The President of the United States requires an tremendous amount of endurance. Being President requires an astounding about of commitment, discipline, and willpower to endure the never-ending stress of the position and the scrutiny of a population quick to criticize and slow to show appreciation. POTUS is not just a job. It is a lifestyle of leadership and selfless public servitude. Those Presidents, who find themselves incompatible with this lifestyle choice, have been consumed by the job; whereas, the greatest of Presidents have seized the opportunities offered to them by the Presidency and have been transformed by the power and responsibility of the Office into the greatest of leaders.
President’s Day was crafted from the birthdays of President George Washington and President Abraham Lincoln to honer those who have taken on the responsibility of the Executive Branch. It is, however, great Presidents like Washington and Lincoln who are remembered on Persistent Day. George Washington faced the herculean task of of building a government, a new form of government, in a post-war nation of former colonies reluctant to cooperate and even more reluctant to empower a centralized government. Abraham Lincoln presided over a civil war and a massive cultural revolution that ended with the demise of slavery. Today, the US faces an ideological political civil war that requires the same level of leadership potential.
The United States consists of, at least, 11 subcultures. During the time of the Civil War, geography and logistics meant the divide between these subcultures was particularly wide. When the US was formed, the Founding Fathers struggled with issues like slavery, which was morally sound to some and morally apprehensive to others. Slavery was so ingrained in the cultures of the South that it was morally justified and economically necessary. Ultimately, the Founders agreed to avoid an inevitable culture clash by neglecting the issue and allowing States to decide. Although the culture clash over slavery eventually climaxed into a bloody civil war based on States Rights versus Federal Rights, it was not until the slavery mentality was scrubbed from America’s subcultures, which have been steadily uniting into one nationalized culture, was the US able to reunite under one system of governance.
The actual violence of the Civil War forced people from the South and the North to choose between continued devastation or peace with hard changes. The North’s superior military might encouraged Southerners to accept slavery as a casualty of war. In order to move beyond the Civil War and rebuilt the United States, however, , the subcultures of the South, which considered slavery to be moral and just, had to sacrifice part of their “morals” and “values” for the sake of unification and democratic way of life. Southerners lost the Civil War, so they had to change their way of life, which included abolishing slavery, and had to accept the supremacy of the Federal government over State governments. The North did not, however, use the Civil War to thoroughly suppress the interests of the South nor did the North completely erase the unique subcultures of the South.
With that in mind, it is important to recognize that Abraham Lincoln was not a great President, because he simply confronted a terrible wrong or divided the Nation to preserve his government. He was a great President and leader, because he helped pull people together despite their cultural and political differences. Although the United States still consists of numerous subcultures, which are incompatible in some ways and, therefore, often conflict, Americans have a long history of transcending their irreconcilable differences based on culture, ideology, and politics to support a unified nation. Americans belong to various subcultures, but they also have a shared national American culture, which can and must unify them.
There are incompatible subcultures within the US, which will perpetually conflict on given issues, and these divisions are seen within today’s political civil war, which is driven by one’s political affiliation and support of political figures. These political differences can, however, be transcended to preserve our system of governance. The countries of Europe, Asia, and Africa have long histories defined their culture beyond what form of government they haves; whereas, the collective national American culture of American subcultures is defined by democratic governance. As such, politics can transcend, and has transcended, the subcultures and political divisions of America. Unfortunately, the focus of the political system is on the irreconcilable differences and issues that divide Americans instead on how the political system can solve issues.
Today’s political civil war is driven by one side wanting to use government for this and the other side wanting to use government for that. One side wants government to allow people to do this and the other side wants government to allow people to do that. There will always be ideological differences and conflicts over morally-charged issues like abortion, the death penalty, and discrimination that will result in culture clashes. Where government has the power to act on these issues in constructive and meaningful ways, democratic governance offers all sides a chance to debate whether the government should do something and what the government should actually do. Because culturally divisive issues divide people along political ideology, there will always be disagreement, whether government acts or declines to act on a given issue.
If governments acts inappropriately, it will only make the culture clash worse and undermine support for government. Although government will never act in line with what any particular individual wants all, or most, of the time, balanced and responsive governance, which truly represents the People, does play an invaluable role in American society. Unfortunately, government has failed too often to act in a balanced and responsive way, which has fueled division. It has failed to govern properly, because those in power over the course of decades have catered to their political bases and special interests instead of addressing and balancing the interests of all the American People from the various American subcultures and across America’s political spectrum.
To be a great leader, current US President Donald trump needs to help the Nation overcome the current political civil war without escalating the culture clashes between warring faction. Similarly to Lincoln, Trump can use the force of the Federal government to preserve the unity of the Nation. If he uses the power of the Presidency to simply favor those on the Right, and crush those on the Left, he will fail to transcend the ideological divisions, which is needed to remind Americans of what makes them Americans. By focusing on solutions to specific issues and the role of government in solving specific issues, instead of political ideology, Trump can help remind Americans that before they are Republicans, Democrats, or independents, before they conservative, liberal, or moderate, they are Americans united under one Nation.
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