Well, we’ve survived another Election Day. I am happy to report that, unlike two years ago, there were no signs of panic or major meltdowns in my social media. Not to say that everyone was happy, but no one appeared to be in despair, either.

The election results were like a good compromise – no one got everything they wanted. The Democrats will now control the House of Representatives, while Republicans hung on to the Senate. Some governorships changes hands. All kinds of initiatives were voted on and either shot down in flames or passed.

That last reminds me – most of the amendments to the Florida Constitution passed, to the dismay of some of my friends. I’ve tried to remember how I voted on said amendments, but I don’t recall most of them. It was hard to figure out what some of them actually said, so I might have made some mistakes. And here in Florida, the powers that be thought it would be a good idea to bundle some of the proposals into one amendment, even if they had nothing to do with each other. This way lies madness.

I am pleased that voter participation was up this year. Members of both parties pounded into us that this was an important election, some calling it the most important election of our lives. I’m glad that more people voted than usual this year, but next time let’s not wait for a perceived crisis to get out to the polls, OK?

Because this is the United States, you know that something weird had to happen somewhere regarding the election, right? Well, weird happened in Nevada, where Dennis Hof, a brothel owner who described himself as a pimp, won a seat in Nevada’s 36th Assembly District. Hof, who ran as a Republican, beat his Democratic challenger by more than 7,000 votes.

(As an aside to the Nevada Republican party: Really? This guy was the best you could do?)

Anyway, there’s a teeny-tiny problem with Hof taking office: he is dead. Hof was found dead at one of his ranches a month ago. The cause of death is still under investigation, but apparently it was too late to take his name off the ballot. Now, in keeping with state law, county officials will appoint a Republican who lives in Hof’s district to take his seat.

I hope that the Nevada voters realized that someone alive would be appointed to the office if Hof actually won. Even so, you have to admit the whole thing is strange. Are zombies eligible to run for office?

With all that, let me finish up by hopping onto a soapbox. It is tempting to continue with an “us versus them” mentality. Some have felt those who disagree with them must be battled, not tolerated. That if you don’t support their views or candidate, you can’t be a part of their lives.

May I offer a perspective? An echo chamber is not a healthy place to live. If you only surround yourself with those who agree with you, you simply will never grow intellectually. I hate to break it to you, but you and your friends aren’t right about everything. You need another perspective to test your beliefs and see if they hold water.

Besides, if you never cultivate a relationship with someone who doesn’t agree with you, you have no chance to change their mind. We need to have courteous, healthy debate on the issues in this country. It’s how we’ll determine what is best.

So don’t cut off those who disagree with you. Be kind to them. Listen to them. Who knows, they may have something to offer you haven’t considered. At worst, you might gain a friend.

Laura Ware is a Sebring resident. She can be contacted by email at laura@laurahware.com . Visit her website at www.laurahware.com. Guest columns are the opinion of the writer, not necessarily that of the Highlands News-Sun staff.

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