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Wednesday, 23 November 2016 13:44

This just in blog: Our election hangover

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Instead of a presidential honeymoon, Americans have been given a campaign hangover.

This election season was historic, more for careening off the rails of how traditional campaigns are run than any significance the candidates might bring to the office.

Trump voters seemed as surprised as Clinton voters that the disruptive New York businessman so decisively claimed the race.

And Wisconsin was the final domino to fall in the early morning hours after the polls closed.

The Scott Walker coalition not only delivered the state for Donald Trump, but returned Sen. Ron Johnson, who had trailed in the polls through the fall, to the Senate, assuring that Republicans would have control of the House and Senate.

Now, the question is can we come together as a country?

Maybe, but we have a long way to go.

Hidden in the ugly campaign was a roadmap for the new president and Congress showing what voters want from their government.

We’re frustrated by the rapidly growing income gap.

We’re worried about the influence of unaccountable money in our electoral process.

More people have health insurance than ever before, but costs continue to rise and we don’t know why.

Terrorism remains a threat.

Although the national economy rebounded from the depths of the Great Recession, a wide swath of the working class saw little change for the better.

That frustration fueled the Trump surge.

Although Trump’s transition team touched on a range of topics this past week, wage growth could solve a lot of problems.

Workers with more money feel more secure. They contribute more in taxes. Rising incomes mean people rely less on government services.

More money in people’s pockets means businesses can grow to accommodate increased demand.

Republicans surely will pitch tax cuts as a way to raise wages, but those cuts initially benefit the wealthy and businesses.

A raise in the minimum wage is unlikely, but tax reform can directly drive wage growth by giving companies incentives to raise wages or by penalizing them if they don’t.

So too with health care.

"It'll be great health care for much less money," Trump told Lesley Stahl on "60 Minutes" last week.

I suspect it won’t be quite that simple or easy.

Republicans, led by House Speaker Paul Ryan of Janesville, finally will be able to reveal their long-alluded to replacement to the Affordable Care Act.

Frustrated voters, on the other hand, won’t have much patience for solutions that are retreads of previous proposals.

There are lots of ways to move forward as a country.

But one way that never came up in the dozens of letters to the editor that we ran in the weeks leading up to the election was that we should do nothing.

It’s commendable that our representatives stick to their principles, but the overarching principle should be to make government work for the people.

Republicans were loath to soften their positions during the almost eight years of President Barack Obama’s term.

They may need to now in the Senate to get Democrats to play along. Republicans will need 60 votes in many cases.

Sometimes that means accepting a compromise and living to fight again in the arena of public opinion. Finding ways to work together means moving away from personality and moving toward policy.

Now that the votes have been counted, our Constitution provides a process by which government can work together to tackle the country’s most serious problems.

We don’t really have much of a choice but to let that process play out.

And maybe we’ll get something done in the two years before the next election season rolls around.

Hopefully we’ll be over our hangover by then.

Dan Plutchak is the editor of CSI Media, publisher of the Janesville Messenger, Stateline News and Walworth County Sunday. Contact him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or on Twitter @danplutchak.

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