Many of us watched the recent Presidential elections with great concern.  It did not matter if we were a Republican or a Democrat, the worries about the election were real and widespread and divisive.  It was a wrenching process for so many Americans.  The turnout was the highest in our nation’s history and Vice President Biden received the most votes ever.  Curiously, President Trump received the second highest vote count in history.  We should be celebrating this election achievement as indicator of the strength of our democracy. Yet, the huge amount of votes for both candidates and the demonstrations during the counting of votes should serve as a warning for all of us going forward

There are many Americans, on both sides, who viewed the election in manifestly different ways.  Those who supported the president through the last four years are suffering the loss of someone whom they admired and respected. Some hold that there were problems in the electoral process — and this is a belief that is difficult to comprehend and to change.  But the angst felt by Trump supporters cannot and should not be ignored or dismissed.

Members of the Democratic Party, who experienced a similar loss and sense of defeat four years ago when Sen. Hillary Clinton failed to win the office of the president. Democrats are no strangers to the sadness in failing to achieve a much cherished goal and should understand this sense of loss on a personal level, and be sensitive to the views of others.  Nonetheless, Democrats are cheered by the victory won by Vice President Biden and look forward to him and his leadership as a pathway to unity.

The two presidential elections reflect the deep divide in our nation, one that many did not at first recognize and is now clearly supported by the votes and the patterns of success in each state by both of the candidates.  We should be concerned about these deeply rooted differences going forward and consider how we can bridge these differences in a humane, compassionate and thoughtful manner that heals the divisions, deeply rooted anger and discord held by so many.

The words of Abraham Lincoln, in his second inaugural address are extremely relevant here.  He was addressing a deeply divided nation, after a lengthy and brutal civil war, where emotions and differences were exceptional. He said:

“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”

Although it took much longer than expected, and indeed some wounds still exist today, we as a nation managed to move forward from that situation to pursue unity and peace for all. We are facing economic and health challenges that will require the support of all to resolve – not based on party affiliation, but on our collective identity as Americans.

Now is the perfect time to recall Lincoln’s words and move to “bind up the nation’s wounds” to reach out to all across the political spectrum and march forward together in carving a just, peaceful and bright future for all Americans.

— Special to the Press Herald

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