So my side didn’t win last night. That’s how elections go. All of us who vote are driven by some overriding priority that frames the election. For me, it’s a desire to limit the power and scope of the national government. I’m concerned about protecting the liberty of Americans from bureaucrats. Others voted on the basis of who they thought might create more jobs for our ailing economy. Others voted because they view the government as a legitimate source of public support. And some voted to maintain the historic nature of the Obama presidency; a referendum on history.
President Obama is not a bad man. And while he has a vision that I think is wrong for the long-term health of the United States, he is still my president. I voted against his vision, not against him. That’s the way elections should be fought, on the battlefield of ideas, not personal attacks. Sometimes things go too far. I thought Governor Romney’s demeanor during the debates was at times disrespectful to the president. I thought the President’s professed campaign strategy to “destroy Romney’s character” was beneath the office. I guess its easy to get caught up in the desire to win.
This morning I feel like a kid on Christmas who didn’t get what he wanted. I’m a little sad, but hey, its still Christmas morning! Our political process, particularly the presidential selection process, always amazes me. There are three reasons.
First, we have an uninterrupted history of transferring political power in a peaceful manner. Sure, my side didn’t win, but there will be no tanks in the streets or riots in the cities. As hard as it is for one candidate to lose after years of preparation, countless treasure spent, and the personal sacrifices of being on the campaign trail, the loser always goes – gracefully and usually in a classy manner. Even the guys who couldn’t muster the inner-strength to go gracefully (like John Adams or Harry Truman) still went. It was a hard phone-call and speech for Romney to make last night, but he made them with a smile on his face, though I am sure his heart was heavy.
Second, I’m always amazed that our Founders had the foresight to design a system of government that minimizes the impact of any particular person. For all our focus on the presidency, the president really can’t do all that much. The other branches have their constitutional checks to limit the president’s power. Our legislature has developed the additional check of party division between the chambers. Regardless of who won last night, the divide between the House and Senate stands as a barrier to overreaching political ambition on the part of the president. That’s a victory for all Americans, and Liberty, regardless of which party you support.
And finally, I’m overwhelmed by the amazing optimism of the American people and my friends. We always believe that our best days are ahead of us, regardless of who is in charge. My Democratic friends hope the next four years will be ones of enlightenment, change, and progress. My Republican friends already look forward to 2016, and are planning how they can use the next four years to educate their fellow citizens on the importance of limited government, liberty, and self-reliance. I know very few of us on the minority side who are bitter. I tend to avoid those kind of people. Most of us will dust ourselves off, congratulate our friends on their victory, and go back to work.
The stability, civility, and optimism of our political process is a gift from a generation who understood well the dangers of unchecked government power. That system still works for us today. America is an exceptional nation because our political process is still the exemplar in a world where oppression, bullets, and fear are the usual tools of political parties bent on keeping power. In America, optimism, ballots, and trust are the basis for our free and fair elections.
So I lost last night. I wake up this morning a winner.