Forum: Congress will have to reach across aisle; how about us?

With Congress split between the parties, legislation requires cooperation. We can do the same.

By Jeremy Steiner / Herald Forum

After all the hype and hysteria about the coming massive midterm red wave, the result was a ripple.

Over a week of counting the returns, pundits and pollsters were left pondering, Democrats can claim control of the Senate, Republicans barely take the House and Biden was given a surprise gift as he celebrated his 80th birthday Nov. 20.

At the federal level, the two parties are historically at the closest margin ever and must find bipartisan compromise to get anything done.

So who are the real winners after such an intense and important election season?

There’s no question that voters of all political parties are victorious.

After such a chaotic campaign in 2020, followed by the horrible attack on the U.S. Capitol, on Jan. 6, 2021, the American people longed for a return to normal. Despite all the negative ads and political propaganda this election, voters saw through the lies and sought sanity rather than radical, irrational allegations of fraud and corruption.

In the end, democracy won and our nation returned to normal. There was no news of violence, no rioting in the streets, no calls for protests. Instead, when candidates lost, for the most part they gracefully conceded and their supporters silently accepted. And that’s the beauty and blessing of our nation; the traditional transfer of power in a peaceful and passive manner after every election.

There seems to be a longing for sensible political discourse and a need for normal public debate that will help move our nation forward. Our elected official will now be forced to work across the political aisle to pass meaningful legislation, and that’s a win for everyone.

What did we learn from the election?

Exit polls show Americans are anxious and angry, and also split on most major issues. With a divided government, now is the perfect time to come together —moving beyond the known red and blue colors that often cause divisions — and create a purple wave of public discourse. We need a new national movement that welcomes voters of both parties to come out of their bubbles and start talking again, no matter what the current controversy is confronting the country.

Recently on Stephen Colbert’s late night show, Michelle Obama said: “We need to reconnect, you know. We don’t do well in isolation. We are all feeling anxious. We are all feeling unseen, unheard. We’re afraid. We don’t know what is causing that fear. We don’t know how to control it, how to quiet that fearful mind. And I’m no different. I had to work my way out of my hole and find my purpose again.”

America has a long legacy of great political debate that helped construct a more perfect union for the common good. With the pandemic in the past and daily public life functioning as normal, we need a promotion of purple where people in both red and blue areas start reconnecting and communicating.

No one is calling for a patriotic paradise or a Utopian universe of unicorns and rainbows where everyone gets along perfectly. But what’s the worry if we begin talking to each other no matter the political difference. Simply coming together again is a solid start to healing the relationships that tore apart so many friends and families during the pandemic and past political season.

During the pandemic, a majority of Americans did their patriotic duty and got vaccinated.

This first step helped the nation return to normalcy. The second stage of that return means bursting the bubbles we’ve all lived in for too long and begin reconnecting with one another about serious issues concerning our country … like the price of Taylor Swift concert tickets!

On his HBO show “Real Time,” Bill Maher recently retold a story of inviting several friends over to attend a party at his house. He said some of his friends refused to come once they heard a couple individuals who supported Trump would be there. He was rightfully outraged that our society has arrived at this awful outcome, where we won’t even associate with the other side.

For too long we’ve been trapped in tribalism and isolated on individual islands. During the pandemic over the past few years many Americans lived alone and locked inside.

Several studies show how lonely we feel and the longing to reconnect with others.

Now that we have a divided government that is forced to work together in a bipartisan fashion, we all need to do our patriotic part and start talking again about the issues we face. Here’s to hoping that conversation began yesterday at the Thanksgiving table.

Jeremy Steiner is executive producer for the nationally syndicated Michael Medved radio show and lives in Edmonds.

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