Video: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney exhibit model behavior after hard-fought race for president
President Obama and Mitt Romney ended their respective campaigns this week with humility and class.
I hope we can expect the same model behavior from the victors in Washington's elections. Mail-in ballots are still being counted. As of Thursday morning, some of the major races remain too close to call.
As we await those final returns, I see an opportunity to talk about a path forward after this expensive, contentious — and at times, nasty — political season.
Let's focus on the candidates at the top of the ticket. Obama and Romney offered vastly different ideas on how to lead this country. In the course of comparing and contrasting their plans, the electorate grew bitterly divided. Fear-mongering was widespread, especially in the awful ads funded by outside interest groups. Some rhetoric seemed to border on hate. We even heard people accusing one another of being un-American.
In the end, we all have to live with the consequences of this political unrest. That's why I believe the words of Romney and Obama on Tuesday night are so important. Neither Republicans nor Democrats received a clear mandate to take over this country. Reconciliation is necessary, and we heard shades of this sentiment in their election night remarks.
For example, Romney delivered the following message to his supporters during his concession speech:
"I so wish that I had been able to fulfill your hopes to lead the country in a different direction, but the nation chose another leader. So Ann and I join with you to earnestly pray for (President Obama) and for this great nation."
The former Massachusetts governor put up a strong face, but he looked tired and weary. My heart ached for him during what must have been a moment of excruciating disappointment. Though he was emotionally at his lowest, Romney rose up to comfort others. He used the occasion to strike a much-needed conciliatory note with the incumbent president— and the 50 percent of the electorate who are keeping him in the White House.
As for President Obama, there was no gloating or waving fingers at conservatives or Republicans. He took his victory in stride, and reminded the nation why his message of hope continues to resonate with a country suffering from a slow economic recovery.
The 44th president also put in words a way for all of us to understand the importance of moving forward from this bruising campaign:
"(W)e are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people...
We may have battled fiercely, but it’s only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future...
In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.".
It would be so great if President Obama actually followed through on that promise to reach out to a political foe. And I want Romney to draw on his own experiences as Massachusetts' governor to show us how Republicans and Democrats can find common ground.
Watch their speeches again. Let's hope their rhetoric lasts well past election day. I'd love to see more shining examples of leadership trickle down from the White House to Washington.
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
Postman On Politics