Finding peace post-election.
And so ends the longest presidential election in American history…exhausted? Me too. However, there is no rest for the weary patriot. As Edmund Burke once stated, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
As of Tuesday, we have a new president whether it’s the one you voted for or not. We made a choice between two of the most unpopular and unprincipled presidential candidates of all time. We, the American people, chose. This is on us, all of us.
It’s time to shake off our disappointment, our cynicism, our anger, and our frustration. It’s time to make sure that the next time around our principles are clearer, our conversations more substantial, and our nominees more worthy to be the leader of 320 million people. It’s time to make sure that the debacle that has been the last 596 days never repeats itself again.
This solution won’t found in the White House, the Capitol, the studios of CNN/NBC/Fox/ABC/CBS, or other institutions of consolidated power and influence.
The solution is found in our families, our hometowns, and our local communities. It is found in the churches, Rotary Clubs, Knights of Columbus, city councils, book clubs, Daughters of the American Revolution, school boards, and other equally important civil organizations. It is found with us in the civil institutions that we take an active part in creating and building.
Or that’s where it should be found.
We’ve sadly neglected these institutions, which are the true wellspring of American civil life. We’ve decided to trust the government more than our neighbors, trading the chance to flourish for a sense of false security.
It’s time to change that.
It’s time to bring civil society back.
It’s time to invest our hope in the community around us, not in Washington D.C.
It’s time to remember that this crazy experiment in self-government is far from over.
It’s time to remember that we, the people, have a crucial role in said experiment. Unfortunately, it is a role that we have been all too happy to delegate.
Yes, I realize that I haven’t said anything about who actually won the election on Tuesday. It’s quite intentional. Why? Because I’ve decided I’m not going to spend the next four years agonizing over the decisions of the president. Additionally, I’m not going to spend too much time being annoyed with Congress either. I’ve been doing it for the past 8 years and, frankly, I’m tired of it.
Instead, I, like John Adams before me, am going to think, read, and write. I am going to study the law. I am going to work hard to build upon my principles, challenging myself along the way. I am going to take active part in the community around me and love the people God has put into my life during this season. I’m going to invest in the civil institutions that I find fulfilling in order to help restore civil life in America. I am going to help establish a future that I can be proud of. I am going to cling to my idealism to the best of my ability.
The next four years are going to be tough. The aftermath of 2016 will be felt by all of us for quite a while into the future. However, we have at least a one or two years before the airwaves once again become inundated with 24-hour election coverage. If we don’t want a repeat of this year, I suggest that you turn off the TV and grab coffee with an old friend. Start a book club. Run for city council. Fight political correctness on your campus. Volunteer at a local food bank. Attend church. Read the newspaper. Support local businesses. Invest in your family, friends, and community. Rediscover what really matters.
Spoiler alert—it’s not politics. It’s much more important than that.
Sarah Telle is a first year law student at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. She spends her very limited free time reading, writing, chatting with family and friends, drinking Diet Coke, and baking cookies. Sarah especially loves puzzling out how to talk about and apply the past with its triumphs and failures to the future in interesting new ways.