People will be reflecting on this past week’s general election for many months, if not years to come.

The events of 2020 defined a political campaign season like we have never seen before. While most of the state and local races have been decided as of this writing, the occupancy of the White House is still up for grabs. The fate of a few dozen remaining contested electoral votes from several undecided states has been slowed by manual tabulation and court challenges. The last few seats of both chambers of Congress that will determine the balance of power are also still being decided. It seems uncertain that by the time this is published, the results will be finalized so our nation can start to come together and put this very divisive election in the rear-view mirror.

What will we learn from this unprecedented election? How will it impact future elections? How will the voting process be affected for future elections? While it is way too early to come to any conclusions, I think it is safe to say one big positive thing for sure. There was record voter participation! Many people who don’t regularly vote became passionately motivated enough by the issues to exercise their constitutional freedom. The election summary for Kosciusko County reported a voter turn-out of 66.35%! While I am no historian of such numbers, a quick county search of recent elections revealed the next closest number locally was 61% in the 2012 presidential election year.

“Every vote counts!” is not just a cliché, it is a foundational principle of our democratic republic. All elections, past, present, and future, bear that out.

This recent election polarized our nation. One example I noticed was the fact that many presidential election polls conducted in the last several weeks didn’t seem to contain a significant number of “undecided” voters. The prevalence of negative campaigning seemed especially dominant, relegating to a dwindling minority, those who campaigned positively.  Unfortunately, it just seems to be acceptable campaign tactic anymore.

So how do we move forward from the divisiveness this election seemed to magnify? The framers of our constitution intended the transfer of power to be peaceful and seamless, no matter the outcome.  

Accepting the outcome of the election process is foundational to our representative form of government. Differences of opinion and political philosophy will always exist in our two-party system but there is no need to draw “battle lines.” How do we begin to come together?

We have a COVID crisis in our community, state and nation. No matter who you voted for or how the election comes out, COVID has no political affiliation. Locally, cases are spiking numbers we have not yet seen in this pandemic. People are getting sick, our hospitals are seeing more activity, and unfortunately, lives are being lost.  COVID is a very contagious, infectious disease that continues unchecked as the result of community spread.  

Making the effort to protect ourselves and others from community spread is an easy thing we can all do. The precautions remain the same. They have not changed. They are simple to follow. They are proven effective.

This is one way we can begin to come together.