At a local Veterans Day event this week, someone made the comment that, despite all the turmoil in our nation these days, more than anything else, we are all Americans, and in the days to come we should all do our part to elevate American principles above all else.
While those are not my words, I could not agree more.
Those who know me well know that I was not pleased with the outcome of the presidential election (yes, it is over, and come January we will have a new president).
I think it’s shame that the Democratic Party, at the national level at least, spent the last four years trying to take our president down rather than working to fix the many problems we have in this country. On the other hand, I am sure there are many others — as the election proved — who believe the Democratic Party was doing exactly what it should have been doing in trying to unseat an unfit president.
I am not well-versed when it comes to politics, and to be honest, I have no desire to be, especially on the national level. But I believe Donald Trump did many good things for our country, things many of his predecessors did not have the courage to do, especially when it comes to his dealings with foreign countries and leveling the playing field.
In my opinion, Mr. Trump would have easily won the 2020 election, if in the past four years he could have controlled his emotions, kept his mouth shut when criticized, and not offended so many of our fellow citizens. But that was not the case.
The day after the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, I received an email, like all newspaper editors across the country, from Bill Stepien, Trump’s 2020 campaign manager. Its first sentence said: “President Trump just turned in the greatest debate performance in presidential history, displaying a command of the facts and control of the conversation.”
I usually do not respond to such emails, but after having watched the entire debate, I could not help myself on that occasion.
So I responded: “You must be kidding, and I’m a Republican strongly opposed to the leftist ideology of the Democrats. Trump looked like a buffoon, a mouthy, impatient, spoiled child who completely lacks the ability to overlook any critical commentary whatsoever. Of course, we already knew that, but he took the cake last night. I was embarrassed for our country. He showed absolutely none of the qualities I look for in a president. I will not vote for Biden, but I will not vote for Trump either.”
I have a feeling I was not the only Republican-leaning person who felt that way.
Somewhere along the line, the leader of our country has to show some of the gutsy qualities Trump displayed when dealing with other countries. But that leader must also show compassion, understanding for other points of view, and charisma. Trump showed none of those last three, and it cost him another term as president.
So while I was disappointed with the outcome of the presidential election, I have to have hope. I hope Joe Biden can find a way to mend our fractured country. I hope he can find a successful way to guide us through the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope the Republican Party does not spend the next four years trying to tear him apart.
I do not care what side of the political fence you stand on. I do not care if you disagree with me. We are never going to all agree on everything. What I care about is that we can disagree respectfully, and when the day is done, we can be respectful of our differences. I hope that we can be open-minded enough to seriously consider opposing points of view, and when our points of view still differ, that we can shake hands and walk away with a common understanding.
Like my friend said on Veterans Day, I hope we can love America more than our political parties and political preferences.
When that happens, America will truly be great again.
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-402-2522.