Remember the days when we were Americans first? The Mesa Tribune | The Hometown Newspaper for the city of Mesa, AZ

Remember the days when we were Americans first?

Remember the days when we were Americans first?

By David Leibowitz
Tribune Columnist

Right about now you’re wishing for the end of Election 2020.

You want to see that perma-sneer wiped off the face of President Donald Trump. Or you’re praying to be saved from the radical Left and Old Joe Biden, who’s been kicking around Washington since Gerald Ford was President.

I’ve got news for you, people. Be careful what you wish for.

Because – here’s a sure thing – whatever comes next after Nov. 3 likely won’t be rainbows and unicorns, sweetness and light.

It will surely be more ugliness personified, more of the same bile and darkness that today defines our politics and so much else about this nation.

Did you ever think you’d live in a time where 225,000 people could die in a pandemic and still millions of us would question whether “the virus is real” or fight like hell to avoid wearing a mask to the grocery store?

Did you ever think that two adults vying for leadership of the Free World would require their microphones to be turned off when it isn’t their turn to speak because otherwise an actual conversation would be impossible?

Did you ever think you’d live to see law enforcement viewed by so many as the enemy, to be disbanded and defunded or where news outlets would so compromise their credibility, they, too, are being defunded one subscriber and sponsor at a time?

If all of the above can happen – and it has – why should the aftermath of this cesspool of an election be anything but more of the same – more partisanship, more division, more lowering the bar and raising the volume?

In this same space in 2016, on the Sunday after Election Day, I wrote:

“This nation, this state, this Valley, is not divided by race alone. We are divided by gender, education, income, religion and, more than anything else, by molten anger, a lava-hot rage that, in the end, consumed the 2016 election whole.”

Today, that rage is even hotter and there’s more of it.

This has me thinking back to Election 2008, to a beautiful speech made by the last politician I dared love, the late Sen. John McCain.

He had only just learned that he would never live his dream of being President, that he had lost to Barack Obama. McCain took the stage at the Arizona Biltmore and spoke of his disappointment, his opponent, his country.

“Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain. These are difficult times for our country, and I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.

“I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our goodwill and earnest effort to find ways to come together, to find the necessary compromises, to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity,
defend our security in a dangerous world,
and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

“Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.”

Can you imagine either side saying the above and meaning it in 2020? Can you imagine either victorious camp accepting the extended hand with grace and sincerity?

Me neither.

But maybe that’s because some of us still miss the days when we were Americans first and everything else came second. Those days will be a little farther in the rearview mirror after this election, mark my words.

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