Election Day was the darkest day for me since John F. Kennedy was elected president. (I was only 4 at the time and didn’t realize that I was Roman Catholic). I couldn’t believe how the Republicans were trounced, after I had invested a year listening to right wing radio.

I know I’ve written like a liberal Democrat at times but that was only during brief periods when I could find a left wing radio station. The rest of the year was spent learning about the evils of liberalism, until I was completely brainwashed.

My radio buddies assured me that the Dems would gain only a few seats in the House and none in the Senate. So, imagine my disappointment when I watched the shocking returns on Fox News. My heart also bled for that fair and balanced broadcast team. They weren’t actually eating crow but they were speaking it.

I had expected a Republican majority for the rest of my lifetime, so I suddenly felt like a stranger in a strange land. Where was the one-party rule we had grown to love? Where were the bare-knuckled politics that divided the country into red and blue?

One saving grace for me was that I live in Illinois. Here we take one-party rule to the maximum. There used to be a war between downstate Republicans and upstate Democrats but now the Dems control all the state offices. This party unity has ushered in a new era in ethics in Chicago and Springfield, with many of our politicians continuing to perform community service long after they’ve left office.

Still, I missed the partisan politics that had ripped the country apart for six years. Then I remembered I lived in Forest Park. If anyone in this country can keep a political war going, we can. We won’t always have the same two checks against the same three balances but it’s worked so far.

Forest Park politics were one consolation; another would be listening to my radio friends. I was hoping they’d be gracious losers, because even the president admitted his party had been thumped. Instead, I heard the same old attacks.

That’s when it hit me: they had lied to me. They had given me a false picture of American politics. We aren’t a nation of liberals v. conservatives, Democrat v. Republican–we are Americans. And, when America is drifting in the wrong direction, we can come together at the ballot box to correct the course.

One by one, my radio friends signed off, without any of them changing the positions they had been yammering about for a year. Then I switched to sports radio.

It’s too soon to say that we’re entering a new age of political cooperation. But I think it would benefit Forest Park if a proverbial “balance” occasionally sided with a “check” and vice versa. Common sense leadership in place of partisanship–isn’t that what we demanded on Election Day?

John Rice

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.