Even if you are a Clintonite or a Trumpista, it is unarguable that the two presumptive nominees for President of the United States are disliked by many. While third party candidates have tended to be spoilers rather than successful, I still find myself trying to imagine whether there is anyone at all in the entire country who could unite a large constituency behind their candidacy. Without calling for such a person to come forward, I am more interested in trying to think who such a person could be.
I keep coming up blank. To start with, I wanted someone with widespread, positive name recognition, a warm persona and an articulate speaking manner. With two grueling primaries coming to a close, I don’t see how anyone without those traits (at a minimum) could possibly be widely accepted.
I never got past that first requirement. I couldn’t think of anyone with widespread, positive recognition in today’s climate. Never mind a person, I am not even sure that there is anything that a majority of Americans trust and feel positive about. Mom and apple pie? Suggesting that motherhood is positive marginalizes those who choose not to have children and those who think that one or two fathers are the same as the traditional arrangement. Let’s not even think of the insult to those mothers who now think that their gender assignment was wrong and that they actually are fathers.
As for apple pie, that seems to suggest that certain culinary traditions carry more value than others. It somehow eluded me growing up, but my immigrant grandmother who baked many delicacies, never once, to my knowledge, baked an apple pie. I was never offended by the phrase ‘mom and apple pie,’ but I attended a college that did not have safety zones. I wasn’t sensitized to the idea that my comfort is the responsibility of every person and institution in existence. Is apple pie a mainstay of Chinese, Indian, Hmong and Mexican traditions, let alone the dozens of other nationalities that make up the United States?
There was a period where when we had people whose names evoked almost universal affection and respect. Whether or not they really deserved that respect, it is possible that in a similar situation one of those people could have stepped forward and presented themselves an alternative to two tarnished candidates. Even staunch supporters of Clinton or Trump who might choose to stay loyal to their first choice would hesitate to respond to such a candidate with vitriol. General Eisenhower comes to mind as such a candidate or on the other side of the ocean, a post World War II Winston Churchill (before the people turned on him).
There used to be sports heroes and movie stars, admittedly many of whose private lives were masterfully concealed, who were loved by all but a few cranks. Are we better off now when the slightest wart is publicized? More to the point, the type of things that were hidden such as adulterous or homosexual behavior, ties to crime, violence or drug use are not themselves any longer widely condemned. We can’t agree on what is virtue and what is vice, which makes it rather impossible to find a virtuous and admired person.
If George Washington would come forward today, he would be rejected and hated by millions as a white slave owner. I don’t believe there is any figure from the past, let alone the present, who could unify our sadly fractured, confused and decaying society. I do see current events as a bloodless revolution taking place. We are many individuals and groups sharing a geographical location; we are no longer one America, one nation under God.
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