I’m always fascinated to see the various countries from which readers are checking this blog. It occurs to me that, by speaking so often of presidential candidate Donald Trump — and making it very clear how ashamed I am of our country that such a man could be taken seriously as a candidate — I may be giving the impression that Donald trump is the only person of interest in our country right now.
Let me give a slightly broader picture of this election season we’re in. At this point we have three candidates for the office of president. Donald Trump represents the conservative Republican party, though he is not a professional politician and does not fit the Republican mold very well. The more liberal Democrat party still has two candidates, though it seems only one, Hillary Clinton, is going to end up being the official representative of the party. She is quite like our current president, Barack Obama. The other person hoping to gain the Democrat nomination is Bernie Sanders, who is one of the most liberal candidates we’ve ever had running for president.
The odd thing about those three is that not one could be considered a moderate. Those of us, like myself, who don’t care for either extreme, are simply not well represented.
One way to describe the problem is that, for a great variety of reasons, many Americans have lost an understanding of the importance of compromise. So people get pushed to extremes in their views and don’t even want to find common ground in the middle. For the time being, I consider this a significant flaw in the American character.
For two reasons, I trust we will move beyond this no-compromise situation before too long. First, most of our history is one long experience of political leaders finding acceptable compromises, beginning with the Constitution itself. Second, the one glaring exception was our awful Civil War, 1861-1865. It was a terribly bloody and ugly event which is still fresh in our memories, like a deep wound that is not yet completely healed.
The twin issues in the Civil War were completely intertwined with one another” States’ rights and slavery.
States’ Rights: From the beginning we have struggled to allow each of our various states — now numbering 50 — to have as much freedom as possible to govern themselves, while reserving for the national government as much power as necessary to maintain the unity and growth of the nation as a whole. Some, especially in the South, are especially zealous about guarding States’ rights as much as possible.
Slavery: The reason why the South has traditionally emphasized States’ rights over federal authority is that their economy had long been built on the foundation of the cheap slave labor provided by captured Africans. Slavery has long been eliminated in America, of course, but its taint on our national character still lingers in the form of a stubborn racism.
And that brings us back to today’s political situation. Much of the conservative opposition to Barack Obama, I believe, has been based on plain old racism. It has been cloaked, however, in political terms, with conservatives saying Obama is just too liberal. Because Hillary Clinton is so similar in her views to Obama, conservative opposition to him has been transferred to her.
The question arises, then, of why Bernie Sanders is so popular. He calls himself a “democratic socialist” and represents a large number of liberals who are as disgusted as anyone with how government has been such a mess for the last few decades. Instead of wanting us to return to the views that held sway in America before the Civil War, however, they believe the solution is to become not more conservative but much more liberal.
So, after the first week in November we as a nation will be becoming more conservative, more liberal, or staying the same. And at the moment it is anyone’s guess.
Of this I am very sure, however, if the conservatives win and Trump is elected, that will be the end of the Republican party because I believe he is not a real conservative. He does not represent a political view of any sort: He simply represents himself and will say anything to get what he wants for himself.