What can be done to heal the wound in the social fabric?
OK, it's over. It's settled. It's done. All that's left are the hard feelings, the torn family fabric, the guilt, and regret over what's been said to people close to us. We now have plenty of time to lament our behavior during the last several months. (You know what I'm talking about.)
Now that we can disengage from the ads, slogans, slurs, half-truths and misrepresentations, we can begin to see how juvenile our conduct has been and start to realize how we have been manipulated by the political parties, media and talk-show hosts into actually believing that every race was a life-or-death matter.
Every election takes on the characteristics of war, and one of the basic tactics is to demonize the opponent. The parties have become very adept at this. As our remorse deepens, what can be done to heal the wound in the social fabric?
We could begin by spending some time researching calmly and intellectually the opposition's positions, not to rebut them but to attempt to understand why they are held by so many people, to see if there are areas with which we could agree or at least live with. This exercise would be far more productive than analyzing what went wrong with the losing campaign and what worked well for the winners. Remember: A couple of electoral votes one way or another is not a mandate. If nothing else, the last few years have shown that attempting to govern with only half the country's support is not effective.
Maybe the concept of compromise doesn't start in Washington. Maybe our representatives aren't the leaders, but the followers. Maybe the political party platforms should be made to reflect a united will to compromise. Maybe if, during this period of calm and reflection, we start to discuss areas of compromise rather than maintain mutual hatred, we could use our political creativity to force national convergence. Maybe then we could atone for the societal damage done during the campaigns and set a new tone for the next election. Maybe.
EDDIE RYSHAVY, PLYMOUTH
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I received a love letter. Written in pencil on lined notebook paper and decorated with a heart, it was from a first-grader in the school where I volunteer. The message was simple, short and poetic:
Now that the election is over, perhaps you have a bit of time to turn from politics to volunteering with children. The rewards are sweet.
PEG MEIER, MINNEAPOLIS
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I would hope the loser is saying: "I should have weighed in on global warming, drones, nuclear threats and squelching whistleblowers."
BARBARA VAILE, MINNEAPOLIS
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We made it through another campaign season, and here are my totals from the 71 "mailbox postcards" left at my home in the north-central suburbs over the past six weeks.
• Mailings related to the presidency: Four -- two that were pro-Romney and two that were anti-Obama.
• U.S. Senate: None.
• State Senate: Forty-six -- 20 pro-Kruse, 10 anti-Kruse, eight pro-Hoffman and eight anti-Hoffman.
• State House: Eleven -- six pro-Hortman, two anti-Hortman, three pro-Reinhardt.
• Marriage amendment: Four -- all to vote "yes."
• Other races: County commissioner (three), City Council (two), parks (one).
Interestingly, of the 46 mailings for the state Senate, no two were exactly alike.
BRIAN JOHNSON, BROOKLYN PARK
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The past few weeks have been ugly ones for America, from Superstorm Sandy to the final push by political campaigns. Who would have thought that the sole bright spot from the week would have been ... "Star Wars"?
Yes, the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney should put a smile on all of our faces. Not because of the guaranteed three more Star Wars films, but because of George Lucas, who came out and said that he would donate the $4.05 billion he made from the sale to education.
As a high school student, I would like to thank Mr. Lucas for his contribution to society. I must admit that though I admire his past work in moviemaking, I never gave much thought to who the man really was. Now, I consider him to be one of my inspirations.
SHEA BRENNAN, EDEN PRAIRIE
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One of the many acts of kindness in the wake of Hurricane Sandy were the hundred of runners who literally made a virtue out of a necessity.
Power outages, fuel shortages and washed-out roads made getting food and water to where it was needed extremely difficult. Not a problem for these runners, who came to the aid of their hosts Sunday by carrying food, water and supplies to areas of New York city that needed it most.
The race of 2012 will be the New York Marathon that wasn't, but these runners upheld a greater tradition, that of triumph in the face of adversity. In 490 B.C., a Greek runner named Pheidippides announced to Athenians that their city would survive because the Persian Army of Darius had been defeated at the Battle of Marathon.
There will be other marathon races, but this year will be remembered by New Yorkers for the acts of kindness of these runners who put aside their disappointment and realized that the needs of the many outweigh those of the few -- or the one.
BENJAMIN CHERRYHOMES, HASTINGS