“My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over...” said Gerald Ford as he was inaugurated in 1974 to replace the disgraced Richard Nixon as president. This morning, millions of Americans doubtless feel the same way about this election, arguably the worst in modern political history and one for which America, and democracy, will continue to pay a price.
In a campaign which at times left Americans disgusted with the process and the candidates, 40 percent of registered voters lost faith in American democracy, according to a recent Survey Monkey poll.
After eight years of the Obama administration we are left with an authoritarian national government seen by many as having shredded the Constitution and defied the rule of law, and as both parties rejected the candidacies of standing politicians, the campaign of 2016 only added to the disdain of the people for the federal government in general, and Congress in particular.
Going forward, it cannot be business as usual.
The people, as it’s said, have spoken and beginning Jan. 20 should unite behind a new president. That is what would be best for the country, but nearly half of Americans have no confidence in the president-elect. The divisiveness of the Obama administration may pale to what lies ahead under a widely detested new president and a Congress which looks to remain gridlocked.
As investor Warren Buffett famously put it, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it” and over the past two years the process of electing a new American president has lost integrity. Younger people may think it is the way of democracy.
As well, national media abandoned any pretext of objectivity in this campaign with misleading and slanted coverage driven more by ratings and politics than journalistic ethics. There, too, Americans have lost trust and respect after two years of mudslinging and even dishonesty in reportage.
There are tough times ahead, unless a new president can find some way to begin to heal deep wounds and unite the government and the country. Otherwise, distrust will grow and government will remain stalemated, its legitimacy under continued threat.
The world can only watch, and wonder.