May 28, 2023

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A Perfect Opportunity for The Dole Institute to Shine

Aside from the Civil War days, has this country and its citizens ever been as divided as they are today?  Not just “divided” but angry, mad, frustrated and afraid of what is happening to this country.

Years ago, Barack Obama was winding up his presidential campaign and told a vast national TV audience that if they put him in the White House, they could bring about “fundamental” changes in America.

He and members of his administration followed through on this pledge and made many changes in laws and policies which, in one way or another, affected the lives of most all Americans.

Years later, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign called on voters to “Make America Great Again.” Here too, Trump followed through on his goal by building back the strength of this country’s economy, its full work force, the armed services and projects to stop, or control, the growing numbers of illegal immigrants entering our country along the U.S./Mexico border.

Trump was knocked out of office by Joe Biden, who immediately canceled many of Trump’s actions such as stopping a major oil pipeline, stopping construction of a giant wall along the U.S./Mexico border and approving highly controversial changes in K-12 education programs.

In January of 2021, a large Pro-Trump rally was held in Washington with thousands of those in attendance then marching to the nearby Capitol building.  Many climbed the walls, smashed windows and doors of the building and entered the House and Senate offices.

Recently the Biden justice department called for FBI officers to raid Trump’s residence for the stated purpose to discover secret and sensitive papers that Trump had supposedly removed when he left the White House.

Hillary Clinton described Trump supporters as “deplorables” and Biden recently called Trump backers supporting his call to “Make America Great Again” as “semi-fascists” and “Threats to Democracy.”  Statements which serve as a wedge to drive deeper and deeper to divide this country.

Today American citizens on both sides of the political scoreboard are almost reaching the breaking point. Tempers are red hot and it won’t be surprising if there are numerous acts of violence attributed to the intense, almost uncontrolled, anger of both Democrats and Republicans.

With national mid-term elections only a few weeks ahead, November 8, and with anger and madness growing more intense every day, what is likely to happen after the results are posted? Will highly partisan emotions become even more dangerous?

What’s the nation’s mood likely to be between November 8 and two years later in November of 2024 when the national elections will determine the political leadership of this country?  It could be months of name-calling, reckless charges, large public political rallies, millions upon millions of dollars spent urging voters to vote for specific candidates, riots and street demonstrations that get out of hand and end up with injuries and property damage, campaign managers, as well as the candidates themselves, trying to fire up their supporters to knock on doors and get out the voters.

Unfortunately, there will be some trying to figure out a way to cast illegal votes and/or other means to tilt the numbers and beat the system.  Big time politics, big elections, are becoming increasingly a game of doing anything and everything to win.   That’s all that counts.  If you cheat and win, there really isn’t much of a penalty and if you cheat and lose, there usually isn’t much more than a slap on the wrist.

It’s going to be a highly contentious, extremely dangerous period for this country.  How many citizens appreciate just how serious the mid-year, post-election period will be and then the lead-up to the national elections?

Some senior, knowledgeable political and government officials predict major riots depending on who wins.

Every year since the Obama campaign speech about making “fundamental changes” to America, rhetoric has become increasingly incendiary. bitter, mean and ugly.

With Congress divided fairly evenly and with the fragile situation in the White House, a lot is on the line with the midyear and general elections.  “Fundamental changes” could be a reality with changes in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  More than 70,000 new Internal Revenue Service agents acting as government spies into the activities of those in the winning political party, etc., or…the consequences if “deplorables” put someone into the White House who truly believes in “Making American Great Again”?

What can be done to lower political temperatures and avoid another civil war?  All Americans – Democrats, Republicans, conservatives or liberals, blacks, whites, or whatever colors, young or old, gay or straight, should realize there are far too many citizens who hate this country and will do most anything to achieve their goal.  This would seem to be an ideal time for the Dole Institute to use this opportunity to put into practice the Institute’s mission:

The mission of the Dole Institute of Politics is to promote political and civic participation as well as civil discourse in a bi-partisan, balanced manner.

The Institute was established in 1997 and opened under the leadership of Richard Norton Smith, who did a superior job of setting high standards and expectations for the Institute.  He was followed by Bill Lacy who also did a fine job in overseeing the growing operations at The Dole and now Audrey Coleman has assumed leadership of the Institute.  Fortunately, she has the vision and commitment to make The Dole even better.

Over the past 20 years the Dole Institute has designed a diverse program with speakers of various political leanings, the recognition of a number of nationally and world prominent leaders, increased student activity and a growing collection of political and historical papers.

One of its best programs is the Post-Election Conference that provides an inside look at the elections with campaign managers, pollsters, finance chairmen and media analysts offering their views on why the election went the way it did, what mistakes were made and what can be learned about the election and the mood of the country.

It’s a winner, perhaps the best such program in the country.

Why not have The Dole tackle the critical task of encouraging the public, politicians, candidates, government officials and the media face up to the challenge and realize the country is drifting, with increasing speed, into a potentially disastrous revolution inside this country?

Use the upcoming Post-Election Conference as a kick-off and announce plans for several seminars during the upcoming national election period that will focus on the deadly serious matter of citizens and politicians lowering the level of political warfare which could easily damage this country for years to come?

These seminars could and would attract national attention that would entice national leaders in politics, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, media leaders, historians, economists, military experts, foreign relations professionals, educators and others to participate in such unique and important events.

The seminars would last several days rather than a one-day quickie with a couple of addresses and then everyone goes home putting aside what they may have heard at The Dole.

Lawrence/KU is an ideal location, in the middle of this country, away from the craziness of the coasts.  The Midwest best provides the various opinions of many Americans.

This may sound unrealistic, but the current, potentially deadly, spilt within this country is real and needs to be addressed.

Right now, there is the ideal individual at The Dole to oversee such a gigantic task.  Gerald Seib, a former Executive Editor of the Wall Street Journal, is heading up a new “Discussion Groups” program at The Dole.  He is one of the most highly recognized and objective newsmen in the country.  He enjoys personal and respectful relations with many national and world leaders and he has the vision as to what is needed in this country at this time.

Again, why not think big and move The Dole into a position of true national/world importance and recognition?  Think big!  The Dole can do it!