When dawn broke across Lubec this morning – the easternmost point in the United States – this country had likely elected either its first African-American president or its first U.S. senator as president since 1960.

Or possibly both.

It’s a brand new day in America, regardless, the closing of a tumultuous era. This nation has been at war with others and been at war with itself. Never before, though, has America waged such wars at the same time.

This country has jumped the tracks – socially, economically, politically. It’s lost respect of its elders and peers, and done wondrous things to erode confidence in its institutions. Our culture is splintered in red and blue factions.

Our new president must steward the rebuilding of these pillars. More Americans than ever were engaged in his election, which means their mandate is perhaps heaviest in recent memory.

For too long, American people have tolerated illusions of progress. The economy thundered under the illusion of growing prosperity, when all that existed were attractive interest rates, inflated values and leveraged assets.

The president-elect must restore confidence – not just liquidity – in our economy.

Illusions of progress concealed dire situations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Claims of nation-building and victory – progress! – were overstated by the president and Congress. What has been achieved are fragile stalemates, at best.

The next president must reduce the obligations on our strained U.S. military, once in office.

In government, illusion of progress has been pancake makeup obscuring the failure to address major policy issues. Health care, Social Security, immigration, energy progress was often claimed, but reality has begged to differ.

The president-elect must confront these difficult issues with deftness and courage.

Electing a new president is not illusion of progress. It signals concrete change in approach, ideology, experience and decision-making. The president-elect represents a significant shift from American politics of the past eight years, regardless of their name or party affiliation.

With such progress comes hope, optimism and faith – the person chosen for the nation’s most prestigious office has the future of the United States in his fingers, whether one personally agrees with his selection or not.

This country is different today. It is seeing the future in a different light. (Given the unpopularity of the current president and Congress today, this fresh viewpoint is undoubtedly more positive.)

But it will take more than political antidepressants to lift this fractured nation. Promises of the campaign stump have lost their impact. It’s time for the victor to act convincingly, rather than be convincing.

For the president-elect, the journey is far from over.

For a country suffering from illusions of progress, it’s only begun.

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