Our current president was supposed to be a transformational leader. When he was first elected in 2008, he inherited a country deeply divided over the war on terror and that was headed headlong into a great recession. He soaring rhetoric was supposed to heal us. Our divides were supposed to be sewn back together as we gathered around hope and change.
Yet, eight years later, the wounds aren’t healed. I won’t go as far as to say that they are as deep as they’ve been since the mid-1800s, but they are deep. If this country is 40% red and 40% blue and 20% undecided, it’s safe to say that at least 80% of the people here in the United States despise people of the other party (at least politically speaking). And the 80% are not easily converted. They may switch parties based on who is running, but they aren’t necessarily transformed by the candidate for whom they vote.
Since 1988, there is exactly one winner who has received at least 53% of the popular vote — George H.W. Bush in 1988. Since 1988, there is only one other winner who has garnered at least 52% of the popular vote — Barack H. Obama in 2008. Since 1972, there have only been two winners to receive more than 58% of the vote — Ronald Reagan in 1984 (58.77%) and Richard Nixon in 1972 (60.67%).
Why quote all of these numbers? To point out the obvious. Transformational elections in the United States don’t occur very regularly and we aren’t about to have one. Yes, some may say it will be transformational because of the damage one candidate or the other could do, and I suppose that’s within the realm of possible, but this election will not be transformational in the sense that either of these candidates heal our great divide.
The next president will inherit a job where almost half of the people can’t stand them. How will our new president respond?
Will she try to mend fences with the deplorables? Or will he rule by executive insult?
Will he love American enough to want a rising tide to life all boats? Or will she continue a rigged system where only the ruling political class prosper?
I don’t know. I’m no soothe sayer, but I have a pretty good idea how this election is going to turn out. I feel fairly certain I will be disappointed in the results. Either way, I hope I can be pleasantly surprised that the winner will lead us with dignity and class.