Cooper: Damage control

Don’t let the air out of your balloon so fast that you fly around the room and crash to the ground, a flattened version of your former self. All over the nation today, balloons are being burst for those whose candidate failed to win the Presidency of the United States.

I don’t know who you are or if I will be among you; what I do know is that those of us who feel passionately about our candidate will feel devastated and desolate if he or she loses. Highs and lows, exhilarations and depressions have been the moments of this campaign. The loss, like the campaign, will have very little middle ground.

If our candidate loses, the worst we can feel is despair and the best we can feel is relief that it’s over. Our emotions, often fueled by the media attention, have blinded us to any substantive discussion of policy differences. The contentious nature of the campaign captured our emotional selves and left many of us worn and dispirited.

We have been left fearful of the future if “the other side” wins.

Stop the presses

Can we get over the rancor between us? Will revenge become the people’s business? The media’s penchant for sensationalizing controversy to improve ratings is well known. We’ve heard it and we’ve watched it. We’ve gotten headaches and stomachaches over so much unsubstantiated allegations, innuendo and speculation.

I write this column one week before the final election. I can’t convey how much I want to be hopeful in my message and importantly, inside myself.

However, I am beginning to feel set up by the media and opposing sides for endless months of dissention. It doesn’t seem to matter who wins, media reports that opponents are poised to make the President miserable and ineffective in making any meaningful change.

A Clinton Presidency is predicted to involve continuous investigations by Congress and promises not to confirm an appointment to the Supreme Court.

A Trump Presidency is predicted to involve a destabilization of relationships with current allies and monitoring by the opposition party for any signs of abuse of power.

Messages of hope have been buried in the rhetoric of division. Hope doesn’t seem to make news or ratings.

This campaign has been reduced to rapt attention of the kind reserved for watching a hurricane devastate an entire city or peering at the aftermath of a bus accident in which 13 innocent people died.

We will watch because we are powerless to do anything else but it doesn’t mean we like it or don’t feel the loss. Most of us receive no pleasure from our fascination with terrible events that destroy people. We often see it as a warning.

The question now is, can we take a hard look at our own behavior, get over it and support a renewed vision for this country. Then, call upon our new President and Congress to work together for a united country.

Start with damage control. Work to restore the trust of the people on all points of the political spectrum. Form processes that require working together. Speak out loud about differences in policies, look for common ground, be transparent.

No question, it’s going to be tricky given all the deflated spirits littering the ground in campaign aftermath.

The people’s business

The terrible irony of sensationalized media coverage that highlights outrageous threats is that it fuels the very thing that people want changed; that is ending ineffective governing built on arcane rules, ending power plays that impact our lives and ending the waste of taxpayer money.

In other words, restore effective governing at the highest levels.

If the way it is now, purposeful gridlock, continues, the people’s business can’t get done. Governing in an environment of “all or nothing” is mostly nothing.

Our next President and Congress must commit to democracy and govern under the law. Our next President and Congress needs to divert tax money from pointless political investigations to meaningful and productive governing that accomplishes the people’s business.

Sure, the people’s business has a variety of interpretations; we don’t all agree. We can’t expect that the extremes of “no government” and “government solves everything” to find common ground.

My guess is there is common ground to be found between the extremes. Families generally want the same things — safety, economic security and opportunity. They want a fair living field in which they can trust.

None of this is easy in our huge, diverse and complicated country, yet we have a good start if we recognize the values and dreams we share and stop believing it’s a zero-sum game.

I expect our new President to be the leader and the inspiration. I expect the new President to surround himself or herself with the best possible minds who promise integrity, not political mischief. I expect the new President to work with leadership in Congress and political parties to engage in the promise for the people, of the people and by the people. That would be all people, not just some.

I want to feel hope for the future is in the hands, mind and heart of the new President. We must believe it’s possible.

Bertha D. Cooper is retired from a 40-plus year career as a health care administrator focusing on the delivery system as a whole. She still does occasional consulting. She is a featured columnist at the Sequim Gazette. Reach her at columnists@sequimgazette.com.

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