Beyond Bush and Kerry, what weighs on me are the broader issues, for both our nation and for the Republican Party in which I was so active for many years.
First, the GOP. Whether Bush serves four more years or not, the Republican Party must get back to its philosophical roots. The party fares best when it stops sipping champagne with global corporate leaders and instead plays true friend to U.S. small businesses. I think it's ill-advised for Washington to try to be the twin engines that sustain both the entire world's safety and its collective economy. Those are my tax dollars and yours that are globetrotting in an often quixotic attempt to curry favor with the whole planet.
And when it comes to putting the fear of God in future despots, can't we remember the Ronald Reagan method? He managed to play international constable by dropping a few well-placed bombs in the middle of the night -- just ask Libya's Muammar Qaddafi -- instead of sending in the troops and tanks. There's no use crying over bad intelligence in Iraq, but I would personally rather work to secure our own borders than to try a 21st-century version of the 1960s communist containment policy.
Republicans used to stand for less government, less spending and less intrusion into our day-to-day lives. We need to return to that, and while doing so, admit that on issues like stem-cell research, the party is simply out of the mainstream. In short, I want my old party back, with a few tweaks along the way.
As for the nation as a whole, we have become a parody of a bad reality TV show. Most of us are deeply cynical and too stubborn to hear what the other side has to say. And no wonder. Those who look for a little diversionary entertainment on TV are too often confronted with either ego-driven news-talk programs on cable, or network programming along the lines of "Wife-Swapping Bon Vivants Meet The Desperate Housewife Makeover Team." Too many of our best-selling books are hooray-for-our-team drivel.
But hope still springs eternal. For proof, look no further than the countless millions (perhaps literally countless, thanks to our vote-counting mechanisms) who participated in this year's electoral process. It means that Americans still care deeply about our democratic republic. And it demonstrates that the "lost" generations of the past -- so wistfully recalled by older Americans -- have found their way back to the center of our most basic traditions, like voting. I'm glad. It means that I can look at my children and believe something better is on the way.