Ev’ry body’s talking about
Revolution, evolution, flagellation, regulation, integrations,
Meditations, United Nations, congratulations
All we are saying is give peace a chance
All we are saying is give peace a chance
–John Lennon, 1970
Almost 50 years have passed since John Lennon wrote and recorded the lasting anthem of the anti-Vietnam War, anti-Nixon movement, “Give Peace a Chance”.
It is strange how its words apply today.
Donald Trump was certainly not our choice for president, but he won the election by a large majority in the Electoral College.
Disaffected progressives now must learn how to disagree with him on the issues of now and the future rather than trying to redress wounds from what was unquestionably a brutally ugly campaign.
While Trump is responsible for some of the vitrol and hatred, there is plenty of blame to go around—including a coarse society that covers the entire political spectrum.
Perhaps we’re naïve, but having covered seven Presidential transitions and 30 or more gubernatorial transfers in multiple states, we see some hopeful signs in the post-election President-elect Trump.
First, President Obama invited Trump to the White House for 15 minutes last week—and they instead met for 90.
That meeting apparently involved real communication with each man gaining insight into the others’ true goals.
A seed of compromise spouted, especially in the areas of health care and immigration policy.
While both leaders’ hard-core base will be unhappy—compromise has become a dirty word in Washington—the country could benefit if the sprout flourishes and this isn’t all an elaborate television show.
Post-election analyses by those with no axes to grind or a**es to cover reveal that Trump’s many flaws weren’t enough to push away many ravaged members of the once-vibrant middle class who saw him as the only hope for true, legitimate change in their lives.
But Hillary Clinton’s majority in the popular vote shows a large number of Americans won’t accept a “Trump way or the highway” approach to governance. His Congressional dominance could easily vanish in two years or he could lose the Presidency in four if he goes too far or can’t deliver results matching the hopes.
Trump’s talk now of revamping Obamacare but keeping two key elements—universal coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions and extended coverage for offspring on parents’ policies—is clearly one result of that extra 75 minutes with Obama.
Trump also has taken a far more somber approach in his public presentations since realizing he would be commander in chief come Jan. 20.
Does he now think he may have gone too far, or was perceived as having done so, in stirring up racial and ethnic vitriol among a small group of supporters?
We think his appearance on 60 Minutes Sunday provides a clear answer. Pressed multiple times on any message he had for supporters gloating over his victory by making racially, ethnically or religiously motivated threats or worse, he repeated two words multiple times: “Stop it.”
Perhaps the progressive side should try the same approach by seeking to turn down the volume and turn up its efforts to find common ground so real issues can be debated.
Trump speaks business. Many businesses recognize environmental responsibility as good business. Progressives support true environmental responsibility. Gee, sounds like a starting point for a winning strategy most Americans would buy.
Then there’s the issue of elitism.
GE recently started a superb ad campaign. The first TV spots dealt with the some older Americans berating highly-educated computer and engineering experts who design the equipment GE sells because they lacked the physical skills of their grandfathers.
A second batch of spots looks at young workers who today physically turn the designs into products sold to customers. They don’t need an advanced university degree, but require education and training of a different kind.
GE’s underlying message is that both kinds of workers need each other for them and their company to succeed. Both have value, and the best of both are elites.
In our family, we’ve each spent half a day undergoing delicate surgery—one to remove brain cancer; the other to fix a badly damaged heart.
We owe our lives to the elite training and skills of our surgeons, but also to the elite training and skills of those who maintain the operating room equipment— from the power and plumbing to the machinery which lets us breathe and keeps our blood flowing and oxygen reaching our brains while our hearts are stopped or our skulls are cut open.
So in an emergency, who is more valuable—the brain surgeon or the electrician? Perhaps we need to recognize that both are vital to society and both deserve recognition by having a stable financial present and future.
We urge our readers to ignore the next few weeks. From long experience, we know much of the transition involves winnowing and posturing.
Names are floated and those truly unsuitable for high service generally are quickly identified. Some get fancy titles with no real influence to satisfy a vital constituency; others simply disappear while those with real value will likely rise to the top.
Trump’s choice of a chief of staff has been his only appointment of true importance as this is written and it is a wise one.
While we disagree with Reince Priebus’s ideology on most issues, we respect his competence to ensure a smooth running White House with credibility where it counts beyond 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
So we’ve come full circle. Americans will again compete about different ideological visions for the nation’s future soon enough.
But Lennon’s words of five decades ago still have meaning today.
There are times to give peace a chance. This is one of them.
To quote a wise pastor who was speaking of eternity, not politics, “Breathe.”