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The election is over and so is the endless bombardment of mailings, telephone calls and media commercials.

The Republicans are in a state of shock. How could a candidate that promised fiscal sanity and talk with Democrats lose to the status quo?

Good question, and one historians will examine for years.

A couple of good guesses — George Will's "The Gimme Society" and Chicago's "Take No Prisoners" philosophy.

To the victor belong the spoils, so says the president.

Unfortunately, four more years of the status quo and our country will be a has-been. The pie is getting smaller so there's less for all. Guess who suffers most — not the leisure class.

We're $16 trillion in the hole and going deeper every day. That's more than $50,000 for every man, woman and child in the U.S.

Most economists agree the status quo is not sustainable.

Our credit status is dropping, and only low interest rates make our debt service possible.

China, a major trading partner, holds much of this paper. Default would be a disaster and a possible cause of World War III.

Those of us who fought in Korea know how tough the Chinese army is. There are a lot more of them than us.

We're already paying with a tax called inflation that no one can escape. The market basket of goods and services used to determine the consumer price index is flat only because a major component, housing, has fallen.

Every time you go to the grocery store, you discover that things cost more or you get less of them.

When the housing market recovers, expect the Jimmy Carter years all over again. That's not good for old-timers who saved for retirement.

We're in trouble with the radical Muslim world known as the al-Qaeda. They call us the great Satan and have promised our destruction. Sept. 11, 2001, was a wakeup call.

Bin Laden is dead, but there are thousands more like him. We spent more than a decade trying to kill him, starting with Bill Clinton, and probably a billion dollars.

Can we afford to kill them all when were living on borrowed money now?

The answer to 9/11 was to punish us all in the name of security and at the expense of liberty. When you visit the Capitol, it's an armed camp.

The days when I flew every week are long gone, and so is vacation travel by air. It's a real hassle and affront to our freedom. Even a bottle of water is a threat.

We've added ammunition to al-Qaeda with gay marriage and recreational drugs. This is a problem that's not going away.

We're challenging our religious freedom and have our Catholic bishops up in arms. Our country was founded to protect religious freedom. Not a pretty picture, and one all religions should be concerned about.

That's a pretty bleak picture, but there are things for which we can be thankful.

We live in an "oasis of tranquility" surrounded by a "sea of discontent."

Some 60 years ago, I visited Warrenton to pick up a new Jaguar. It was charming; people were friendly, and it had four hardware stores close to Main Street.

I vowed at the time, if I survived the war and lived long enough, to return to Warrenton.

Years later, we did that, and for the past 30 years, we've never regretted the decision.

We have lots of nice people who talk to each other even though some may have different political views. My neighbors are all good friends that help whenever they can and we do likewise.

We're blessed with a beautiful countryside that visitors to our annual farm tour never cease to say how nice it is. We're trying to keep it that way for future generations with conservation easements, PDRs and agricultural and forestal districts. Fauquier County is a leader in Virginia in preservation.

We help each other as well as others. Where else do they send three truckloads of food and clothing to Staten Island that was hit by hurricane Sandy?

It doesn't get much better than this, so let's hope the status quo can be resolved, and we start talking again in Washington.

John Schied, Warrenton