"And the armies separated...and after the victory, the King said 'If we are victorious in one more such battle, we shall be utterly ruined.'" --- Plutarch, Life of Pyrrhus
This morning, half the country feels they have helped deliver a great victory to America. A victory that will help to ensure freedom and liberty, prosperity and the continuation of a country they believe in.
They feel they have delivered a victory over a foe who is morally corrupt, and over their supporters who are either equally corrupt or who have been fooled through propaganda.
The other half feel betrayed by their fellow citizens, who delivered a victory that will merely ensure more corruption, social inequality, economic ruin and the decline of American power and reputation around the world.
No matter how you voted last night, or if you chose to abstain from voting, I have news for you: both sides are right, and both sides are wrong.
If your side won, you might feel good today. You may feel there is hope left for America. If your side lost, today probably feels crappy and you may believe all hope is lost.
Today is Wednesday, November 9th, 2016 and the sun still rose in the East and it will set in the West. Today, the national nightmare of the 2016 election is over and we have a choice on what to do and where to go from here.
For months, we have been told that this is the most important election in our history. That we were voting to either save America or see it destroyed. That Western Civilization itself may hang on the balance of our vote. That if we didn’t stand for one candidate or against the other, we were personally responsible for the pending doom the dreaded opponent would most certainly bring.
I do not believe that America, that the American spirit, that Western Civilization itself is so fragile, so insecure that any one person actually possesses the capacity to bring about our destruction. I used to. I am a catastrophist. And though we are much bigger and much stronger than any one candidate or party --- we cannot be complacent and we need to figure out our path forward.
“America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and then erased again.” [Field of Dreams]
No matter how you feel about our next President---and please note, I wrote this before results came out and I have not even mentioned who won---do not celebrate too greatly or be too despondent based on what transpired last night.
Our Nation is more than one election, one President. America is great because America is good.
Too often we confuse the health or success of our Nation with the health or success of our government. We conflate loyalty to America to mean loyalty to the government or to the party.
Politicians come and go --- but the citizens are here to stay. In the Representative Democracy of a Constitutional Republic, they come and go quickly --- though in many cases not quickly enough. The founders created checks and balances for a reason. A President is not a dictator and once elected they do not take power and control of the government, they take their seat at the table as the leader of the Executive Branch. The current President and our next one are not America.
Our nation is far more than our government. And unlike other nations, we are more than our land or national boundaries. We are more than our money and wealth. We are not a nation founded on racial identity or genetic history, and we are not based in the heritage of a single religion.
America is a nation founded on and based on an idea --- a revolutionary idea. An idea that permeated the world and is still aspirational for billions of people. That is our identity. That is what binds us.
The idea of who human beings are, by our very nature, and what we are capable of.
The idea of rights that are innate to each of us --- that we are equal before the laws of God and of man.
The idea that our rights are superior to the will or opinions of others --- that the rights of the individual supersede the President or the authority of any government or any group of people who presume to be our betters.
The idea that governments are not the nation, they can be built up, destroyed and replaced at will if they fail to respect and maintain our rights.
In many ways, this election was irrelevant. The next president has no more power to control America and determine our future than any of us have to flap our arms and fly, and that is because no man or woman can control or eliminate ideas. Each of us own those, they are inside our mind and our soul and nobody can own or control them except us.
We are not in their control.
America will endure and sustain, no matter who is taking the oath of office on January 20th, because each of us own our free agency. That is the binding agent of our Nation.
There will be dark days ahead, under any circumstances, no matter which citizen we have elected to serve as our President. There are turbulent times coming in our economy, in the game of “Risk” being played abroad, in our streets, trouble is coming. Each of us will be called to defend our Nation, neighbors, friends, and liberty --- in our own way and with our own expertise.
Today, remember this: there will be days in your future when you will think your neighbor to be right and there will be days when you think your neighbor to be wrong. But they are still your neighbor. They are still your fellow Americans: Still struggling, the same as you, to find the right path for themselves and their family. They are as anxious as you are to enjoy freedom and the success it allows, and anxious to see others enjoy it too.
Just as you, they are pained when they see others suffer and want to help relieve that suffering.
Like you, they want to be respected and heard by their friends, family and neighbors.
Like you, they want both your children and their own to be free to think and experience the rights and joys they have themselves enjoyed.
Like you, they feel love and empathy for their fellow men.
The next president will be my president, as those during my lifetime have been, and I will do my sacred duty to grant them the honor and respect that they merit, as all citizens must. And each of us must also demand that they honor their sacred duty to us. And if they fail to do so, as many of their predecessors before them have done, they will simply be replaced in 4 years rather than 8. America is a nation that was founded around the idea of a covenant. The covenant our founders focused on was with God. But there is another covenant: We as citizens will support the office of the President and will hold the President responsible for their actions AND the President is obligated to represent ALL of the citizens, not just the ones who voted for him/her.
We will erase the blackboard, replace the politicians holding office and if necessary, use tools baked into our system like a convention of states.
Today, embrace your brothers and sisters. Recall that each of us must exercise our free agency as we see fit. Realize that the next President, Senate and Congress does not control the destiny of our country. We do.
This past election was not an indictment on our politicians but rather a reflection of ourselves. WE must do better. We can do better.