As Facebook gets back to the business of spreading hilarious cat videos, inspirational posters, endless updates on fantastic kids, opinions on chocolate and the ongoing progress of personal exercise regimes, what do we do with all that leftover political hate and bile? Can we become buddies again with that friend we initially hid and eventually unfriended because of all those incredible offensive and vile political slurs he or she posted about our candidate and about all of us who proudly voted for him? And can we go back to wearing red or blue shirts without ticking off someone?
This might just be the effects of my glorious-but-late night at President Barack Obama's victory rally, but I say, "Yes we can."
I'm hoping for a calming peace to ride over her, but I'm still friends with the usually very polite suburban mom who boldly proclaims that Obama's re-election means "we are all going to hell in a handbasket." Apparently, news that Republican Jim Oberweis finally won an election just isn't enough to lift her hopes.
I will still take good column suggestions from the Arlington Heights public relations executive who made it clear in his pre-election postings that he thinks anyone who supports Obama must be seriously demented or mind-numbingly stupid.
I'm going to give well-wishes to the old family friend I see every summer, even though he finally admitted to my Obama-backing mother that he is still a bit too racist to put a black man in the White House.
I don't regret writing a column promoting the good cause of a Hoffman Estates woman, even though she does post a photo of a praying child with the caption, "Lord, deliver us from Obama." I've got groomsmen from my wedding who voted for Romney. I've got loved ones in Texas who still would vote to give George W. Bush a third term. I'm rooting for the Bears on Sunday night even though Jay Cutler voted for Romney.
On the flip side, I hear from readers who abhor my liberal, Obama-loving ways but can still engage me in polite conversations about veterans, some charity they support, or a neighbor they think might give me a good column. I still remember a reader (back in the days before Caller I.D.) who was so upset by a column I wrote about Richard Nixon that he called in the only death threat I've received in my 25 years as a columnist. I recognized his voice a few weeks later when he phoned to tell me about some park district program he thought I should write about. When I pushed him, he apologized for suggesting I be murdered. I accepted his apology.
And that's all I ask today.
The Daily Herald endorsed Mitt Romney, so I've got editors and management types who clearly disagree with my liberal leanings, but they don't fire me. I work with Republicans and Democrats, and we all realize it's in our best interest to pull together for the good of our newspaper. It's a big country. Those of us who agree about who should be president can still find issues to argue about. Those of us who disagree about who should be president can still find ways to cooperate. That's a lesson Congress must learn.
Political divides and hating in our nation are as old as our nation. We've still got Bush-haters, Clinton-haters, Reagan-haters, Carter-haters, Nixon-haters, Johnson-haters and Kennedy-haters. Most of the remaining Eisenhower-bashers have to soften their stance from hate to a gentler "I Don't Like Ike."
As a liberal and a Cubs fan, I'm not that versed in being a gracious winner. But I can assure my political friends that the end is not near just because you lose something (the 2000 election or Game 6 against the Marlins) that you were certain you'd win and feel cheated. R.E.M. (which, for those of you still living in a world where gays are closeted, marijuana is the keystone in our war on drugs, and a black guy might not get an invite to the White House, is a band that became popular during the Reagan administration) used to play a song titled "It is the end of the world as we know it." The final line says, "It is the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine."
I hope we do feel fine.