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To the editors,
Among the many nuggets embedded in your feature (February/March 2021) inviting ten historians to offer assessments of the Trump presidency with special attention on the events outside the Capitol on January 6th, one in particular caught my eye. David Stewart is worried that "we have not yet reached a turning point in dealing with the forces unleashed by Trump's constant agitation."
Valid concern, as far as it goes, but is there a need to do more, much more, than simply wait for the Trump venom to course through our body politic? Do we need to consider a more drastic national craniotomy to resolve the current paralysis, changes that will refresh our elections and bring long-term vitality to our governance?
The partisan divisions evident in the two-party system that dominates will persist for at least several election cycles or until the political structure allows for the creation of viable alternate parties. Expanding the political landscape would encourage like-minded citizens to band together in a way that yields the election of representatives responsive to more highly-refined, segmented political aspirations. The two-party system is failing badly.
Our current national posture reflects the single-minded zeal that the two dominant parties have employed for the past 60 or so years in preserving their iron-fisted control over our nation's political destiny. They may swap positions but the underlying goal for Republicans and Democrats is always the restoration of presumed diminished power, to the detriment of forging a national consensus on the important issues of the day.
The community of nations, who previously looked to the United States for moral leadership in international relations, will be less likely to echo our positions on world developments lest the pronouncements and Twitter feeds of the past four years by former President Trump, and particularly the events surfacing on January 6, are raised to show that our national values ring hollow.
Given the horrific events at the U.S. Capitol, there will throughout the spring and summer be a massive back-peddling by those political leaders who appeared to give carte blanche support to the Trump Administration. But, as the next presidential election cycle approaches and the electorate continues to be identified as a right-of-center majority, there may be an effort to resuscitate some elements of the Trump agenda, albeit in a more 'palatable' form.
It will take several years to reconcile the deeper issues that divide the electorate, which seems to focus on the proper level of Federal (state) control over the individual's personal life and lifestyle. Change can be scary but it's necessary and evolving a strong multi-party system appears both reasonable and prudent.