Well, the 2018 elections are finally over. We basically have a year until the next election cycle starts in earnest — a year for us to breathe, a year for our leaders to come up with solutions to our problems without the pressure of an impending race.

Let’s hope they take the opportunity.

Regardless of what side of the political spectrum you inhabit, you likely have reason to be both pleased and disappointed with the results of the midterms.

Pleased and disappointed...

Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

If you read my column last week, you know that I’m worried about how divided we’ve become as a country. By handing us a split Congress, the midterms have given us a wonderful opportunity to work together. With a Republican-controlled Senate and a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, the political parties will be forced to compromise if they want Congress to pass any legislation.

I know, I know.

I’m being naive. Chances are high that Congress will get nothing done in the next two years because elected officials risk hurting their chances of re-election if they are perceived to be working with the opposite party. (That’s on us, the voters, by the way.)

But what if Congress decided to go to work? What if our politicians decided to craft legislation that both sides could live with? We have a president who isn’t always bound by strict party ideology. He’s famous for cutting deals. He might sign legislation like that.

And what would happen if we saw our leaders working together to pass laws that — even if we don’t love them — we could at least respect? We might begin to heal the cultural divide. We might start speaking about our fellow citizens with a little more respect. We might even decide to vote for politicians who are known for their across-the-aisle efforts instead of their obstructionism.

I know it’s a long shot, but I’m so tired of the way we’ve been speaking about our fellow citizens. You know the kind of language I’m talking about. You’ve heard it, too: Libtards, repugs, snowflakes, wingnuts, etc.

That kind of talk has to stop because it doesn’t achieve anything productive. It only excites our baser instincts. It only makes us angry and defensive. It never promotes productive conversations that result in solutions.

Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but I’m so tired of all the vitriol. All I want these days is rational people approaching our divisive issues with open minds.

The 2018 election has forced us to work together if we’re going to get anything done. There’s no more choice. If any legislation is going to pass through Congress, it’s going to have to appeal to both major parties.

Let’s hope our leaders in Washington listen to the better angels of their nature and get some work done rather than sitting back and hurling insults at each other.

Let’s help them do it by toning down our rhetoric and treating each other with a little more respect and understanding.

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