With the election of Barack Obama last Tuesday, many celebrated in streets in Ann Arbor and across the country. This was for them the crowning achievement of a movement years in the making. However, there are tens of millions of Americans disappointed in the current political change. These were impassioned people, and America needs to work now to mend the divides that became more and more apparent toward the end of the election.

Personally, I like John McCain the senator; for a long time, he was a feisty, but in general, capable legislator with no clearly partisan agenda. As he started aligning himself with George W. Bush in his defense of the war in Iraq, I was extremely disappointed. But that didn’t take away from the fact that the man is worth respecting. In victory, Obama’s supporters should recognize this and realize there is more to respect about McCain than there is to loathe. It’s time to put the election’s dirt behind us.

When Democrats talk of “running up the score” there is an underlying sense of vindication, of righteousness that in some ways is a bit disheartening. Especially in the U.S. Senate races, it’s not the radical right that’s being kicked out, but the more moderate conservatives from more moderate states. Intense polarization will occur if the Democrats attempt unilateral actions without bothering to appeal to the conservative legislators in Congress. This isn’t the change we need, and President Obama will need to address keeping bipartisanship with the finesse he had convincing the Hillary Clinton Democrats to support his nomination.

On the other side of the spectrum, many feel bitterness about Obama’s election. There is talk of continual filibustering from angry bloggers and calls for the Republicans who remain, those deeply entrenched in red districts and states, to act as radicals and obstructionists to every Democratic policy. This serves no one’s interests and only makes solving our country’s problems all the more difficult. Any fix generally is better than none, and if Republicans try to clog the system and then run out the clock until the next election, they are doing a disservice to everyone.

Facebook groups and chain e-mails have laughingly already popped up claiming there should be impeachment hearings for Obama once he is sworn into office, because he can’t seriously think he’s capable of being a leader. This kind of disdain isn’t what we need if change is going to take place.

Even families have been split by how they voted, and in some corners of the country the subconscious prejudices and fears of communities have bubbled over. This election showed the fear of even entertaining the thought of a non-Christian president. It is shameful that neither party addressed this issue with any force or conviction.

Talk of conservatives saying they wanted to go to Europe or Canada to escape the inevitable doom that is an Obama presidency is amusing, but really, there were many liberals saying this in 2004. This is not something new. The divisions from the Bush era are still very present. Liberals and moderates may have won this victory, but the right hasn’t gone away — measures like Proposition 8 in California, a ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage, confirms that.

In the coming months, the United States will change hands to a new leader elected in a grassroots movement for change in this country. The deep-seated hatreds, however, that exist between both sides need to be cast aside, though it will take time. This starts with the two parties learning to work together after this change of power, but it also begins with citizens on both sides agreeing to fix this country. Everyone needs to realize that race and religion are not the measures of a leader.

Ben Caleca is an engineering junior.

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