In the wake of the terrorist blast that rocked a Manhattan neighborhood this week, the talking heads and political pundits went immediately berserk. Most of them were reacting, not to the fallout from the bombing, but instead to the response from the presidential campaign trail.
Republican candidate Donald Trump was quick to fire up fear and controversy. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, held a more measured tone as she was interviewed, encouraging people to wait for the investigation to reveal some facts before making statements.
Whichever side you’re on in this election cycle, it’s easy to see that there is a major difference between the ways in which these two candidates deal with such an event. More important is how the tone and manner of each resonates and is reflected by respective followers.
As an observation, Trump supporters tend to respond to elevations of fear. The more frightened they get, the more Trump likes it. Instead of taking the lead in a calm, composed, thoughtful manner, he turns up the heat and a more bigoted sounding rhetoric.
What Americans need following such an event is a leader, not someone who merely fans the flames of hate, but who, instead, inspires us to continue unabated. Reason needs to take precedence over any sort of knee-jerk reaction and no response should be made without sound intelligence.
Slamming a fist on the podium and promising a vengeful response where we just do more killing and blowing things up isn’t the right way to go either. America must be the reason in the chaos and work with its allies to present a united front against such attacks.
Losing our heads is exactly what the bad guys hope to accomplish. That said, some people responded to Clinton’s reaction as being too weak and pandering. So is there a more acceptable response that’s somewhere in between?
If Trump is too dangerous and Clinton is ineffectual, then where is the happy medium? How would an effective leader respond to this kind of an event today in a genuine way that would still appeal to a majority of the public?
It’s easy for a politician on the campaign trail to promise whatever he or she believes will be popular among supporters. It’s obviously much harder to actually be the president and know what action to take. And the public view of “President” Trump or Clinton may be very different from that of “candidate.”
Thomas Jefferson is quoted to have said, “No man will ever bring out of that office the reputation which carries him into it. The honeymoon would be as short in that case as in any other, and its moments of ecstasy would be ransomed by years of torment and hatred.”
In other words, whatever supporters think of the candidates now may be greatly altered once he or she achieves the Oval Office. Why? Because promising the moon on the campaign trail carries with it no obligation to make it happen. Nor is there a clear understanding of what it takes to make those decisions once the shackles of the office have been attached.
Whatever the response from the candidates, it’s likely they would have a different reaction, at least in public, once in the White House. A president is more than a politician. He or she must act in the best interest of the country, with a measured resolve to maintain peace without unwarranted escalation of violence whenever possible.
As the investigation continues into these latest terror attacks, we are reminded of how volatile the world is today and how much we need leaders who can react with reason and forethought. No longer is our country insulated from terrorism nor will it ever be again. Domestic bombings will no longer be merely a story on the evening news. It could be something that happens in your town, on your street, in your neighborhood.
It’s tragic and scary. But as citizens, we must be vigilant, resourceful and act with reason and calm. If we can’t depend on our leaders to set that example for us, then we must do it ourselves.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Listen to the Deer In Headlines podcast soon on MyGreeneRadio.com. More at www.deerinheadlines.com.