Running from Victory, Searching for a New Way Forward
By Andrew L. Pate, Jr.
Let's stop fooling ourselves. We will never fully understand the Trump presidency, how and why it became reality. Which will not stop us from trying. Pages and pages will be composed and published over many years in excessive explanation. But in the end, after all the studies have been completed, most likely we citizens of the United States will remain mystified by the four presidential years 2016-2020.
So, let us try a simple observation from which to seek solutions to the sharp divisions that have so alienated us:
Sometime, early in the 21st century, we Americans as "a people" went to sleep only to awaken in 2016 to a real-life nightmare, to a chaotic political world we never before imagined possible: one Donald J. Trump, a TV reality billionaire with no political experience whatsoever and very little understanding of American history and America's core values had been elected leader of the free world.
Clearly, we Americans who had long gloried in our past were stunned and rudely confronted with the fact that we had forgotten exactly why we had been great. So it was, under duress, we the people discovered we did not understand who we were, or who we are, or precisely how we came to be. Consequently, from 2016-2020 we stumbled and fumbled, confused and uncertain about our future, and even, about whether there was to be one.
Seniors now, with 244 years of independence behind us, it is as though in 2020 a crippling form of national Alzheimer's besieged us. Yes, we do still remember Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust and WWII, but not very well their causes and the dangers to freedom we were forced to protect with our very lives. And we do still mourn over the Korean and Vietnam wars, but too few among us understand why we do.
In short, our basic problem can be meaningfully described as one of memory. We've lost contact with our most precious remembrances and don't know how to recover them. And the good memories that we can recall, about how we won the wars and moved toward equality among the races and for women, too few among us fully comprehend what happened, surely not sufficiently well enough to communicate real insight about those events to others as well as among ourselves.
And, as is widely acknowledged, the separations among us are separations that reflect our education, or lack thereof. The one-third of our citizens who hold college degrees see things quite differently from those who have none, or who have had relatively little formal education beyond high school
Citizens with or without college education are to be found on both sides of our 2020 political divisions to be sure. But the essential alignment, those with are bitterly against Trump and those without are passionately for him.
If we are to come together and mold a more promising future, obviously both sides must want to. And from where I sit, the greater onus falls upon the educated. We who do know something of our history and its heritage must lead the way and reach out to those who have not enjoyed our country's blessings as much as we have. We must understand them and do for them what we have said they need to give us and the world—empathy and mature understanding
In summation, we who have had instilled in us a pragmatic understanding of our essential values and laws are being called upon to share that knowledge while at the same time offering understanding and leadership to those who are without that knowledge.
Above all, we with college backgrounds are being asked to understand and accept the humanity of those who do not see things as we do. For they have been placed at a serious disadvantage with respect to jobs and opportunities. And we have misjudged them. We have, one could rightly say, "snubbed them," leading them to be justifiably resentful of our assumed superiority.
Blame falls on both sides.
That said, I repeat, the greater responsibility for bridging the gap falls upon whose of us who have been college educated and enjoyed the several privileges our society has granted us; and fulfilling our responsibilities demands hat we acknowledge our own prejudices and shortcomings.
Our mainline churches can help by offering worship and other assemblies for people of all classes and races. For every American needs a place where he or she can talk over their thoughts and grievances with their fellow citizens..
Businesses can offer exciting refreshing courses in American history and government, with inducements for promotions and salary increases.
What we have forgotten, we must relearn. Otherwise, we may succumb to our senility.