After this eventful and emotional midterm, it is important to take a step back and understand what the results of this election mean. They do not simply show us who our new legislators are and who will be representing us in both national and state level government offices. They paint a more complicated picture.

Our country is extremely divided. The margins by which candidates in both parties won their elections are extremely close. Winning an election by sometimes tenths of a percentage means a candidate barely won the support of their district. Legislators on both sides of the aisle need to recognize that and make sure they are properly representing their citizens.

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Because legislators are now representing such divided constituencies, it is in their best interest to work with those people with whom they do not necessarily agree. Bipartisanship is a lost art form. Though it is true that bipartisanship does occur more often than the media cares to show, more can still be done to improve bipartisanship. More teamwork needs to happen on the issues that divide us the most.

This advice does not just apply to legislators. It’s amazing how much there is to learn about a person by simply listening to what they believe and more importantly, why they believe it. As a human being, we are each blessed with only one life and therefore only one perspective. It is crucial to listen to people that live different lives, to learn how their perspective is different and to understand why they believe what they believe. Understanding how a person’s circumstances influence the way they view the world and different policies is so eye-opening, and it gives more of a well-rounded mind.

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Talk to friends. Discuss beliefs calmly and respectfully. Ask them questions. Make it a conversation — not an argument. Even if no one’s mind is changed, the discussion is still worth having. Having these conversations will make us more educated and more respectful people. It’s surprising how much can be learned just by having them.

These midterm elections have taught us the value of a single vote. It is a common misconception that a single person’s vote does not matter. Though it may seem like a single vote gets drowned in a sea of millions of votes cast on election day, Tuesday night we saw the power of every single vote that was cast. At certain points during election night, the margin of votes between Walker and Evers was in the hundreds. During polarized times such as these, every vote counts.

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To Gov. Scott Walker, Republicans say thank you. Thank you for all you have done for our state in the last eight years as governor of Wisconsin. Through freezing tuition at the University of Wisconsin, you have eased the burden on college students and families across the state by making their education more affordable. By lowering taxes, you have allowed Wisconsinites to keep more of their hard earned money and re-infuse it back into our economy. You have brought industry and thousands of jobs back to Wisconsin by working with business owners both here and abroad. You have brought our unemployment to historic lows, you’ve not only balanced the state budget, but you also managed to create a $579 million surplus, with which you reinvested in Wisconsin families through the sales tax holiday and the child tax credit. The list goes on and on. Thank you for all you have done to ensure a prosperous future for our state.

We wholeheartedly wish Tony Evers the best of luck as governor. To not wish him well would be to not wish Wisconsin well. To want Evers to fail would be to want Wisconsin to fail. We oftentimes forget that in politics we all want the same thing, we all just have different ways of getting there. I urge legislators and citizens alike to focus on those goals we have in common, to try hard to find common ground and to listen to each other. That is how things will get done — that is how Wisconsin will thrive.

Sara Sedgwick ([email protected].) is a junior studying political science. She is also the Deputy Communications Director for College Republicans.