Respect

There is little art in American political warfare; it’s mostly science. Engineer a victory at all cost. This last one set us back a staggering $1 billion, but it’s the other cost that is wrecking us.

The animosity incited by negative political campaigns does not evaporate after election night. It has to be neutralized, and that requires some leadership skills that haven’t gotten much play in recent years. How do you initiate conciliatory measures toward those you have debased? And how are they to trust the olive branch you extend? How do you disengage the machinery that foments anger, hatred, and fear, and what do you do with that toxic waste that turns out the vote but poisons common ground?

Allowing an adversary to “save face” is an Eastern expression of artful wisdom. It is unworthy to plunder an opponent of respect, and it is foolish if you wish to enlist their cooperation in the future. Within our nation, we may have irreconcilable differences in our political world views, but we need not accept a political process that erodes our humanity. Now that the election is over, how we carry on is everyone’s responsibility. Restoring some dignity to our political process and respect for each other’s humanity is a good place to begin.

“Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody.”

— Franklin P. Adams