Dear President-elect McCain or Obama:

The big election is tomorrow, so I don’t know yet which of you will emerge the victor in this seemingly endless campaign for the White House.

While almost everyone will be thankful for a stop to the incessant mud-slinging, character vilification commercials that have clogged the airwaves for many months, there is, frankly, not a lot of confidence that a new president and vice president will make a great deal of difference in extricating this country from the pickle we’re in as a result of the excesses and failures of the past eight years.

People are fed up. They want something done about the mess you’re going to inherit come January, and they want it PDQ.

It’s one thing to promise the moon, sun, and stars on the campaign trail — it’s another to deliver on those promises in the face of the reality of mountainous debt and ever more burdensome interest on that debt; seemingly unending wars that continue to drain human and monetary capital and divide the nation; tarnished prestige in the community of nations; a rapidly deteriorating infrastructure that’s already much behind the curve in terms of critical maintenance, let alone upgrades; a once-powerful industrial base that helped make America the greatest nation on the planet, now on the ropes and about to go down for the count; a laundry list of entitlement programs that, if something constructive isn’t done, threaten to self-destruct from multiplying costs, yet still leave millions without health care; a failure for 35 years to develop and commit to energy programs to lessen the increasingly costly yoke of imported oil; an economy in the toilet and once mighty financial institutions rent asunder as a result of abandonment of even the most basic of government’s regulatory and oversight responsibilities; an agriculture that’s the most productive on earth and has given America unparalleled food security, but is beset at every turn by higher input costs, scarcer credit, and onerous regulations … the list goes on and on.

You’ve got a tough road ahead, Mr. President-elect. However noble and far-reaching your campaign sound bites about a better America through consensus and bipartisan action, the unfortunate reality is: we have increasingly become a divided, partisan nation.

Can that be changed? Whatever happened to the principle on which this great nation was founded, of men of good will coming together to resolve their differences and strive for the common good?

Can you, in this era of segmentation and increasing stridency of viewpoints, find ways to appeal to and enlist the support of the losing candidates and the 40 percent or more of Americans who did not want you to be president?

Let’s hope so. Our country has been through much tribulation. In the past two years of campaigning, we’ve heard a lot of words, a lot of promises. Now it’s time to turn words into action.

And amid the pomp and trappings of the presidency, please don’t forget that millions of your fellow Americans are struggling every day just to try and stay afloat in these perilous times.

e-mail: hbrandon@farmpress.com