Depending on what time you read this, the primary elections are over or pretty darn close. Either the votes are cast and the results counted, or they're in the process. Hail to the victors and congratulations on a good campaign to everyone else. It's been a long season and one way or another, almost everyone is glad to see it end.

Now, the real work begins.

For the Democrats, it's time to start prepping for the general election this fall. For independents, it's time to assess the results and make some strategic decisions - and don't be surprised if a major independent or two tosses their hat in the ring. As for the splintered Republicans, who knows what it's time for?

The rift in the party was mentioned in both council and commissioner debates, sponsored by The Paper and the local radio stations. It wasn't a shock that no one offered any great answers.

Off the record, one candidate told me that healing will be a long and slow process, if it happens at all. Another said it could happen, but finding middle ground is hard. Yet another said the great divide might never be bridged.

Me? What do I know? I'm just a newspaper guy. But I still believe that we live in a country with a political system that has survived because we participate, and continue to participate no matter who wins. Yup, I'll also point out the painfully obvious that the concept has changed - for the worse, in my opinion - the last couple of decades.

This rift could be fixed almost overnight if everyone would agree that being a Republican means being a Republican - regardless of who's in charge. Don't hold your breath waiting on that to happen.

The scary part to me is, where's the line? If I don't like a law that's passed and I feel really strongly about it do I get to ignore it? If I don't like my elected county or state representatives do I get to skip paying my property taxes? Where's the line?

It's tough to separate politics from laws, states and our great nation. They are intertwined pretty tightly and have a long history of being that way. Laws are voted on by politicians who are overwhelmingly members of political parties.

In the case of this particular party, you're either a Republican or you're not. If everyone who doesn't like something in their political party takes a hike, then I guess what they're saying is they are only a member of that party when it agrees with them. That just doesn't seem right, does it?

Look, the thing is some good folks are going to win elections today. Some good folks are going to lose. As a longtime political observer, I can see something that a few of them can't - they simply aren't that far apart on a whole heck of a lot of issues. I can also see something else - there are a lot of good people with good intentions on both sides.

The votes are being counted. Results are being announced. Celebrations are taking place. Disappointments are heartfelt.

Amidst all of this, wouldn't it be nice if whoever loses walks up to their opponent, shakes their hand and vows to work together? Sure, they'll butt heads more than once if they do, but it's really the only way this rift doesn't drag on for a lot longer than it should. And what's wrong with butting heads? Disagreements - handled well -- can result in better answers.

It's the way things have worked in this country for more than two centuries. In politics, someone wins. Someone loses. To the winners go the spoils. The losers don't have to abandon their positions. But they should tone them down, take part in the process and give it another go in a few years. I think it's what's called the American way.