To paraphrase Mark Twain, the report of America's death was an exaggeration. After Tuesday's election, the sun rose, businesses opened, kids went to school and life generally went on. The post-election America was still America.
Here's an inconvenient truth -- the framers of America's democracy did not trust each other. They felt that the only way to protect against any small group of Americans consolidating complete political power was to build a certain amount of tension and inertia into the structure of government. As a result, no group can get everything it wants. Every person, every party in government must give up something in order for consensus to be reached and our government to function as designed.
As Congress prepares to reconvene on Tuesday, there are major challenges facing our country. Regardless of which side of the arguments we fall, we all have to accept that no one group of Americans can get 100% of what they want. Compromise cannot just be tolerable; it must be acceptable. The men and women who represent us must be sent a clear message that we the people understand the role of compromise as intended by the founding fathers. Unless we want to see continued dysfunction and gridlock at this critical point in the country's history, extremists on both sides need to take their foot off the gas and give those who represent us room to negotiate reasonable American solutions to real American problems.
Was I happy with the outcome of this year's elections? In some cases, very much so. In others, quite the opposite. But regardless of how I feel about who won and who lost, I recognize that the time has come to move from political sloganeering to responsible governing. For the most part, the campaign trail does not generate the best public policy. Sound public policy most often results from hard work by committed public servants who recognize that those who govern, govern all the people.
As advertised, the next several weeks will let us know where America is headed. If Congress and the president fail to resolve the looming fiscal crisis during the lame duck session, we may all be witnesses to the beginning of the end of America as we know it.
However, I believe in us. Moreover, I believe in the men and women who represent us. I believe that in spite of everything that was done and said during the campaign, those whom we charge with the monumental task of doing what is best for the entire country will ultimately realize that compromise is not a dirty word. Rather, it is necessary to the societal framework the founding fathers designed.
Karl Douglass, Columbus native and resident, is a frequent commenter on local, state and federal politics. Follow him on Twitter@KarlDouglass or facebook.com/karldouglass.