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Challenging the American Public

Today is November 18, and the election is 16 days in our past. For 15 days, we have known that George W. Bush will continue to be our president for the next four years. Whether or not you voted for him and whether or not you agree with his policies, it is time to accept the unalterable fact that he was elected, by both the popular and Electoral College votes. Our country needs to move on from the partisanship that is tearing us apart.

Today we find our nation, our people, more deeply divided than at any time in recent history. We have seen children turned against parents, neighbors against neighbors, lovers at odds with each other. We have allowed individual belief in our own correctness to overpower the beliefs we hold as a nation: the right of the people to a democratic government, the right to hold and express our beliefs and ideas, that “all men are created equal.” When did party affiliation become one’s most defining feature as an American citizen? How soon until we’re all wearing red or blue shirts so that we don’t have to risk talking to someone whose belief systems differ from ours? We need to move past partisanship and stop judging others whose political views are different from ours. Instead, we need to be grateful that we live in a country where we are free to voice diverse views without fear of repercussion. The incident that happened on campus recently, with a woman getting slapped because someone thought that she voted for Bush, is a disturbing example of what is happening in our country.

Not too long ago people would cross party lines to vote – both individual citizens when voting for candidates, and elected officials when voting on bills and laws. Now we’ve reached a state where people vote straight down party lines, not thinking about individual points or ideas. We need to stop being blind voters and start being conscientious voters, looking at candidates outside of their party affiliation.

This does not mean we should stop fighting for what we believe. That, perhaps, is our most sacred duty as Americans. We need to examine the way that we fight, and make sure that it is effective and productive. At this point, fighting the presidential election results is a waste of energy. It’s fine to be unhappy with the results of the election, or with the current administration. That is a right you have as an American citizen. But one must also remember that our duty as citizens is to work for the betterment of our nation, not to walk away and leave things when they are not the way that we want. There has been much talk among the Liberal Left about moving abroad to Canada or other countries as long as the Bush administration is in power. This is not the time to turn our backs on our nation, especially if you are unhappy with the current state of affairs.

Try to look past people’s political party affiliation, and instead see the person behind that red or blue shirt. Try to have a non-confrontational discussion with someone who holds different political views from you . We are citizens of a great and diverse nation, but not a perfect one. We need to understand each other, and reach across the lines that divide us. As Americans we need to celebrate our differences, not condemn them. A truly great citizen, and a truly great president, is one whose primary identity is neither Democratic or Republican, but American.