No need to push the panic button
The presidential election in the United States was contested by one of the most controversial candidates in the country’s history. Now president-elect Donald Trump is poised to become commander-in-chief, a reality that is still reverberating across the globe, with nervous anticipation about what the future holds for both America and the international community.
There is no question that the blistering campaigns between the Republicans and the Democrats before the election left a deeply divided nation, with wounds on both sides, which will take more than a few months to heal. However, just as many people were on the verge of pushing the panic button, with some talking of leaving America, something rather significant happened in the White House, which was nothing short of being a poignant moment in that nation’s political history.
Two men, president Barack Obama and Trump, his successor, sat down for a conversation that would set the tone for how well Republicans and the Democrats may be able to work together for the good of the nation. Anxious reporters huddled as they awaited the outcome of discussions that apparently rose above expectations.
When the two men spoke to the media afterwards, there was certainly no indication that bad blood was in the air because of many negative remarks aimed at each other during the heated campaigns. It was as though both had crossed a barrier of political divisiveness and were prepared to work together to tackle domestic and international issues in a co-operative spirit.
President Obama emphasised that his talk with Trump was constructive and that he was very encouraged by a willingness from the president-elect to work closely with his team in the transitional process. Reporters were looking for any sign of tension when the men spoke, but it was almost a case of two periods of history.
President-elect Trump appeared somewhat humbled in his remarks and not only described president Obama as a good person, but said he was open for more meetings and would value his counsel. At least that was a start in trying to bridge the emotional divide, which had resulted in some protests by those opposed to a Trump Administration no matter what is said.
The mere fact that both men brushed aside negativity to focus on the importance of working closer together despite political differences is what we in Bermuda should take note of. It should never be a situation where one political party claims to have all the answers to problems, while the other party is seen as a hindrance. It happens in so many jurisdictions, and the truth is that no political party alone ever has all the answers.
In a small place such as Bermuda, it seems a shame that we are unable to bypass political allegiance on sensitive matters to use our best talents collectively for the good of Bermuda and her people. The focus should never be on which political group is the strongest. Instead, the focus should be on how strong Bermuda can be, with everyone working together to face the many challenges of the day. Most us know there are many. That meeting at the White House between two men who had never spoken before is all the evidence one needs that real progress can take place only when people with significant differences decide to overlook them and commit to working together.