The American elections having successfully concluded with the re-election of President Obama to a second term in office, discussion will soon return to our own looming elections and what is at stake. As we prepare to immerse ourselves in the full depths of political rallies and electioneering, we should take a moment to reflect on some things that were said last night in America.
In his speech accepting the office of Presidency for another term, Obama made the following observation about politics in a democracy – even one as old as America’s:
Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy.
That won’t change after tonight, and it shouldn’t. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.
Obama went on to talk not about the differences between his Democrat supporters and their opponents the Republicans, but the hopes and dreams that they both shared.
Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It’s not always a straight line. It’s not always a smooth path.
By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won’t end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over.
And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you’ve made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.
These inspiring words could be a clue to what has made America successful – their willingness to keep their commonality in view, even when they disagree. Even more amazing, though, was the reaction of the loser – Mitt Romney. When he was told that he had lost the election, he did not call for his supporters to take to the streets. He did not challenge the outcome in the courts. He picked up the phone and called Obama to congratulate him and said that he prays for Obama’s success.
I have just called President Obama to congratulate him on his victory. His supporters and his campaign also deserve congratulations…This is a time of great challenges for America, and I pray that the president will be successful in guiding our nation.
Then, Romney told his disappointed supporters this:
The nation, as you know, is at a critical point. At a time like this, we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work.
And we citizens also have to rise to the occasion. We look to our teachers and professors, we count on you not just to teach, but to inspire our children with a passion for learning and discovery.
We look to our pastors and priests and rabbis and counselors of all kinds to testify of the enduring principles upon which our society is built: honesty, charity, integrity and family.
We look to our parents, for in the final analysis everything depends on the success of our homes.
We look to job creators of all kinds. We’re counting on you to invest, to hire, to step forward.
And we look to Democrats and Republicans in government at all levels to put the people before the politics.
“Put the people before the politics.” Such a simple message, but one that can mean the difference between years of fighting and years of progress.
Our own national elections will begin soon. We will have the opportunity to choose our own leaders and to make our own future. When all the votes are counted, some of us will be satisified and some of us will be unsatisfied also. But instead of rejecting the outcome if it doesn’t suit our preferences, we should take a lesson from the American elections and in the words of Obama “make the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward” and in the words of Romney “put the people before the politics”.