This is the most anxiety fraught election I’ve experienced in my lifetime.
I would hope–although recent events don’t suggest it–that whatever happens on election night and the weeks after wouldn’t cause violence and rioting. If it does, it isn’t about the election outcome but the moral bankruptcy of those who choose to behave egregiously.
Regardless of your candidate or politics, I would hope all of us do these six things after the election:
1. Support whoever wins, even if you don’t agree with him. I grew up learning to respect not just the President, but the Office of the President. Whoever is elected will wield immense power and his success or failure is our success or failure. We need to put preferences aside and support the office and the country that office represents.
2. Act like adults. Children throw temper tantrums, yell and kick their feet. Existential howling has replaced that behavior in some circles, but I caution against it. A bunch of us won’t be happy with the outcome, but that is not excuse for infantile behavior.
3. Be kind to those with whom you disagree. Disliking or even hating someone because of what he or she believes is a new phenomenon in my experience. Nobody agrees with anybody all of the time. You can hold an intellectually opposite position without demonizing the person you disagree with.
4. Be an example to younger generations. Ask yourself a simple question: Would you like younger American citizens to behave like you do? Would you be proud if your son or daughter emulated your post election actions? If we hope for unity and civility, we must be the ones to model it.
5. Unite for the greater good. One of the many things that makes America great is that historically we’ve put aside individual interests for the greater good. When factions force their agenda above the greater good, democracy suffers. None of us will ever get a utopian version of what we aspire for. We aspire to get us closer to that vision, and we accept that even if we fall short we will be better than we were.
6. Be who you are, not what the masses are. Mob behavior, I’ve read, causes people to behave in ways they otherwise wouldn’t. The group’s behavior is adopted by people who normally wouldn’t behave that way. This acquiescence of our individuality is a sin against both ourselves and our culture. Know what you stand for and behave accordingly. Don’t let others sweep you up in a hysteria of dangerous emotion.
These are my hopes and desire for all of us as Americans. Many have said this is the most important election of our lifetimes, and it may well be. But just as important if not more is what happens after. We can use it to reunite and reconcile or choose another path that takes us farther away from want we want to be.
Mark Sanborn is an award winning speaker and Leadership Expert in Residence at High Point University, the Premier Life Skills University. For more information about his work, visit www.marksanborn.com. He also teaches professional speakers and leaders how to increase their messaging and public speaking effectiveness. Learn more here.