By Ralph Benko. Reprinted from Forbes.
This week over 60 million Americans likely will vote for Clinton and another over 60 million for Trump. The way to get America back on track is for us to listen to one another irrespective of the outcome. What happens after election day is up to us, much more so than it is up to whomever we elect.
We voters are ultimately in charge of the political culture. We can, if we choose, readily put that culture to rights and America back on track. Will we so choose?
Some are already well begun.
On November 2, a unique and startling high profile conversation was conducted by the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College. I, as a representative of livingroomconversations.org, served as co-moderator. Professor Roger Berkowitz, Director of the Arendt Center and Associate Professor of Politics, Philosophy, and Human Rights, served as chief moderator.
The event was no mere academic exercise. It set a new direction, or, rather, a return to old and precious classical liberal first principles.
Hannah Arendt was one of the signal classical liberals of the 20th century. The Center named for her at Bard is keeping lifted her lamp beside the golden door. Since politics is derivative of culture this is a very big deal. The Center named for her at Bard is keeping lifted her lamp beside the golden door. Since politics is derivative of culture this is a very big deal.
The rules governing the conversation between Clinton and Trump partisans were set forth at the Bard College website:
The conversation will not be a debate, but an attempt to understand each other and hear why it is that the participants feel so strongly that their candidate could be a political savior and their adversary a force for political destruction.
Praising Hillary Clinton were Walter Russell Mead, the James Clarke Chace Professor of Foreign Affairs and the Humanities at Bard College, the Distinguished Scholar in American Strategy and Statesmanship for the Hudson Institute, and the Editor-at-Large for The American Interest; Rivka Galchen, prize-winning author and frequent contributor of fiction and essays to The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, and The London Review of Books, also a regular columnist for the Book Review of The New York Times; and Kevin Duong an assistant professor at Bard College where he teaches political theory.
In welcoming an overflow audience of close to 200 I warned that I myself have managed to irritate all of my friends, of the right and left, this year. I did so by publishing many columns and blogs in this winter of our political discontent praising Trump and Clinton, both. In a campaign season consisting almost entirely of vilification this made me somewhat of an outlier. (Some of my friends support Trump. Some of my friends support Clinton. As for me... I stand by my friends, no matter at what cost.)
The “rules of the game" of the conversation at Bard as further set forth at Bard.edu:
The American Dream has two essential components: prosperity and justice for all. Donald Trump has attracted a broad following for his promises to restore prosperity. He also has become a lightning rod for hostility both from the left and the right. Hillary Clinton has attracted a broad following for her promises to restore economic justice. She also has many fierce detractors from the right and also from the democratic socialist left. Both candidates have extraordinary high unpopularity ratings. The political discourse has produced exceptionally intense vitriol from the candidates, their campaigns, their proxies and their partisans greatly amplified by the media.
Each panelist gave a statement of their values and what makes them tick. They then moved to a statement of what they found most attractive about their chosen candidate.