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How to talk about the election if your candidate loses (or wins)

The media started talking about "red" and "blue" states and the political division among Americans several elections ago.

The media started talking about "red" and "blue" states and the political division among Americans several elections ago.

The National Constitution Center checked election returns and declared the 2012 election one of the closest in 76 years. But this election could be more divisive than Bush vs. Gore

So no matter who wins, you can bet a good percentage of the population won't be happy about the outcome. You can also assume you'll run into someone who is either annoying you with their gloating because your candidate lost or they're annoyed by your gloating because your guy won.

Civil dialogue about politics is possible. Seriously. Logan Harper at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill School of Government offers a few interesting tips (I'm going to paraphrase):

1. Think about what you actually hope to accomplish before you open your yapper. If you really think you can change someone's mind, go for it.  Otherwise, commit to either gathering information about their views or calling it quits altogether.

2. Don't let the conversation devolve into name calling. I've heard Republicans call President Obama's supporters "socialists". I've heard Democrats call Mitt Romney supporters "idiots". Don't go there. It's not worth it. Change the subject.

3. Go big picture. Think about how this conversation about politics could impact a family relationship or a friendship or a work relationship.

4. Challenge yourself to listen as much as you talk.

5. Look for role models of civility. Good coaches tend to be gracious in both their victories and their losses.

Speaking of role models of civility, President Abraham Lincoln hoped to heal a fractured nation after the Civil War. He wanted us to remember that, in the end, we're all Americans.  These were the closing words of his Second Inaugural Address on March 4, 1865:

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan -- to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations."

Here's hoping you find a just and lasting peace no matter who wins Tuesday night.