstructionist congress we have now. Look at a piece of legislation like the 1973 War Powers Act, or the power of a Supreme Court decision. All power in our government is limited. The founders provided the nation with these safeguards and for better or worse, they work.
One more thing that should prove interesting. In years past, no matter how bitter or disruptive the campaign, the office of the President has always demanded respect. Candidates as far apart politically as Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson would go at it for months and then come the day after the election would easily refer to the winner as Mr. President elect. Don't think we'll see that, at least from one candidate, this time.
Make no mistake, this election holds the key to much more than the immediate future. Social change and demographics combined, we're moving away from one social and political reality to another. Some call it the "browning of America," while others refer to the impact of technology on all those Norman Rockwell images that comprise the American that some folks continually mourn for and can't seem to let go. Either way, I don't think the Ford Motor Company will be bringing any jobs back home anytime soon.