This year’s election consumed and divided America. While those who supported President Obama can revel in their victory and enjoy the policy fruits of their success, the 47 percent of the American electorate that voted for Gov. Romney must also move forward with the feeling that they too are contributing to improving our nation.
Many, like me, were passionate about Gov. Romney. We were crushed by the result and are moving through various stages of grief, heading toward the final stage: acceptance.
The uniquely American holiday of Thanksgiving is well timed for healing, coming soon after every election. It serves as an opportunity for national reconciliation. Indeed, this Thanksgiving seemed unusual in that so many friends and colleagues on both sides of the political aisle used the occasion to express their appreciation for our friendship. In a Thanksgiving column in the Wall Street Journal, Republican wordsmith Peggy Noonan quoted several friends expressing personal gratitude for her and others. She ended her cheery column by noting that although all were glad the election was over, not one included that sentiment as part of their Thanksgiving gratitude.
Having accepted the election results and started the process of moving on, the issue for many of us is what we can do to improve our nation. A Nebraskan Democrat who canvassed for Romney wrote me and asked my advice for ways to get involved. Her letter says:
“My question is how to harness the momentum that the Romney supporters had but now have no campaign to focus around. I think a key to any further elections and platforms is to engage at the ground level. I think if people can continue to be engaged (and your ability to reflect their deep feelings is a first step), then real solutions and consensus from the ground up can occur. So I am wondering if you know of any movements that people like me can become active in formulating these ground-up movements.”
I appreciate her eagerness to do what is right for her nation. She’s correct in noticing that many former Romney supporters still believe in what they campaigned for but now feel as though they have no outlets for that passion. The good news is that there is still much work to be done, and there are many people who are actively pursuing positive change. Here are the three suggestions I shared with her:
1. Join the No Labels movement. This group advocates for solutions favoring the nation rather than a particular political party, and has proposed specific procedural changes in the Congress and White House to meet that goal. I was involved in the early creation of the movement and remain an active supporter. I believe the movement can be transformed into a new political party. No Labels is not beholden to trial lawyers, unions or Hollywood and does not take divisive stances on social issues.
2. Join the Innovation Movement. The Consumer Electronics Association, the group I head, represents more than 2,000 American technology companies, and believes that growth through innovation is our best hope for creating jobs and expanding our economy. The movement supports strategic immigration, free trade, patent and litigation reform, easier funding for entrepreneurs and lower federal deficits. We do not ask government for money for our industry. Membership is free to any American who believes that innovation should be a national strategy.
3. Get active in your party. Stop extremists in either party from dominating. Most Americans are fiercely patriotic, believe in American exceptionalism and want to give their children a better life. If we can carry these principles to both parties with some fiscal sense, we can force both parties to the middle, and reach compromise.
The truth is that our dire fiscal situation will require sacrifices from all Americans. Rather than allowing interest groups to protect their special tax benefits, government payments or perks, we need those people who will advocate for a better future for the next generation to speak loudly.
Good Americans are not quiet or complacent. They think. They act. They do what’s right for America.
Gary Shapiro is president and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)®, the U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer electronics companies, and a New York Times best-selling author. His latest book, Ninja Innovation: The Ten Killer Strategies of the World’s Most Successful Businesses, will be released in January. Connect with him on Twitter: @GaryShapiro.