Rejecting The Dark Side Of Politics
Every four years I turn back to The Glory And The Dream by William Manchester. (I first read it in high school and it just brings back some homey memories and so it falls open late at night each presidential season since those days in Hancock.) The Bonus Army starts off the two volume narrative of our American story and in 84 pages President Roosevelt is inspiring the nation to have faith in the future. Had the story not ended in the 1970’s Manchester would have added the “city on the hill” language from Ronald Reagan. From the start of our nation when the Founding Fathers gave the ideals of the ages to our constitutional democracy we have always looked up and out and towards the future. With hope. And light.
Then came the Republican National Convention this past week and it showed what the opposite view of our national story looks like. Dreadfully sad.
Donald Trump’s convention’s was dark throughout the week but turned even more so Thursday night when he painted a picture of our nation in decline and at war, both abroad and at home. Over the course of the week speaker after speaker highlighted death and destruction and economic malaise. That the entire convention was designed to produce fear and alarm among the less educated in the nation should not be a surprise. That is, after all, the way Trump ran his campaign throughout the entire primary season.
What a stark image from those Americans who have come before in times of war or economic upheavals. In the past would-be leaders exhorted us to our better angels and reminded us that together we could prevail over the times that tried to bring us down.
Trump is the dark force of human nature who seeks instead to lash out, play to our fears, and reject a unified way to a better land. My reading of Manchester’s book–and the larger story of this nation–tells me that we are unique and highly capable of overcoming the ones who seek to separate us. We stop and listen for a while to the loudest ones who shout and appeal for us to follow them, but then we stop and reflect and find the best path is to grab the hand of our fellow citizen and work as one.
History shows that the likes of Huey Long, Joe McCarthy, and Benjamin Tillman (to name but three) wind up being despised. Trump by his actions and words will be added to that list. After each unseemly attempt to steer the nation from our anchored place of democracy the people have always turned away and found the words and actions of our ancestors more worthy of our attention.
So it shall be again this year.