Is Trump that much different from Nixon or, even more recently, the mendacious W? America has survived bad presidents before, and parties have imploded and gone out of business before. Even the founders squabbled about the, allegedly, deleterious results on democracy if a member of the opposing party was elected. The differences between Jefferson and Adams couldn’t have been greater, but we survived. Buchanan and Lincoln, though more civil, wrought considerably different changes of direction in the nation. Then, there’s Harding who needs no comparisons, except with himself.
Though the convolutions of the Republican Party may resemble the death of the Know Nothings, Democracy survived their ignorance. It will survive again; even it takes a Trump to create a new dialectic through destruction of a grand old order. There will always be an opposition movement to whoever is in power, whatever name, or names, it goes by. All this turmoil, however, obscures some obvious questions.
Is the prospect of a Clinton presidency so fearsome that the hand wringing of so many is justified? Will a liberal Supreme Court alter the national character so much that the country goes off its rails? Will Sanders make of us Communists? Will the right’s jingoism, of which Cruz is another example, turn us into a dictatorship? Will crudeness, vitriol, and all forms of nonsense, political or otherwise, transform America into the land of the ungovernable? Likely not is the answer to all of the above.
The favor the Republican Party, and the Democrats, too, to a lesser extent, have done us is to show that we should spend more on education so that thirty second bites do not determine anyone’s future; that character should stand for something, though that lesson may still be in progress. It urges the proposition that preachers, even the Pope, should return to their pulpits and speak about God instead of politics. It shows that we increase individual rights when we extend them to all people and, finally, that we fought our revolution to liberate people, not enslave them, mentally or physically. These are good thing to know.
So what if Trump is a disaster, as he may be, or Cruz, Sanders or Clinton may be, too? Virtually each and every candidate this season demonstrates that we need to engage more deeply in a dialogue, not a colloquy, about who we are and where we want to be as a people, but let’s not forget that fundamental disagreement, in the pursuit of compromise, is in the nature of democracy. It’s a never-ending process. Life will go on regardless of whatever direction the people select, presently. Others can and will change that direction, in due course, because elders will still die and the young, always, will inherit.
Older people, in the supreme egotism of the moment, forget that they are merely transient beings on the face of the earth who, regrettably, overlook their heirs who are, presently, anxious. They are disgusted. And, they are, also, impatient. Don’t blame the candidates for the present state of affairs, however. There are mere reflections of the electorate, of us all. To assess what’s wrong it might be better to look in mirror and determine if we, not the candidates, are the ones wearing no clothes.
Mike Malak is an attorney, photographer and writer and an occassional contributor to Bayoubuzz.com