EDITORIAL: Come together right now

York Dispatch
  • We have survived a bruising election cycle.
  • This new era won't be without its significant challenges.
  • It's up to the American people, and our political leaders, to compromise in order to heal.

In the wake of a tumultuous election season, one that has torn open our collective psychic civic wounds and left us exhausted and raw, we can say one thing for sure: We have survived, if barely.

A person photographs the building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, illuminated in patriotic lights during an Election Night gathering at Rockefeller Center, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

We are Americans. It’s what we do.

While it was messy at times, that’s the agitation that is the democratic process. We all have a voice. And if turnout is any indication, we raised those voices, if across a deep divide.

It will continue to be challenging as we begin a new and uncertain era.

Now, more than ever, our disparate voices represent strong differences that must somehow be reconciled through compromise and clear thinking, not political rhetoric and obstructionism.

They must be guided by the will of the people.

In a democracy such as ours, the elected work for us. And if enough of us raise our voices, as has happened, change truly can come about. When we fail to participate, we allow our elected officials to call the shots without consequences.

Due, in part, to lack of voter participation in the political process over the past several decades and, in part, to gerrymandering and other special interest concerns, our representatives haven’t been working for us. Mostly, they have been working for the preservation of their own political careers.

Making a choice: Voters talk of decision and of tensions

Call this election whatever you like, there is no denying it is a mandate for significant change.

And at the end of the day, a president is not leading in a vacuum. Our newly elected leaders must take steps to help us reconcile our vast divisions. And we must look past our political disagreements and acknowledge that we are more alike in our humanity than we are different in our politics.

We need a president and Congress who will work in partnership to get things done.

They must realize the change that voters demand.

The president must be a leader for all Americans. And our next Congress would do well to remember that the playbook of obstruction results in approval ratings that barely break double digits. They don’t win elections, either. Gerrymandering is largely responsible for that.

An Associated Press series called “Divided America” laid out the stark challenges we have as Americans because we are deeply divided on issues of social and fiscal policy.

But here it is again, that oft-ignored solution: compromise. That’s our way to common ground.

Because as the AP reported in its “Divided” series, there is common ground. At the Annin Flagmakers factory in South Boston, Virginia, seamstress Emily Bouldin says Americans "may be divided on some things, but when it comes down to the most important things we come together."

The AP series interviewed two women with vastly different opinions on gun control and found that while they have differing political views, they each believe we must come together as a nation.

They should be our model for compromise.

Exit poll: White men favor Trump in Pa., nonwhites go for Clinton

Laura Boebert is against most gun measures while Dorothy Johnson-Speight, who formed the anti-gun group Mothers in Charge after her son’s death, is seeking the passage of gun control measures that would preserve the rights of responsible gun owners but work to quell violence perpetrated by those who shouldn’t have guns.

Boebert said she is not skeptical about the ability of the American people to rise above division, on guns — and other issues.

"Right now, we're using our rights to tear each other apart," she told the AP, passionately. "Freedom of speech, it's just being used to say whatever mean, harmful, violent thing you can. ... That's not what it's for. You also have the freedom to lift them up and to hold them up and edify them.”

“Let's come together, let's unify as Americans, all of us."

This should be the first — and most important — mandate for our newly elected leaders.