One of the things I like about the Wall Street Journal and Public Broadcasting is that instead of throwing 45 seconds of inflammatory information at you, or peppering you with controversial statements that are chosen more to get ratings than to inform, is that when they cover a story, they do so in depth. I’m not suggesting there isn’t any bias, but there is a lot of meat to the story and room to form your own opinion. That has not been the case with mainstream media for some years. The days of Edward R Murrow are long gone and even young journalists who start out with ideals, soon discover that with 24/7 news coverage, sensation is what sells, not just straight unbiased journalism. So it's been hard to find a balanced, even handed voice in the campaign that has dominated the news over the past several months. And if you pay much attention to social media the outrageous, over-the-top, often blatantly distorted stories are even less informative and more vicious.
But then there’s another reality. If you haven’t seen the movie, A Few Good Men, (1992) let me recap. Tom Cruise, playing the young idealistic Navy Jag lawyer, LTJG Kaffee, had Colonel Jessup played by Jack Nicholson on the witness stand. The dialog went like this:
Col. Jessup: “You want answers?”
LTJG Kaffee: “I think I’m entitled to them.”
Col. Jessup: Beginning to get angry, “You want answers?”
LTJG Kaffee: “I want the truth.”
Col. Jessup: “ You can’t handle the truth!”
Colonel Jessup went on to explain how things worked in the military, especially the military as he saw it. He understood the risks that soldiers take that those who have never been on a battlefield will never fully appreciate and he resented this idealistic young lawyer badgering him for answers that he was sure would not be understood.
Politics like war, has unpalatable truths that not everyone wants to know or hear. Among those who support Hillary Clinton, there is an incredible level of skepticism about her truthfulness, but to dig deeper into the veracity of her public persona requires a willingness to accept undesirable facts. For those who think Donald Trump is the least of the evils, it takes an ostrich to hide from acknowledging the worst of his offenses. The ratings for both are abysmally low and no one believes a third party candidate can actually win which leaves all of us making a choice whether we to admit to the uncomfortable truths or not.
But by this time tomorrow, there will be a winner – probably. There have been times in our history that the final vote came from our congress. But presumably, we will know who takes over the reins next January. We’ll also know if the new congress will be left or right leaning. If we listen to all the talking heads we’ll be overrun with conjecture about the Supreme Court, the future of our military, the continued threat of terrorism, immigration, joblessness and national debt. Conjecture that is not always the truth it is presented as. It depends on which channels you watch or what papers you read. Either way, it’s mostly heavy handed opinion. On one station the world will be a rosy place. On the other, it will be doomsday. But we can be braver than that. Find the courage to handle the truths about our country, our leaders, our government and what we as voters can do to keep America strong and confident in an ever changing world.
And even more importantly, find the open mindedness not to let the outcome ruin friendships, families and relationships with the people in your neighborhoods. This campaign has been incredibly divisive. Tomorrow morning, it will be time to mend fences. Remember the words of both Trump and Clinton at the end of the final debate when they were asked to say one positive thing about the other. Clinton waffled at first, saying she admired Donald Trump’s children, but then added “I think that says a lot about Donald.” Trump responded with, “I will say this about Hillary. She doesn’t quit. She doesn’t give up. I respect that.”
Let’s show respect for each other regardless of who we supported in the campaign and regardless of who wins. Let’s all be Americans tomorrow. Not Democrats or Republicans. But Americans - eager and hopeful for a better, brighter future for our country and all who call the United States home.