STATESIDE Sharon Harris sees the generational torch pass before her very eyes – without singeing her eyebrows

Did you know we had an election last month? Really? Forgive my attempts at humor after a crazy 18-month campaign season that received such intense global coverage. Sadly, this election revealed real divisions within America, and among its friends and families, but I believe everyone gave thanks on Thanksgiving for its end.

I’ll keep my choice secret because I don’t want to offend people I know on both sides. The almost 135 million voters and U.S. Electoral College system decided America’s future and a democracy demands public acceptance, no matter the results.

Instead, for several days, protests – some violent – followed in cities nationwide. The U.S. Constitution allows freedom of assembly, but never if it causes property damage, community safety hazards or verbal threats.

I understand disappointment, but my concerns are the millions of “traumatized” students at many colleges/universities, including Millennials, who did not vote. Their schools postponed exams, offered “safe spaces,” puppy therapy, hot chocolate and arts and crafts to soothe their frazzled nerves.

A handful of executives publicly rejected the Trump victory and voters, but a backlash made them think twice. Why would anyone stupidly insult more than 60 million potential customers?

Since coming of age, I have voted in every presidential election. Some won, but when others lost, I took a deep breath, discarded my discontent and moved on to deal with my own life.

Last year, I criticized many current job applicants and employees for their hypersensitivity. There have always been those unwilling to cope with their version of adversity, but the numbers today seem mind blowing. As new casinos open, manufacturers/suppliers who need additional staff should monitor this group to eliminate the emotionally unsuitable. Skill is not always enough.

The media and government “experts” who warned of a devastated economy if Trump won have so far had a comeuppance. The stock market has reached unprecedented highs and consumer spending has grown significantly this holiday shopping season.

Will it last? No one can predict, but it is a good ride so far, especially for many publicly-traded gaming companies.

Also helping, in my opinion, is a Texas federal judge‘s recent ruling that nullified scheduled December 1 mandatory overtime increases. The new regulations doubled salary limits-from $23,660 to $47,476-for workers to automatically receive overtime pay. Anything below that rate would qualify for a time-and-a-half compensation.

The judge determined the Obama Administration overstepped when establishing salary regulations, which is a function of Congress. Business groups, like many small gaming and amusement operators/suppliers, battled this anticipated expense. They applaud the court decision, hoping to avoid layoffs from the additional costs.

The AGA sees sunlight for 2017. The day after the election, President/CEO Geoff Freeman released a hopeful statement about future favorable business conditions. He stressed the AGA intends to “leverage its 40-state presence to build a powerful network of Congressional leaders who will promote favorable public policies and block overzealous, costly federal efforts.“

The AGA will advocate five separate issues, including a stronger push for legalized sports betting. Freeman stated, “While we are optimistic a Trump Administration will feature significantly more restrained federal agencies than what our industry (and many others) experienced over the last eight years, the challenges before us remain great.

Tuesday’s results ushered in a new era in Washington, D.C. The gaming industry is well positioned to thrive in this new environment…AGA is eager to work with the Trump Administration and new Congress and we are optimistic that the coming years will include important victories for the gaming industry.”

It’s been quite a year. As Bob Dylan sang in 1964, The Times, They Are A-Changin‘. We Americans are uncertain of our future, but one thing is clear. The guy who will sit in the Oval Office has at least signed the front of a payroll check.

Will that bring a fresh perspective with new results? Who knows, but maybe the crying students can then leave their safe spaces and puppies behind, graduate and actually find good jobs. Let’s hope so.