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2012 Fall Issue 8 (November 9, 2012)

What Comes Next?

November 9, 2012
By Matthew Fitzgerald

Carleton has a lot to be proud of this weekend. With the defeat of the Voter ID and Marriage Amendments, the reelection of President Obama, and local candidates, Carls have demonstrated that they do care and are politically engaged. I am proud that this campus turned out voters; nonetheless the implications for our actions are not limited to a single day. The election is over, but our work has just begun.

As a nation, we have created a space and opportunity to change direction and tenor. This election is a definitive action that can be both novel and a promise for something better. Yet this change is a two-part action. Boundless optimisms and blind faith that simply voting can change the country will leave you disappointed. We must follow through on those very beliefs we voted for.

This campaign season has been grueling.  Casual observers and political junkies alike were burnt out on television advertisements and cynicism. It was a bitter fight locally and nationally. Yet, in moments after the announcement of President Obama’s reelection, I had a moment of clarity: we as a nation did come together. The small act of participation is the promise to each other that we believe the system works.  Those who door-knocked, phone banked, talked to friends and family know well the hard work that is takes to put together these moments of success. Their work was leading up to a single moment, but that moment is part of a larger chain.

Each interaction from here on out is an opportunity to continue that hard work –to connect the chain links. Regardless of political persuasion we all are capable of discourse and teamwork. I do not know anyone who wants worse schools or broken communities. We all want to support our veterans and elderly. We are connected as a country in ways deeper than pundits will admit. As Paul Wellstone famously said, “We all do better when we all do better.”  This is the impetus for continued participation and engagement.

The federal government is facing a daunting fiscal crisis that cannot be saved by a divided party system. Climate change is undeniably occurring and the looming crash of energy systems hangs like an albatross around the country’s neck. Immigration and education reform is sorely needed. It is time re re-invest in this country and take responsibility for the future. The road ahead is not an easy one, the choices we have are not always clear or straightforward.

This is an extremely serious time. We do not have the luxury of digging holes or heels. We need practical solutions now. The lessons learned from this election: that we can organize and affect change, that we as a nation can set a mandate, that Carleton students still care all show that we must act. 

Seize this momentum. Hold fast to the knowledge that collectively we share the potential to change our communities and ourselves. We are not limited to elections cycles or ‘300 N. College Street’ and this means that we will need great courage and strength to continue the good work I’ve see happen this week.

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