We expected this to be somewhat of a dog fight. But we didn’t expect the dogs to still be howling three days after the election. Yet here we are.
As of this writing on Friday evening, the winner hadn’t been decided yet. Votes were still being counted. But whether we have a decision when you’re reading this and whether it’s Trump or Biden, all of our collective nerves are a little jangly. We’re a little wrung out, just by virtue of how close it was and how painstakingly slow the process was — and all of that after a drawn-out campaign period full of vitriol and accusations in the midst of a pandemic.
So, how to soothe? How to heal now that it’s over, or almost over or whatever the case may be today?
This was one of the most contentious and downright ugly political campaigns, at least in recent memory. Beyond what was happening on the national stage, it revealed things about family members and longtime friends that maybe we didn’t know and don’t necessarily like.
It forced us to take honest inventory and maybe face things about ourselves that we didn’t know or didn’t want to know were lurking in our psyches. And it ruined its fair share of holidays, family dinners and budding relationships.
Many people consider the coronavirus pandemic, with its isolation and “stop the world” sensibility, to be something of a starting-over point, a purge of sorts. A time to take stock and re-evaluate the things we want, need and will or won’t tolerate.
The same can be said of the election. There was turmoil, and then the country waited in a fog of uncertainty and hope from both sides and in many cases prayerful anticipation. Turmoil could erupt again over the final verdict but, for right now, for the most part, we’re floating in a cloud of “what if.”
It’s a good time to reboot. Here are a couple of things to think about:
• Assess those relationships that might have been put to the test. Your social media feed has seen its share of posts saying things like “I’ve had to unfriend so many people because they support Trump” or “Well, I guess I hate Uncle Bob now because he’s a Biden-loving liberal socialist hippie.”
It might seem petty to detach from a friend, coworker or family member over political beliefs. But if you’re there, this is a good time to honestly assess the value of those relationships. If you give it a good think and feel it best to reconnect, do it. Reach out honestly and offer to bury any hatchets.
• Did “your” candidate lose? Get politically involved to help representatives of your values and beliefs win next time. Feel like issues you care about didn’t get a fair shake? Find an organization to support with your time, talent and/or treasure that helps to solve the problems that affect you directly or move you on behalf of others.
Politics is a big, big machine. So is government. Aside from asserting our superpower by casting a vote, there’s not much regular folks can do to influence them once the winners take their thrones. Not on their level. But on a personal level, we can shine by connecting honestly with the world around us.
As the sun sets on this swamp of political unpleasantry, a little light is just what we need to shake off the mud and move forward, no matter who comes out the winner.
• Margaret Battistelli Gardner