We have survived yet another presidential election following a campaign lean on issues and long on insults. While I am excited about the results, I am concerned that the polarizing race and pent-up frustration with the federal government have left our nation angry and divided. Emotionally charged posts on social media demonstrate that the contention is not subsiding. Many losers are lashing out in anger and winners are gloating. Even those welcoming the outcome are uncertain about what the future holds.
So, where do we go from here? A combination of emotions is dominating the political atmosphere from shock to relief, from hope to despair. But this is a time to look past personal feelings to what is best for our nation. That is often difficult. May I offer the following suggestions:
1. Heal the wounds caused by this contentious campaign. Just because some disagree with your political preferences does not make them immoral, ignorant or unpatriotic. As Thomas Jefferson reminded us: “Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.” Mend relationships with family and friends that may have been damaged by political arguments. Politics is fleeting, but relationships are forever.
2. Recognize that as critical as the presidency is, it is not a monarchy or dictatorship. Our Founders envisioned both good presidents and bad, providing a system of checks and balances — a division of power among three branches of government. No supreme leader in this nation will determine our Divine Destiny. The U.S. Constitution is intact and will continue to protect our rights and freedoms.
3. Keep an open mind. Even some who voted for Donald Trump did so grudgingly — faced with a choice they didn’t relish. Now, let’s give him a chance to be a leader, to reveal his best self. Let us not only be forgiving but also encouraging.
4. Pray for our leaders. It has become unfashionable to pray — sometimes even unlawful. Maybe that’s where we went wrong. Whether we supported them or not, the leaders elected by the people will make decisions that impact our future. Let us call on God to grant wisdom to our president, Congress and other government leaders. I think about the challenges facing our national leaders today. They need our prayers. They need God’s help. As the Apostle Paul directed us: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
5. Stay involved. Don’t let this unprecedented contentious campaign make you cynical about our country. Corrective action begins with each of us. Stay informed about our community and world. Stay in touch with your elected officials. Most of them really do care about your family, your business and your opinions. And stay loyal to our country — defend it against those who would denigrate and belittle it. Through whatever challenges we may face, we must never lose sight of the fact that we still enjoy greater freedoms, more opportunities and a brighter future than any other nation in the history of the world. In the encouraging words of Hillary Clinton following the election, “If we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strength in our convictions, and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us.”
Sen. Brent Hill, Rexburg, is president pro tempore of the Idaho Senate.