When we open the refrigerator to start the work week today and survey the leftover turkey, dressing and fixings stuffed inside, we might experience a slight sense of nausea.
The exciting scents and sights of Thanksgiving morning have been replaced by a wish to toss the aging turkey and get on with our lives.
The same might be said for the politics that have divided the United States and delayed our leaders in solving the nation's many ills. The race between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney turned into a bitter civil war that pitted brother against brother, sister against sister.
An Associated Press article chronicled the sad fact that some Americans simply skipped family gatherings during Thanksgiving this year so they could avoid conflicts over politics. The story quoted Brian Davidson of Helena, who decided it was better to avoid dinner with his dad in Russellville than to risk a "non-recoverable blowup."
Conflicts at the Thanksgiving table are symptomatic of a larger national problem. How does the country get beyond the divisive election of 2012 and solve its problems?
The challenges are many.
Leaders in Washington must keep the country from plunging off the fiscal cliff, that dangerous combination of widespread tax increases and budget cuts that would devastate many families. With no action, the combination begins Jan. 1.
Leaders must decide what, if anything, to do to continue a fledgling economic recovery. They must address issues related to national security and volatile conflicts in the Middle East. They must implement and watch over a new health-care system that many do not trust. They face these and many other issues under the pressure of a massive federal debt.
Solutions to these problems start with a willingness to throw out the leftovers from Election Day and get on with our lives. They begin with a willingness to sit down at the same table and acknowledge the United States is a family that must give and take, work together for the good of all.
Encouraging signs are emerging from Washington, with reports of the president and leaders of Congress sitting down together for talks. The nation, tired and nauseated by too much campaigning, needs to get on with making this a better place to live.
Family should be more important than politics. So should nation.
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