The evening of Nov. 3, a period of debate and discontent closed along with the polls. County- and country-wide, a record number of people engaged in democracy by filling out a ballot.

A week later, as the fog clears from relentless messaging from candidates, committees and competing interests, we find ourselves a nation divided. In some ways, we have become more polarized than ever.

Big-city attack ad tactics arrived in valley P.O. boxes last month, which didn’t seem to help the candidates endorsed or hurt those derided.

While some contention remains about the presidency, it’s clear we need to turn our hearts and minds to pulling together instead of pulling apart.

If our politics have gone down a road where we’ve unfriended someone who has different opinions, that serves only to keep us isolated and disconnected. By doing so we lock ourselves in echo chambers of our own design, further divided from different ideas. During this chaotic pandemic and election year many have been sad, anxious, angry, scared.

No single politician can lift us out of this bedlam; we all have to pitch in and do the heavy lifting of civility, coming from the roots of kindness and love. We have to separate politics from the person, ideology from our shared humanity.

We have all chosen to live and play in this isolated, breathtaking mountain valley; we have more in common with our neighbors than most realize.

Who among us has not gazed in wonder at the majesty of the Tetons, sharp peaks peeking through the clouds? Who doesn’t feel joy at the sight of a moose or a bald eagle, fellow denizens of the valley? We all enjoy the bird’s-eye perspective of town and the bracing mountain air on a walk up Snow King, the pole tap shared with a friend after a run of fresh powder, the first look out the window at a world coated white after a storm.

At some point we have to say “enough is enough” arguing about politics, and we have to stop painting each other in broad strokes because we think “they” are so different from “us.”

We’re all patriots who care about each other, our democracy and the future.

We all want health, safety and prosperity for ourselves, our families and our neighbors.

We can’t deny the two-party system and the fact that politics shape policy. We must commit to offer our local elected officials productive, nonpartisan feedback to help them lead with common-sense decisions for our community in the years ahead.

As we walk away from the election, we can choose to make a concerted effort to focus on our individual interactions and find what unites us, and not what divides us.

By the News&Guide’s editorial board: Johanna Love, Rebecca Huntington, Kevin Olson and Adam Meyer.

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