With just one day left in the 2016 election cycle, everything is doom and gloom. Americans are an optimistic people generally, but you wouldn't know it from the last few months. In fact, over 50% of Americans say that this election cycle is causing them significant anxiety.
Government, in general, has been a cause of anxiety and frustration for Americans for several years. Dysfunction, hyper-partisanship and what appears to be a total lack of understanding about the lives of real American families are the obvious qualities of American government lately.
But enough has to be enough. The public should not tolerate four more years of gridlock, no matter who wins on November 8. So what should the next White House administration and the 115th Congress do to rebuild its standing in the eyes of the American people?
First, the next president should create a cabinet with a diversity of political views to represent both the left, right and middle. Americans need to see that we can all be, and all are, on the same team. There may be disagreements on policy but there is room to unify around some common visions for the country. The next president must also show respect for the vanquished in the way in which they deal with the Congress.
Congress itself has the real work to rebuild functional government. Both parties have elements within their elected officials who want to divide and oppose everything. It is time for a coalition of the sensible in Congress. Democrats, by-in-large, want to move legislative initiatives forward, but credible steps must be taken by Democrats to show that they can work with the other side, and that includes offering reasonable compromises and cutting deals on hard issues. Centrist Republicans, in particular, need to flex their muscles, show that the Republican Party can be a responsible partner in successful governing or they may not rebound from the disaster wrought by the Trump candidacy. Congress in general must prove that they can deliver on the things people care about.
The greatest responsibility actually lies with the public. If Congress and the president are willing to try to pass tax reform, infrastructure revitalization and other broadly agreed upon but large initiatives, we must give them our support. If they do not act together, the people must demand that the White House and the Congress get to work, and work together.
Now is not the time to re-litigate the battles over guns, or abortion or other culture wars. Now is not the time for endless hearings on email servers and campaign practices. Now is the time to make the tax code better, to rebuild our infrastructure and to face, head on and with enthusiasm, the reality that many Americans have been left behind by the economic forces of globalization and they need help getting back in the game.
We must play to the great strengths of democracy, and that means delivering tangible results, not the great weaknesses of democracy, which is just saying, "no." We can't afford to let government fail now. The world has watched this election with some degree of horror and a lot of concern. Both for our citizens and our role as a global leader we must have a government that proves it can work.