Winning the peace


Luis Jaimes/Wikimedia Commons


Someone will today win the war to be President of the United States.

Some friends and acquaintances say that if the winner is Democrat Hilary Clinton, it will be a disaster for Alaska. Other friends and acquaintances say that if it is Republican Donald Trump, it will be a disaster for the nation.

On either side of the country’s vast political divide, there are people who see the candidates as pure evil. Some U.S. celebrities, for God sake, have promised to leave the country if Trump wins.

They overestimate the power of the presidency. It is easy to do. And on an international level, a U.S. president does have the authority to get the country into deep danger, but on a domestic level, the power is greatly limited.

The American ship of state is an oil tanker not a speedboat. No matter who wins this election, it is unlikely much will change any time soon. If it changes much at all

The country has been in political gridlock for a long, long time. 

And that appears unlikely to change. The run-up to the 2016 election has divided the nation more than ever. An August poll found nearly 6 in 10 Americans held an unfavorable view of Clinton. It was about the same for Trump.

Whoever wins, she or he will have the distinction of being the least popular politician ever elected to the nation’s highest office. Just for reference sake, despite a brewing Watergate scandal, President Richard M. Nixon has an approval rating 180 degrees opposite Trump and Clinton when he was re-elected in 1972; about 6 in 10 American then had a favorable view of Nixon.

Don’t celebrate

Backers of the winning presidential candidate today will no doubt celebrate. They shouldn’t.

No matter who wins, the triumph will be as meaningless as the U.S. “victory” in Iraq. War is in its way easy. It is as simple as the late Gen. George S. Patton observed: kill the enemy.

Winning the peace is another matter.  America is today a country in which a lot of people have lost faith. The Tea Party and Black Lives Matter don’t stand that far apart. Both believe themselves mistreated by the ruling elite.

It’s a problem.

“Public sentiment is everything,” a former president once observed. “With public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed.”

The president’s name was Abraham Lincoln. He led the nation through its darkest, bloodiest period because Americans were unable to figure out a peaceful way to settle their differences over the abomination of slavery.

This is not to suggest the country is on the verge of a new Civil War, but there is a lot of anger in this country, and where we go next is going to depend on how the next president – be it a she or a he – deals with it.

Trump or Clinton, Clinton or Trump, will face a Herculean task. They are both of the ruling elite. The problem is of the masses.  You have to wonder if they can even begin to identify. They are both so far removed…

Trump came from wealth. Clinton rose from blue-collar roots but has been so long immersed in the monied class that she thinks nothing of her daughter landing a $600,000 per year job on name-recognition alone and suggests half of Trump’s supporters belong in a “basket of deplorables.” 

One can only hope that whoever wins, they start their presidency by ratcheting down the rhetoric and ratcheting up an effort to find common ground with those with whom they disagree, because otherwise this could easily get even worse before it gets better.

But there is always hope.






4 replies »

  1. I’m sorry Craig but you can’t be serious when you compare the Tea Party to Black Lives Matter. The former simply believe in limited government according to the Constitution. The latter fabricate a story of police violence against blacks and condone rioting, mayhem and the killing of police officers. I generally like your writing but in this instance I can find no equivalence between these two groups.

    • I did not take the equivalence to be that of morality, but rather a lack of faith in government/country/ruling elite. To that end I think his point holds.

  2. Yes there indeed is ‘always hope’, but the reality of politics is akin to an oil tanker in motion in that changing its course is not done quickly.

    • Many would argue that our country is in political gridlock by design. Separation of powers, checks and balances, and mutual veto power all serve the purpose of not allowing special interest or social whims to take hold too quickly – which in many instances can be a very good thing.

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