Barbara Bush said to the Republican Party last week, “OK, we lost. Get over it, and get on with it!”
She expressed the sentiments of the majority of US citizens of all parties in wanting to get beyond the acrimony, name-calling, the 6 billion dollars spent on an avalanche of negative ads on both sides, and the stalemate in Congress that has lasted for the past four years. Now the real question is, can we bury the hatchets, forgive each other, and move on in cooperation and civility to address the huge issues this country faces? It will require our leaders to place principles above personalities and an egoistical desire for control. It will require humility, and cooperation, and above all, a love for our nation and our God that transcends political bickering. I think of statesmen in both parties who have tried to hold to the common good, namely the first George Bush, Mayor Bloomberg of N.Y., Hillary Clinton, and the late Sen. George McGovern. We desperately need more statesmen right now.
We may have more similar feelings than differences on these common goals:
1. An improved economy with more jobs at home, not abroad.
2. A reduction in government spending, the budget, and the national debt.
3. A necessary increase in taxation (we’ve enjoyed the lowest taxes in 30 years) to include the top 10% paying their fair share.
4. A foreign policy that stresses negotiation, human rights, and peace. That posture will improve our reputation in the world, keep us out of others country’s wars, and will reduce military spending.
5. A reform of the Affordable Health Care Act and other entitlement programs to reduce fraud and waste, and to reach out to every American. This means recognizing that the majority of the ‘47%’ who pay little or no income tax are senior citizens, active and retired military, families working two or more low-pay jobs, the physically and mentally disabled, single mothers, who pay other taxes, and people out of work.
6. A reform of immigration laws.
7. A reform of election processes to protect every citizen’s right to vote.
8. Development of energy resources while protecting the environment.
There are encouraging signs. Last week we saw Mitch McConnell say that there “would be entitlement monies on the table” for our changing citizenry. House Speaker John Boehner and Pres. Obama laughed together and shook hands. Some in the Republican party were talking of the need for the party to return to its position of conservatism without caving to extremist right views and fearful, angry rhetoric. The electorate refused to let our precious vote be bought, and voted instead for Pres. Obama, a moderate centrist who has not been perfect but who has worked for consensus and the common good.
This Thanksgiving, may we give thanks that our system worked without riots or bloodshed, that we live in a country where we enjoy freedom of speech, religion, and opportunity. When we are tempted to criticize, may we speak words of wisdom and gratitude and reconciliation May we all work together towards a more perfect union with liberty and justice for all.