No matter how the election swings, life in Columbia, and thousands of other small towns across America, will go on.
Over the past year, the election, branded with “choose or lose” or “vote or die” sucked the energy from our souls. We drank morning cups of news, speculation and suggestion. But the polls are closed now and we should take a breather from relentless partisanship.
Every small town is special in its own way. Columbia is particularly special. It ranks among the best places to live in America, it’s considered a great spot to retire to and it’s up there with the health-oriented towns. Columbia is featured in newspapers and magazines across the country, and recently Forbes called it a porch swing community -– a budding place for interaction and growth. These are not coincidences. If Columbia is growing because of its people, than we have to respect our fellow Columbians.
We are separating people by political party and the candidate they support, drenching them in slurs depending on the bumper sticker gracing the back of their cars. The 2004 election has divided friends, families and neighbors.
Soon, the election crescendo will quiet, and life will resume a less aggressive course. People will turn from passionate campaigners into simple supporters of a cause. They will turn from adversaries back into work colleagues, teammates, water cooler friends and fellow students.
We have seen a year’s worth of uncivil, even downright nasty, campaign trail discourse. It’s now time to bury the electoral hatchet and return to building our town. We fought for and against development, brought downtown to life, danced at the Twilight festival and cheered for our teams. We built houses, opened businesses, welcomed refugees and stood behind our schools and universities. We did all those together, united not behind a political cause, but behind our town.
It’s time to say hello to our neighbors as they take down their partisan yard signs. It’s time to drop the name-calling and political labeling in favor of civility and community.
It’s time for Columbia.