Unification,? Not this year

By JACK RYAN,

It is a staple of presidential campaigns for candidates to predict confidently that they can bring the country together. This year, Republican front-runner Donald Trump is foremost in saying he can do this.

However, a look at the likely presidential nominees, not to mention recent political history, makes it obvious that the country will remain sharply divided, no matter who wins.

The history lesson first. The last three presidents, Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, each spent eight years in office. It’s no stretch to say that the country was more divided at the end of each president’s second term than it was when he first took office.

The only exception was in 2001, when it took the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to bring the country together. Unfortunately, President Bush decided to invade Iraq in 2003, which set the country to squabbling once again.

Barring another terrorist attack in the United States between now and the inauguration of a new president next January, it’s easy to predict that the American people will remain divided about the direction of the country and how we will get there.

Many of the leading contenders for the nomination seem determined to upend the country instead of bringing it together.

Trump may talk about unity, but his actions speak otherwise. While protesters at his rallies are making a strategic error — their disturbances give him more publicity — the candidate shows his true colors when he encourages his supporters to fight back against those who disagree with him. To put it plainly, Trump’s a bully, and that kind of personality is much more of a dictator than a unifier.

Then there’s Ted Cruz, Trump’s leading challenger. He gets great satisfaction out of insulting his U.S. Senate peers. Republicans in Washington can’t stand the guy, and if a president can’t win over congressmen of his own party, he stands no chance of getting anything done.

As for Democrats, leading candidate Hillary Clinton has no chance of being a unifier. She carries enough political baggage to fill an 18-wheeler. Her decision to use a private server to store her e-mails as Secretary of State illustrates everything that’s wrong with her: Keep it secret, keep it under your own control, don’t trust anybody. That’s paranoia, not unification.

Finally, there’s Bernie Sanders, who is giving Clinton a surprising and spirited run for the Democratic nomination. The fact that Clinton is having trouble knocking down a socialist tells you how much trouble she’s having this year.

Sanders essentially wants to start a class war, creating a nation where everything would be free — until the money to pay for all the goodies runs out. The country would not come out of this battle in better condition.

So the voters may as well brace themselves for reality. There is no unifying candidate this year. The shouting will continue into 2017, and our problems will await leadership who can coax different groups into working together.

Jack Ryan, Enterprise-Journal