11/02/2012 07:58 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Why the Day After Election Day Matters Most


Tuesday, election day, is going to be a big day, there's no doubt about it. Americans when they go to the polls will be deciding the direction their country takes -- on the economy, health care, big or small government, taxes, marriage, abortion and foreign policy -- for the next four years. And since America, not China or Russia or Eurocountry, and certainly not Canada, is still the preeminent nation on the planet, this vote means a lot to everyone. Whatever happens, it's going to shape where we all go from here.

But I'd like to talk about what to my mind is an even bigger day -- Wednesday, the day after the election -- because one very important thing in America needs to change and Wednesday is when it has to start. What I'm talking about is the partisanization of the public along political lines, which has gotten way out of hand and keeps getting worse.

American people, can you not see how politicized you have become, how the toxic sludge of politics has poisoned your perspective? In the epicentre of democracy, that it now appears one half of the population is willing to write off the other half simply because they voted for someone else is just galling. It's gotten so bad I think here in Canada we've been infected, too.

Really, one should be capable of fraternizing with his or her neighbour, even if they disagree on Democrats or Republicans, because there is a more fundamental belief they share, namely, the core philosophy that every person, no matter what he or she thinks, deserves the opportunity to vote for their government, and to openly denounce its leaders if that's what they want to do -- we call that "democracy."

You wouldn't know it from observing this election cycle, where it appears there are two deeply divided groups of people in the United States who don't even speak the same language and call each other bad names on Facebook, but the truth is the two political sides of America have more in common than they think. There's a shared foundation there, a kinship -- you tend to only see it nowadays when the country experiences a major disaster, like a terrorist attack or a superstorm, and everyone instinctively bands together, but it's still definitely there.

I'm not suggesting after Tuesday Americans should stop caring about politics completely. This would be a bad idea, since it's the only real way to keep slimy politicians in line. And, yes, political affiliation does define all of us to a certain extent, says a lot about what we believe is right and wrong. But it's not the be all and end all, and it certainly doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to get along with a Republican if you vote Democrat, and vice-versa.

Take your friends and family: Think about everything you disagree with them about -- there's a lot. You disagree about at least as many things as you agree about, probably more -- but that doesn't mean you can't appreciate and enjoy those relationships. If anything, the disagreements are actually healthy: if we just agreed all the time there wouldn't be any need to communicate since we'd all know exactly what we all thought.

The disagreements give us things to talk about, which is the principle fun of friendship, and they offer new insight and opinion, which is good brain exercise to combat all the crap on TV and the Internet. If anything, Republicans need Democrats, and Democrats need Republicans; without each other, the country would lose its drive and ambition, and shrivel up.

Look, someone is going to win and someone is going to lose Tuesday, there are going to be a lot of disappointed people and the temptation for those on the losing side will be to accuse the winners of cheating and complain about how awful the next four years are going to be and hashtag everything #movingtoCanada. Don't be so over-dramatic.

Life will go on just like it did before, pretty much. The things that are going to be different will have little or no bearing on regular, daily life -- you'll have to search long and hard for what's actually changed. So take a few deep breaths, put things in perspective, and then get on with it. There'll still be more than enough time to bicker -- the rematch is just a few years down the road, after all. In the meantime, though, can't you all just get along?