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A mixed review of 2016

The extremes of angst and anger among Americans are reflections of a partisan/social/economic divide that expressed itself in the 2016 presidential election, and could deepen in 2017. Angst and anger either drove Americans to the polls in November or kept them away.

If that assessment seems bleak, take heart. It's not. Extremists always appropriate the debate. Extremists always demonize opponents by characterizing them as enemies. Extremists on the left and right always try to pervert the American dream by intimating that Americans not of their liking are un-American. It works for a time.

Eventually, however, the greater wisdom of the majority of Americans reasserts itself, and the national ship that has been tipped either too left or too right stabilizes and regains a course of moderation, pragmatism and real patriotism; not the bumper-sticker kind, not the glib sloganeering kind.

Some Americans are in a deep funk because their candidate lost the presidential election. Some are even in counseling for a post-election version of self-defined depression, for pity's sake. It's laughable.

On the other side of that tarnished coin, the minority of Americans who voted for the Electoral College winner are celebrating with peculiar ugliness that undermines the legitimacy of the win. They are less than gracious in victory.

As 2016 slides into the history books, the view into 2017 is anything but clear. The political landscape has experienced an earthquake of historic proportions. Many in the country are stumbling about waiting for aftershocks. Many others expect radical and rapid change. As all politicians find out, promising magical change is easy; delivering substantive change is not.

No matter how raucous the debate, how bitter the losing pill, how exhilarating the winning elixir, Americans should now put all that aside and focus on the welfare of the nation. The country faces challenges at home and around the world that require formidable strength, unity of purpose and a restored global voice for freedom and justice. If that enduring promise was muddled in 2016's political miasma, 2017 at least offers hope for renewed clarity.

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