There are always two or more sides to every argument in politics. But in 2016, agreeing to disagree was thrown out the window and replaced with a “my way or the highway”, “one right way” mentality that the country hasn’t experienced in at least 50 years. Both parties fielded candidates and a vigorous debate ensued on a plethora of issues. Everything was on the table from day one all those months ago. War, the economy, immigration, education, racism, terrorism, women’s rights, healthcare and climate change.
For the both Democrats and Republicans there were anomalies in the works. Bernie Sanders challenged Hillary Clinton from the left and Donald Trump came at all challengers from every direction. The big difference between the parties was evident. Bernie Sanders challenged Hillary Clinton almost entirely on the issues. He made it clear he truly cared about the causes he has stood for for decades. Clinton, the presumptive front runner all along, had a clear record to run on and decades of public service.
The Republican party dissolved into chaos with very little real debate about the issues. The contrast was largely over personalities, individual values and baseless vitriol. Trump’s populism is reminiscent of the cult of charisma surrounding right wing leaders like Mussolini in Italy. He specializes in conspiracy theory like “birtherism”, a racist ploy designed to undermine the legitimacy of President Obama. In the process Trump intentionally fanned the flames of bigotry against Mexicans, Muslims, Black Americans and women. The flames he fanned attracted the moths of ignorance in droves. And the fear mongering spawned counter protests.
When the dust had settled it was Trump vs. Clinton. Trump’s tactics continued and bewildered Republicans. The anti-Clinton machine from the 90’s kicked into gear and long lost and repeatedly debunked conspiracy theories were dredged up by the Trump camp and disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters alike. The worst of the lot is the ‘Clinton Body Count’ meme created by Linda Thompson, who is certifiably troubled but is backed by “legitimate” evangelical right wing news outlets.
And then there were those emails… we’ve seen it all in 2016. But this was probably the biggest non-story of the decade. By my count, over 1 Million emails and possibly 3 or 4 may have been mishandled at worst.
So it isn’t hard to see why, win or lose, Mrs. Clinton is my clear choice. She is backed by a great president and first lady, not a single former former president, Republican or Democrat opposed her and Bernie Sanders has campaigned vigorously for her.
Now it is time for reconciliation regardless of who becomes president. It is up to us to talk to each other. It is up to each of us to agree to disagree again and find common ground. It is time for us to work together to change what we can about our politics, like repealing Citizens United. When we agree, America can’t be stopped. But is is up to each of us.
For more on reconciliation, visit our National Day of Reconciliation website by click here.