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Will President Trump Unite the Country?

Will President Trump Unite the Country?

President-elect Donald Trump waves to the crowd after leaving a meeting at The New York Times on November 22, 2016, in New York. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

By Tuesday, 29 November 2016 11:23 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The recent American election raised a host of hypotheses about how to "Make America Great Again," to quote President Elect Trump. What it suggests is what made America great in the first place. Clearly, America is based on a Constitution and Bill of Rights that give and constrain simultaneously in a symphony of Judeo-Christian beliefs. The free market opened avenues of wealth and opportunity.

Most significantly, the nation was blessed with great leaders from Washington to Reagan.

Unfortunately, much of the past is gone and unlikely to be reclaimed. The ruling class is fraught with corruption — the Clinton Foundation a classic example. Leaders like Biden and the Kennedys cheated on tests without remorse. Churches have embraced the Playboy life. Law is relative and administrative rulings rigid.

How do you discover a new ruling class when the precedents of the past put the succeeding generations on the pathway to power?

Moreover, how does one govern a nation when half the population is regarded as deplorable and irredeemable and half is comprised of crybabies? Clearly the nation needs leaders of the kind we were blessed to have in the past. There is, of course, the danger of romanticizing a past that didn’t exist.

Andrew Jackson might have committed homicide before being elected president. General Omar Bradley called his colleague Douglas Mac Arthur “primitive” for his comments during the Korean War. Richard Nixon was described by his detractors as a “psychopath.” Since George Washington, none of our presidents were universally admired.

Yet there were leaders who transcended the limits of office. George Marshall was more than a Secretary of State and a Secretary of Defense, he was a symbol of American strength and generosity. Wallace Stevens, the poet, worked as an executive for an insurance company, but wrote brilliant poetry in a cocoon of quiet dignity which served as a model of civic conduct.

Harry Truman was a flawed personality in many ways including, but not restricted to, his association with the Prendergast machine in Kansas City. He was a conventional New Deal Democrat who hardly stood out as a legislative leader in the Senate.

However, when he inherited the presidency, he was obliged to make some of the toughest decisions in the twentieth century. He made them with firmness and confidence. When he retired from office, his wife met him outside the White House, and without fanfare or secret service personnel, they drove off to the family home in Independence Missouri.

Not everyone loved Truman, but he was a man who rose above his station.

The question in our era is whether anyone can rise to the level of “genuine leader,” when the culture has been debased and when Facebook America is engrossed in narcissistic pursuits. Alas, extremism is in the air.

Can President-elect Trump be our biblical Samuel chosen as a leader to heal divisions, despite the belief by some he is an undeserving selection? Or is one half of the American population so riven with distaste that no anodyne can soothe its hostility?

History awaits an answer. But history is not a guide. We are in uncharted waters. Former President Reagan was hated by the Left, but it wasn’t overturning cars and damaging property as is the case at the moment. Hatred runs deep, so deep that many casually talk about revolution. That is not a revolution in thinking, but a revolution on the streets with people dying.

Tocqueville argued, “To live in freedom one must grow used to a life full of agitation, change and danger.” Otherwise, one will move quickly, he warned, from savoring unlimited freedom to craving unlimited despotism. Do the so-called protestors realize the consequences of their actions? Can a leader rise from this emotional chaos to keep a nation unified? A jury sits in anticipation.

Herbert London is the president of the London Center for Policy Research and author of the books "America's Secular Challenge" (Encounter Books) and "The Transformational Decade" (University Press of America). Read more reports from Herbert London — Click Here Now.

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The recent American election raised a host of hypotheses about how to "Make America Great Again," to quote President Elect Trump. What it suggests is what made America great in the first place.
president elect trump, national unity, america
Tuesday, 29 November 2016 11:23 AM
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