This is being written on Election Day long before the polls close and hours before we know what actually transpired on election night. Maybe the state and nation spoke clearly, and maybe votes still are being counted. Perhaps lawsuits have been filed and protesters are in the streets.
Whatever the outcome, the word we urge all sides to embrace is restraint.
Violence can’t be an acceptable response to political disputes, even at the end of one of the nastiest, most divisive election cycles in the nation’s history. The world is watching to see whether the United States remains capable of being a beacon for democracy, or is just another troubled region that no longer can restrain its worst political impulses.
Remaining calm does not mean accepting malfeasance. Nor does it mean forgetting the damage done to the nation over the last four years, the smashing of democratic norms, the demonizing of immigrants, the embrace of white supremacy and the mishandling of a deadly pandemic.
Restraint and calm mean giving our institutions and processes time to work through whatever issues remain unresolved. It’s normal for elections to be messy in the U.S. And although our institutions and processes have been dented and damaged, taking our political fights outside of them to the streets will only further erode confidence in our electoral system and the outcome.
When the dust settles, we’re all still living in the same country, facing the same massive problems.
The coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. and in Iowa is worsening, with a long winter ahead. The economy certainly will take yet another hit as the virus spreads.
Tens of millions of Americans might lose their access to health care if the Supreme Court overturns the Affordable Care Act. The drive for racial justice in America continues against considerable pushback. A climate crisis with far-reaching consequences remains largely unaddressed by our government.
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Regardless of how we feel about the election’s outcome, and no matter who is in charge, these are the problems we all face. And if partisan outrage continues to take the place of cooperation and the common good, these challenges will only get much worse.
We used to wage elections and then come together to govern. We disagreed, but we also found some common ground and consensus solutions. We have to find our way back to that place, or remain lost in a chaotic wilderness governed only by anger and fear.
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