Whew, it's over! Thank God. Our democracy survived, but ... we have sunk to new lows. I am writing to the adults who have won sacred positions of leadership — and to those who hold the critically important job of keeping our citizenry well-informed. As a first generation American, a combat veteran and a member of the clergy, I am writing to implore you to fulfill clarified duties on behalf of "we the people."

1) All victors: Be humble, we are still bitterly divided. No one has received a clear mandate. Winners won the right to help unite us and move toward the middle, where most of us live, in order to create solutions that involve compromise and result in the greatest good for the most people. The political class spent an ungodly amount of money scaring the hell out of us. That was wrong. Now you owe it to the public to undo the damage and move away from the fringes of your parties and the certainty of your ideologies toward the center.

2) Republicans, you were punished for threatening the rule of law. You deserved it. My mother came to this great country from war-torn France after World War II and she instilled a respect for law and order in me that the U.S. Army and 31 years of military service could not improve upon.

Cut your ties with our former president and all those with loyalties to him. Abandon election deniers and hucksters who sell conspiracies and misinformation (and throw out the anti-Semitic agitators and other racists as well). As soon as you do that you'll see the red tide you falsely prophesied rise. If you don't do it, a third party will rise from the center and you'll be marginalized.

3) Democrats, you have power over the legislative process in Minnesota — barely. Tread lightly. Some 46% of the voters said "No" to re-electing Gov. Tim Walz. Broad geographic areas of our state absolutely oppose all you stand for. The way you use the power you have in the upcoming biennium, and whom you favor with that power, will reveal your soul as a party.

I pray you are wiser than your left wing, more charitable than your social media agitators and possess more common sense than your ideologues. Please move toward the center where most of us live and work.

We really are frightened by crime, whether you see it as a problem or not. We really do want more say in how children are educated. We don't want to be disrespected or belittled because we are religious. We do want accountability for our state agencies.

We laud your desire for equality for the poor, our Native American neighbors and our BIPOC brothers and sisters. But dividing us up by ZIP codes and pitting us against each other is a short-term strategy that will never result in lasting solutions.

4) Members of our critically important media: You have to find a way to balance the inordinate amount of coverage you give to the extreme wings of both parties with the great work being done on common ground between the parties. The more you tell us the "house is on fire" and the "world is ending" the more we divide and hide for our own survival. You took a lot of money to air campaign rhetoric that was not fit for human consumption. (Thank God for remote control devices!)

We are not going to survive as a republic with media that become mouthpieces for one party or the other, sensationalists or bomb throwers. Time to clean up your act and raise the level of discourse for the common good.

I for one will be praying for the success of those who are taking office. Thank God for our democratic experiment. Now let's do the people's business.

John Joseph Morris, of Afton, is a retired Army chaplain.