The presidential campaign ended early Wednesday with a pair of speeches — a concession by Mitt Romney and victory celebration by President Obama. In some respects, they sounded remarkably alike.
“The nation, as you know, is at a critical point,” Romney said in Boston. “At a time like this we can’t risk partisan bickering and political posturing. Our leaders have to reach across the aisle to do the people’s work, and we citizens also have to rise to occasion. We look to our teachers and professors. We count on you not just to teach, but to inspire our children with a passion for learning and discovery. We look to our pastors and priests and rabbis and counselors of all kinds to testify of the enduring principles upon which our society is built: Honesty, charity, integrity, and family. We look to our parents. From the final analysis, everything depends on the success of our homes. We look to job-creators of all kinds. We’re counting on you to invest, to hire, to step forward, and we look to Democrats and Republicans in government at all levels to put the people before the politics.”
In Chicago, Obama spoke on a similar theme.
“What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on earth.” Obama said. “The belief that our destiny is shared; that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That’s what makes America great.”
Obama and Romney spent a year attacking one another, lying, exaggerating, ducking tough questions and looking for every possible advantage Nov. 6. Desperate to lead a divided nation, their campaigns divided us further.
Both candidates knew what the nation needed to overcome its differences, to rebuild its economy and end the stalemate in Washington — we needed to be reminded of our common interests. We needed be reminded that the things that make us strong don’t just emerge when we’re attacked by terrorists or hit by monster hurricanes; those strengths — patience, goodwill, courage, generosity — define us as a nation.
They said as much Wednesday morning. They should’ve said it all along.
Because if they had, we’d be closer today to honestly addressing the challenges we face.