Presidential election results still being counted November 6 didn’t deter the media from speculating about the “great divide” in our country. In retrospect, I wish Hostess had announced its decision to close down the Twinkie production line sooner. But my diehard faith in the process that brings us together every four years to choose national leadership kept me centered on the truth: what appears as division is masquerading as wholeness.

Having watched at least half the 14,000 televised campaign ads that ran here in swing state Ohio between October 1 and November 6 (no exaggeration, I promise), I feel comfortable in saying that both candidates cared about the economy, education and stewardship of our country’s resources. I trust that most of us do. Political campaigns are designed to differentiate, help us as voters choose who best serves our understanding of what we want for the country. I don’t begrudge the process and watched three of the four debates. Democracy takes time, attention, ownership and involvement. It is a luxury many countries are not afforded. The United States can certainly improve on its skill set in this regard, but we have pulled off peaceful transfer of power between administrations every time over our 236 year history. We are doing something right and we deserve to honor that about ourselves.

I will admit that somewhere in the middle of those 14,000 campaign ads (again, a real statistic), I felt a bit as if I were in the center of a modern civil war. It was not uncommon for four ads to run back-to-back, usually two for each candidate, multiple times throughout the day. Sound bites do not a thoughtful discussion make. But we survived the Civil War and we survived this election. In fact, I believe we will thrive as a nation because of it. We can choose to pick up the media mantra of divisiveness. All that takes is repeating what you hear on television or read on the Internet as if it is true. Easy as can be, right? Or we can choose to focus on what we value individually, recognizing that many of us want to forward those values collectively, serving the whole country.

Please note, right here, right now, that even thinking this way isn’t possible is not an option. Lamenting the vast inadequacy of all “those people” out there who aren’t capable of making good decisions for themselves, let alone the rest of us, isn’t an option either. If you are dead set on this perspective, head on back to your television and start taking notes from the folks doing your thinking for you. It will save us all some time and energy. And, by the way, we will still include you in the conversation if you are ready to listen and contribute.

Before the Civil War our ancestors referred to the “United States are.” Our reference point now is to the “United States is.” That shift did not come overnight or without great cost. The conversations that I believe must occur, the ensuing actions we must take to make our portion more than a pothole in our nation’s history, must also be inclusive by nature. The campaign is over. But the United States still is, and we each still are. Our question today is simple: What will serve our country? What will serve our world?

My friend, Doug, and I have had many conversations over the past twenty years, often politically-centered. We come from, as they say, “opposite sides of the aisle.” Our most important tool in these exchanges has been mutual recognition that common ground is only one step toward each other. Because we have been willing to place more value on our friendship, our common ground, than on being right, we have learned to ask questions, and we have learned to pay attention to how we listen to one another.

What the media labels as a “great divide” is what I call the common ground of citizenship. When I voted at around ten o’clock that November morning here in Ohio, I remembered Alice Paul, one brave woman among many who fought for my right to vote in this election. August 24, 1920, the day women’s suffrage became law in this country, is not very long ago. Where would I have been without her on November 6, 2012? Where will we be in eighty-two years? We can let other people choose for us. We can choose to include ourselves in the conversations that design our future. We can choose to include each other on the common ground of our citizenship. We are the United States of America. This is our home, we do have to live with each other and we are in this together.

Author's Bio: 

Cory L. Kemp, a native of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, brings a background in communications, women’s studies and pastoral ministry to her work as a communication coach. Putting into practice the journaling skills she created and teaches, Cory founded Communication Leadership, helping healers, coaches, designers and teachers collect their thoughts, organize and savor their everyday lives. Cory’s unique skill-based Conversation: Journaling program gives you practical tools and simple structures applicable for many aspects of your personal and professional life. Over thirty-five years of journaling experience gives Cory an informed perspective on life challenges and how to transform them into triumphs. Connect with Cory at