The anger and vitriol across U.S. has been high in recent weeks. The election, the state of race relations, and Covid have all been a drain. I’ve been pretty vocal about how I will vote on Tuesday, but my hope remains that, whatever the result, America will be able to stand together and support our chosen president come inauguration day.
I remember a time when Republicans, Democrats and even Independents used to work together on issues of commonality and when voters of all stripes could stand behind our president for the good of the entire country. It wasn’t that long ago. Here’s a few examples of statesmanship and leadership that come to mind and that I hope return again:
–Respectful disagreement. In a widely-circulated video from the 2008 presidential campaign, Sen. John McCain calls for respect for his then-opponent and eventual winner, President Barack Obama.
Several supporters in a rally told McCain that they couldn’t trust Obama and worried for the country’s future. “No ma’am,” McCain said. “He’s a decent family man, a citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about.”
–Common interests. At his inauguration, with the world seeming to readying itself for a fight, newly elected President John F. Kennedy brought the country together using language that everyone could get behind and support. “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavour will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”
–United in support of common good. President Ronald Reagan went to the Brandenburg Gate in Germany in June 1987 and called on General Secretary Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. Whether U.S. citizens liked or hated Reagan, they could all support his request.
“Behind me stands a wall that encircles the free sectors of this city, part of a vast system of barriers that divides the entire continent of Europe. . . . Standing before the Brandenburg Gate, every man is a German, separated from his fellow men. Every man is a Berliner, forced to look upon a scar. . . . As long as this gate is closed, as long as this scar of a wall is permitted to stand, it is not the German question alone that remains open, but the question of freedom for all mankind. . . .General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate.
Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
–Disagreement without hatred. I may have pie-in-the-sky wishes, but I don’t think so. I say that because you still see small snip-its of bipartisanship and statesmanship in the present day. A few weeks ago, Republican Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox and Democrat and law professor Chris Peterson, both vying to become the governor of Utah, released a shared video calling for voters to be civil and for residents to get out and vote. They stated that voters could debate the issues without degrading each other.
Now that’s a message I can get behind. Now get out and vote.