Barack Obama Might Have Won, but We Have a Lot of Work to Do

I don’t talk about my previous work experience here, focusing mostly on User Experience. But on this election night, I want to remind everyone how important it is to interpret tonight, because they are not doing so fairly on the major media outlets.

I’ll do so by telling my own story.

In 1992, I was editor of a community newspaper in Orange County, California called the Garden Grove Journal. We were one of the legal newspapers you see in any town in America — DBA’s in the back paid the bills, and the owner’s wife of a local market wrote a column with her favorite recipes. Mary Hunt, a best selling author, was one of our first columnists.

The newspaper was involved in politics a bit because one of the publishers likened himself to a king maker. We were probably responsible for helping get one city council member elected. It was still fun, because it was Garden Grove, and I was young and naive of our importance in the world.

Covering the 1992 Election, we wrote several articles talking about the landslide election of President Bill Clinton, how it was change for America. The coverage leaned to left, which comes off as very obvious in Orange County. This is a county that has a libertarian leaning newspaper, the Orange County Register.

About a week later, we were invited to lunch by the chair of the Orange County Republican Party, the late Tom Fuentes. Fuentes and Curt Pringle, a newly elected California Assemblyman, gave us their viewpoint of our coverage that was pointed but fair.

We received a not so subtle reminder of how the results were not a mandate, because that what the facts said: Bill Clinton won with only 43 percent of vote nationwide, and didn’t even receive 40 percent of the vote in Orange County. They also pointed out how important it was to treat both parties fairly, even if you didn’t agree with the political ideology, because there are never any true mandates in political races unless someone receives over 70 percent of the vote.

I was reminded to respect the political beliefs of people even if I didn’t agree with them because change can come from any side of the aisle.

Great leaders in positions large and small can do great things: Clinton went on to be one of our most popular presidents, and Pringle, who was there for that lunch, went on to do great things for California as an Assembly Leader and as a Mayor of Anaheim.

All leaders deserve great respect, regardless of party affiliation, race, gender or sexual orientation.

This election was not a mandate: the margin of victory will probably be only around 300,000 votes, and no amount of Facebook likes to comments will replace that. That means that 49 percent of the country didn’t vote for him.

We are still very divided on how to move America and it shows in the popular vote. This was a lesson in electoral math, which is very much different than popular math (something to ask Al Gore about). We are destroying ourselves with our Red State, Blue State mentality.

We need leaders, not partisan politics, to move America forward. Please remember that.