As important and essential as any presidential campaign is in our democracy, it leaves behind all sorts of debris – not just post-convention confetti and balloons –  to deal with; its after-mess. No matter who wins, the next administration’s first order of business needs to be about clearing the smoke, straightening the mirrors and neutralizing or composting the “meadow dressing” left along the campaign trail.

     The wonder of our system is that even though we, predictably, are so closely divided in our choices, we accept and live with the result, trusting in the system’s checks and balances.  The Majority, however slight, has spoken, and “the next four years” will begin to make their own history. Meanwhile, the last four years are there to teach us.

     The major lesson to learn this time around has to be about bipartisanship – which has been non-existent in the recent past and certainly throughout the campaign. Most everyone agrees that partisan politics has its place and is essential for healthy government. But most also agree that “Washington is broken” – has been for far too long, with no mending in sight. A country divided seems even more so, moving into the next four years.

     I would like to think that in times of crisis our elected officials can come together –  as they did immediately after 9/11 – to deal head on with what is happening; that is, to do so together, despite party differences, to work to do what is best for everyone. That has not happened with the current recession. Partisan blind-spots, finger-pointing and inabilities to admit gross mistakes in financial policy-making destroyed any hope of Congress addressing the economy’s woes as America’s problem.

     True, there have been world-wide repercussions to the collapse of our economy that still continue. Other countries need to solve their own problems, just as we do. By now, we have to know the fixing of what ails us cannot be done by one party alone. Partisan politics has not done it and never will. Our country needs more than “a plan” or a promise to set things right. It needs across-the-aisle cooperation and effective bipartisan communication. The America people need a strong dose of responsibility-taking and credibility from the powers-that-be in Washington if they are to make the necessary sacrifices to help restore fiscal stability.

     As the president has said more than once, there is more than enough blame to go around. Now is the time to finally clean up the mess … together.