The election is over. Does it matter who lost and who won? Of course. But what lost and what won in far more important.
The important winning and losing has been underway for several decades in election after election, reaching an extreme never before experienced during the past year and a half as the process of selecting presidential candidates took place. Two seriously flawed candidates emerged and subjected us to the most strident, contemptuous, vulgar, election campaign in recent history.
In the process, veracity lost and prevarication won. Humility lost and arrogance won. Respect lost and bigotry won. Moderation lost and hyperbole won. Refinement lost and vulgarity won. Transparency lost and concealment won. Civil discourse lost and demagogy won. Integrity lost and duplicity won. Disclosure lost and concealment won. Neither candidate or party emerged with clean hands, but degree did matter. One candidate clearly had more of the winning qualities than the other, thus, perversely achieving victory.
The next four years are very likely going to leave an increasing number of us asking "what have we done?" The answer, perhaps, lies in two words, "sociopath" and "leader." If we peruse leading lexicons, for the meaning of sociopath and combine what is found we end up with:
Sociopath (sociopathic)---A mental disorder short of insanity manifested by defect of character or personality. Eccentricity. Emotional instability. Inadequacy or perversity of conduct. Undue conceit and suspiciousness. Lack of empathy, common sense, social feeling, self control, or truthfulness. Different sociopaths have different combinations of these traits.
Those same lexicons provide such varied definitions of "lead" or Leader" as to make it meaningless for our purpose. One thing is clear. Leading has intrinsic moral or ethical content. Any individual, entity, or nation can be led to dignity or degradation; to liberty or tyranny: to beneficence or brutality. The best definition in the context of liberty, equity and democracy is:
Leader---One who goes before and shows the way, with foresight, integrity, morality, and wisdom.
There is some good in the worst of us, and some bad in the best. Unless we are truly sociopathic, we must choose hour by hour and day be day whether virtue or vice will guide our words and acts. It is to be hoped that we never have a sociopathic leader of this nation, and that anyone who rises to that position will be guided by their better angels. But we must not rely on it, for there has been far more tyranny than beneficence throughout history, and what has been lost and what won during the election is not reassuring.
I do not hold with those who exclaim, "My country right or wrong, for I am a patriot". The true patriot says, "My country, supported when it is right, opposed when it is wrong, and stimulated when it is indifferent." We must oppose lies, arrogance, bigotry, concealment, vulgarity, avarice, demagogy, and duplicity wherever and whenever they arise, and in whatever guise.
If we wish to regain what has been lost it will be necessary to replace the electoral college with a more equitable, effective election process. It will be necessary to eliminate the stranglehold of the "winner take all" two party system. It will be necessary to develop new methods of selecting candidates that allow people of integrity and wisdom more effective paths to consideration. It will be necessary to impose serious constraints on the length and cost of political campaigns. And it will be necessary to enforce immediate, complete disclosure of the source and amount of all money and other considerations to, or on behalf of, parties and candidates. If it takes a constitutional convention, lets get on with it.
Meanwhile, it is within the power of every citizen or resident to "to go before and show the way with foresight, integrity, morality and wisdom," hour by hour, word by word and act by act, for one never knows who they may be influencing, just as it is within their power to refuse to follow any leader who chooses the darker path.