11/08/2006 12:03 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

90 Lashes

We did it! The Democrats have taken back the House of Representatives. We stepped up -- we voted; we used our voices in the prescribed democratic way to avow our choices for the direction of our country's future, and hopefully, to regain our respected place at the table of the world-at-large. Though we're supposed to keep religion out of politics, I can't help but say "Thank God."

We needed to change direction - to put some semblance of balance back into the equation. Nancy Pelosi will be Speaker of the House - the highest elected post ever held by a woman in the U.S. She will need to work hard to be more centrist - to find ways to work with all sides, in order to clean things up. We can't follow the same path as the predecessors. The bullying, my way or the highway politics of the past few years have wrought calamity of gigantic proportions. We've been betrayed as tax payers - tricked into believing the tax cuts were helping us. But our new tax bill is enormous. There are so many bills to pay. Our soldiers have been used as pawns. If we must send our brave men and women to war - then we cannot do so without arming them with the best we can give; with true leadership, and enough artillery, information, supplies, and back-up support to help them do their job, because doing their job is a life and death activity.

The people who are paying for the naiveté and narrow, one-sided vision of the current administration, are the soldiers and families here in the United States; the soldiers and families of our few allies; and, of course, in heart wrenchingly tragic and escalating numbers, the Iraqi citizens themselves. Our newly elected public servants will need to work very hard. They'll need to gather some intelligent, balanced thinkers to sit down at a table to design the true vision for our immediate future, and for extricating ourselves from Iraq. As Thomas Friedman stated in his New York Times piece this morning, any chance for a good outcome in Iraq has evaporated. All we can hope for now is a tolerable one.

Still, I am hopeful that we can change course. We need to get back to the place where we were true leaders in the world; where we stood for honest values, and not just the hypocritical lip-service values of a religious right or left. None of us is perfect - we all make mistakes. But we should buck-up and admit them, and be brave enough, and intelligent enough to work together to try to resolve the problems. Only then can we begin to help forge new world views - a new world order. Perhaps then, as a respected partner, we can initiate new ideas that will inspire changes in the most ancient of beliefs, and help a people, and a culture re-examine the rules that still hold sway in fundamentalist societies - as in the 90 lashes sentence that was recently meted out to a Saudi rape victim because she was apparently with a man who was not her husband. Go figure.

Our voice - our collective American voice - includes men, women, and children. We have the potential to be a positive example to the rest of the world of what freedom means - what loyalty, true honor, leadership and equality means. Extremism and radical fanaticism is dangerous no matter which country it emanates from.

I'm proud to be an American - with all our foibles and problems. With our new Speaker of the House, I hope we send the strong message that Women should be a visible, equal and vocal part of the dialog. I hope we can eventually help change the thinking of any society that would sentence a young rape victim to 90 lashes.