Volume 12, Issue 45 ~ November 4 - November 10, 2004
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After We Vote, Forging Unity

On Election Day, everything seems possible, and everyone is king.

Brad Jewitt might claim the title of congressman or Patsy Allen congresswoman. John Kerry could be president.

Inspired by that heady sense of possibility, 2.17 million Marylanders voted on November 2 — many standing in long lines, as did voters across the country — to have their say in this democracy of ours.

The day after Election Day, it’s a whole new world. Coming out of this passionate and polarized election season, more than half of us have won. At the same time, nearly half of us have lost. Now the two halves must figure out how to make a whole.

For Republicans, it’s time to savor a sweeping victory. It’s been a century since a GOP president and a GOP Congress were elected. But that’s what happened Tuesday.

With victory comes responsibility, and we’re hoping that in the months ahead, the GOP will broaden its agenda beyond terrorism, tax cuts and social conservatism. Now that George W. Bush has won a second term, we’re hoping for more attention to health care and the environment among other issues.

Democrats are smarting in the wake of John Kerry’s defeat, dumbfounded that their candidate didn’t poll stronger given the passion they poured into his campaign. Out of power in the Statehouse, White House and Congress, the Maryland Democratic Party’s next step must be going beyond grieving to soul-searching and reevaluating what the party stands for, what it’s doing right — and where it’s gone wrong.

Win or lose, the political parties are used to it. They’ll be at it soon enough with plenty of races to be run in ’06, when we’ll be electing a governor, state senators and delegates, county executives and commissioners.

It’s people who have the harder task, as we seek ways of being both good winners and good losers now that we’re passed election season.

Our nation is better at waging war than at making peace. As Bob Auerbach reminded citizens last week — when the Green Party candidate still just might have won a seat representing the Fifth Congressional District — we fund national academies to teach war, while peace has no place at our table.

Today the votes have been counted. We citizens know better than ever where we stand and what divides us. But, winners and losers, we’re on our own in learning how to bridge that divide to stand united.

Post-election, we need wisdom, and we’d like to hear your ideas. Write them briefly (under 250 words), as letters to the editor, or at greater length (about 600 words) as Commentaries. Include your name, address and phone number and send to [email protected]. or click here to submit them online.

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