As the absurd political theater continues to play itself out after the Nov. 3 election, it’s difficult not to become discouraged about what the next four years might bring. With political opponents so focused on consolidating their own power and crushing those who disagree, the chances of progress in almost any area seem dim.
The only thing providing a glimmer of hope is that America has been here before and survived.
As of this writing, no credible evidence has been found to discredit the results of the presidential election. Repeating unfounded claims of cheating over and over does not make them true. Want to claim fraud? Certainly, that’s your right. But provide the evidence to make the claims valid or just be quiet.
The continual unsubstantiated battering of the election process, one that rational people of all political parties should stand against, serves little purpose other than to create doubt in the process in the public’s mind.
And once that happens, the shadow marking the end of democracy moves closer.
America experienced similar rancor early in its history. In “Empire of Liberty, A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815,” Gordon S. Wood writes:
“The spread of equality and changing conceptions of political leadership generated intense partisan passions. The Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans may not have been modern parties, but they increasingly acted like parties, and they produced powerful loyalties among large numbers of the population, especially among the Republicans. In 1809, the Republican minister William Bentley in Salem, Massachusetts, declared that ‘the parties hate each other as much as the French and English hate each (other) in time of war.’ Families broke up over politics, and employers dismissed their employees because of party differences. …”
Sound familiar? And that was without the constant stream of falsehoods spewed by social media.
More and more news media outlets are now including in their reports whether statements made by partisan sources are accurate or not. That practice is long overdue. If reporters remain committed to pointing out incorrect statements by politicians from both parties, perhaps fewer people will believe baseless claims.
Based on their past performance during the past 25 years or so, we cannot count on congressional leaders to lead the way toward common goals and cooperation for all Americans. They continue to be almost exclusively focused on preventing any progress that might benefit an opponent — or the public which they pledge to serve.
That leaves the chore of creating unity and common purpose up to the rest of us. Don’t accept any statements as fact without checking it with multiple sources. Listen to one another with open minds instead of instantly discarding anything coming from “the other side.” Use common sense and understand that compromise allows everyone to move ahead.
It’s a tall order. But we’ve done it before following contentious elections, and we can do it again.