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By the time you read this, the election cycle is over and there is a new president.

Both candidates ran on a platform of change, to fix that which is wrong with this country and hopefully, in turn, the world. They promised to tackle the mistakes of the past and lead us forward through a very uncertain future.

No matter the winner, I hope they keep those promises.

I say this not simply because I hope the world gets better, or that my leaders are successful in their work; I say it, also, because this nation is exhausted, pensive and reflecting. If handled properly, this is the perfect setting for great, lasting change, but, if mishandled, it is also the perfect setting for anger, fear and bitterness.

In this election, I’ve seen more Americans become involved in the political process than ever before in my life. I heard no complaints about carbon-copied candidates, or whether the whole process really mattered at all. It mattered, not just to some, but to everyone.

The past year and a half, I’ve seen America become a nation of practical idealists once again.

We’ve expected more, demanded answers and praised good people who do good things. We’ve become engaged again, though sadly due to the trauma of the events of the past eight years. Two wars, an unspeakably violent terrorist attack, the destruction of a city at the hands of nature, a growing economic crisis and an ever-widening gap between the rich and everyone else…

They’ve been times that have tried all souls.

But America, during this election, has felt the hope of change and believed in its power again. Regardless of political affiliation, the mistakes of the past, such as corporate greed, political apathy and social disconnect, are being recognized and addressed.

Aid to the poor, affordable health care, honorable foreign policy, fiscal responsibility; these are all ideals that are now being demanded of our government, not by partisan politicians, but by we the people, Republican and Democratic, in unison.

Renewed hope has awoken this nation. But it must be handled with care.

No matter what happened on Nov. 4, we cannot let our hope die.

Though I am cautious, I have hope this country will recover.

It will recover not because of who’s in the White House, but because we the people are strong, and no matter how difficult the road ahead might be, we the people will not give up hope because we cannot afford to give up hope.

The stakes are too high to allow ourselves to slide into the pit of apathy, bitterness or fear.

With history as our guide, the human condition moves as a cycle; good times end and are supplanted with harsh ones.

Inevitably, though, the individual or the collective come to terms with difficult circumstances and make the necessary changes in order to begin new, better times.

But those changes are only possible when we have hope that the future will be brighter.

Thus, hope is not contained within the past, present or future. It is eternal, it is inevitable, and, now, it is in our hands.

It is the most sacred thing we share.

Alex voted with his parents, and can be reached at

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