The greatest danger in our presidential campaign is the divisiveness and even potential climate of violence being fostered. But the second greatest danger is that issues have been hijacked almost completely out of the campaign as the press and political community have little choice but to react to and denounce one outrage after another.
What mandate will our next president have to enact specific policies and programs if policies and programs are not being seriously discussed? How can we discern and assess competing ideas for fixing our schools, addressing hunger and poverty, rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, combatting terrorism? The president we inaugurate in 2017 is much more likely to be effective in creating change if voters endorse such change beforehand, not merely default to who they see as the less dangerous of the two.
What a shame it would be, given the great challenges facing our nation – and especially the desperate needs of the most vulnerable and voiceless of our fellow citizens: the hungry, homeless, impoverished – for our next president to have spent years and a hundreds of millions of dollars in pursuit of the office and then get there without a clear mandate from the public to get specific things done starting on day one.
If there’s a silver lining in the dark cloud hanging over our presidential campaign it is the possibility that the growing backlash to crossing every boundary of civilized discourse and decency actually unites the country in ways that nothing else could. Each day now sees more long-serving public servants, past and present, many of them Republican, putting nation ahead of party. That needs to happen on both sides of the aisle, now and in the next White House. It needs to emerge as our new national ethic. If it does, even for a short while, there are no limits to what we can accomplish.