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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

With the 2012 presidential election now a little more than a week behind us, I find myself particularly proud of the voting record in the Weld household.

It was a split vote. In short, my wife and I did not make the same choice for president. I suppose it's not the split decision that I'm particularly proud of, but more the fact that we were able to disagree on such amicable and respectful terms.

In doing so, I think we taught our children an extremely valuable lesson -- that not only is it OK to disagree on political matters, but that it's possible to do so without estranging or belittling anyone who holds a differing view.

That's an idea that is all too often lost in the modern national discourse of American politics. More often than not, we are completely entrenched with our own partisanship, viewing any argument or victory by the "other" side as treacherous.

This state of affairs has been evident across the national blogosphere in the days since the election, with many decrying the results as the end of America as we know it. One Facebook poster called the election results "tragic." Another voiced hope that perhaps the Mayans were right, and that the world will come to an end by the end of the year. Most recently, thousands of people have been signing petitions calling for their states to secede from the union.

And make no mistake -- had the other guy won, the same thing would have happened. Social media would still have been overtaken by the spirit of incredulity, with countless posts foretelling the impending doom for our nation.

It's probably a good idea not to take anything posted on social media too seriously immediately after an election. It's kind of like going on a sports team's Internet message board in the hours after a big loss -- nobody makes any sense. It's just a collective wailing and gnashing of teeth.

So I will give the Facebook posters in my news feed a break. Everyone deserves a chance to vent, I suppose.

But calling for secession? Really? C'mon.

I think a lot of folks get way too emotionally vested in the outcome of elections. I wrote once before that Americans have come to follow politics the way they do sports teams. We pick a side, and then cheer when our team wins and cry when they lose. And our allegiances have much less to do with observable facts and truths than we would like to believe.

Here's the thing: The election was important. There's no doubt about that. But when it comes down to it, the person sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office has much less to do with our day-to-day lives than we think. For instance, the things that concern me on a day-to-day basis are things like making plans for Thanksgiving, buying groceries for the week, figuring out what we're going to have for dinner, getting my kids to quiz bowl practice, planning news content for each day's newspaper, watching junior high and elementary school basketball games, and figuring out when we're going to put up Christmas decorations. The president of the United States has no say over any of that.

In other words, if your guy won the election, or if your guy lost, it's probably not as important as you think.

And even if we did elect a dud, it's not like it would be the first time it has ever happened. We've had 57 presidential elections in our nation's history, and it's a near statistical certainty that America got it wrong more than a few times. Yet we have always survived.

And I believe America always will survive. We are a nation that survived a Civil War and two World Wars. We survived eras when women were treated as second-class citizens and blacks were treated as property. We persevered through an Industrial Revolution and a Great Depression.

In short, there are far more tragic things that could befall our country than the guy we like losing an election.

We spend a lot of time in this country clamoring for our elected leaders to seek compromise and take action in the best interests of our nation. But if we, as citizens, can't figure out a way to accept election results without throwing temper tantrums and going completely insane whenever our guy loses, I don't know how we can expect anyone in Washington to embrace the spirit of bipartisanship. If we can't figure out a way to discuss the challenges facing our country in a respectful and amicable way, I don't know how we can ever expect to solve anything.

aweld@couriernews.net

Andy Weld
Andy Weld is editor of the Blytheville Courier News.
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