Tags: 2020 Elections | america | leadership

Despite Bitter Electoral Confrontation, Both Sides Share Common Sentiment

republican and democrat symbols over an american flag
(AP)

By Friday, 25 September 2020 01:13 PM Current | Bio | Archive

This election is about powerlessness.

A whole spectrum of voters from across the political spectrum are frustrated that the American ideal of social and economic progress for themselves and their families has become nothing more than an unrealizable dream.

The energy and emotion inherent in presidential campaigns, however, creates the illusion that somehow through the aggressive confrontation of the candidates and their supporters the sense of powerlessness can disappear.

Those who support Trump believe he has brought them the opportunity, through him, to attack the elites who've held power for decades and have refused to take responsibility for the steady downward quality of life of the average American. Trump represents for them a sort of Robin Hood, and who cares if this Robin Hood is the richest in the land as long as he keeps attacking any and all who've failed them until now, in the age B.T., Before Trump.

The power they detest was out there in certain cases to rob them of their share of the good fortune that America brought to some, and, in other cases, to interfere in their God and constitutional given right not to have government on their backs.

The problem is the Trump supporter's desire for revenge against "the system" blinds them to the reality of Trump's failures mistakes and shortcomings, the most recent example being his silence when Russia put Americans soldiers in Afghanistan on their assassination hit list and the mismanagement of the COVID-19 epidemic. The most loyal supporters of any politician owe it to him or her not to remain silent when mistakes are made, especially where party fundamental principles are violated.

Those who dislike Trump feel that they are on the verge of bringing down a scourge that has contaminated American politics and more importantly American virtue. At the same time their deep-seated frustration comes to the surface when they consider that even if they represent more than 50% of the electorate they have less than a fair chance to elect their candidate because of both a gerrymandered electoral college and also presidential manipulations that will do everything possible to prevent them voting, or, if they vote by mail-in ballot, to have their vote counted.

In recent history, there has never been a president who failed to rise above the 50% approval rating during in his term in office and, as a logical consequence, there has never been a president reelected without at some point in time gaining the support of the majority of voters.

The problem with the Trump opponents is they do not recognize that many Americans consider that liberalism has not gone far enough to encourage and accompany most hard-working Americans. They also refuse to recognize that Joe Biden is a candidate from an older tired generation.

Where both sides meet is their sense that the system hasn't worked. They agree that politicians have failed to solve the problems of everyday life that have worsened continually, even when they try sincerely to break out of traditional Left/Right party platforms.

This election is, of course, about the issues: taxation, regulations, distribution of social benefits and also, of course, social issues.

But more, much more, than the issues, is a frustration with the political system as such that won't go away after the election.

On a strictly electoral level, each side is braced and motivated to bring down the other. But as much as the wielding of electoral power is real, the Republicans to win the reelection of Donald Trump despite an almost certain loss in the popular vote, and the Democrats to demonstrate that the Trump presidency was just a painful blip, all of this won't make a dent in the underlying feeling of discontent and powerlessness of the American electorate.

During the campaign, the most militant campaigners often mistake anger for power.

But after the dust settles, problems won't go away, and both sides will share the feeling of powerlessness despite all the electoral hubris.

Recognition of this shared sentiment may be a way to begin to heal the divisiveness in America today.

And perhaps one thought might take this one step farther.

Reflect on two of our great presidents in the 20th century:
Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.
Each became president successively with totally different ideologies.
Each fought hard against determined adversaries.
But no one questioned their devotion to the country and their determination to achieve both peace in the world and prosperity for the greatest numbers.

America became what it is at least in part because it was blessed with great leaders. We need to believe that in the future we will be capable of rising above the bitter political campaigns, as we did in the mid 20th century, to produce leaders that we can uniformly admire whatever their political affiliation.

This is a lot of ask these days.

But to see how great we were, and to believe in how great we can be as a united people, should be well worth the effort.

Mark L. Cohen has his own legal practice, and was counsel at White & Case starting in 2001, after serving as international lawyer and senior legal consultant for the French aluminum producer Pechiney. Cohen was a senior consultant at a Ford Foundation Commission, an advisor to the PBS television program "The Advocates," and Assistant Attorney General in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He teaches U.S. history at the business school in Lille l'EDHEC. Read Mark L. Cohen's Reports — More Here.

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MarkLCohen
We need to believe that in the future we will be capable of rising above the bitter political campaigns, as we did in the mid 20th century, to produce leaders that we can uniformly admire whatever their political affiliation.
america, leadership
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2020-13-25
Friday, 25 September 2020 01:13 PM
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