Here's another George Friedman article that asserts, Great leaders did not make history.  History made them.  He's not talking about revisionist history, but about the impotence of leaders to kick against the goads.  It speaks to my contention that a Trump presidency will be neither as bad as his opponents fear, nor as good as his supporters hope.  Even with as powerful an Executive as we have in the United States, other factors are much more important than who's in the White House. As Shakespeare put it, There’s a divinity that shapes our ends, rough-hew them how we will.

In thinking about the presidency – or political leaders anywhere – it is important to distinguish between ambitions and constraints. ... Beyond constitutional limits on a president, reality imposes others. Lincoln did not want a civil war; Roosevelt wanted to end the depression; Reagan wanted to energize the economy; and when he took office, Bush had no intention of invading Afghanistan nine months later. But it really didn’t matter what they wanted. Other forces were at work shaping and undermining their presidencies. Given their circumstances, some could achieve some of their goals, none could achieve all of them, and few could achieve them in the manner they planned.

Leaders aren’t iconic, they are human beings. The idea that they will rebuild society in a manner that is more just to one group vastly overstates their power. Obama is a case in point. He was expected to end all wars, end the rage against the United States in the Islamic world that led to terrorism, create jobs and so on. He likely believed in many of these things, and he may well have expected to accomplish them as president. ... Leaders inevitably disappoint, because they must claim extraordinary powers.... Their election is followed by great excitement and long periods of growing disappointment.

Roosevelt and Reagan were both regarded by opponents as completely unsuited for office. Reagan was called an ignorant and evil actor, and Roosevelt was a rich dilettante with an empty head. Abraham Lincoln was likened to a monkey and regarded as an ignorant and uncouth lout who would shame the country. And these weren’t Southerners talking. ... None were devils and none were miracle workers. 

The whole article is short, and worth reading, whether you're happy, depressed, or merely confused by the current political situation.

I still believe that the American executive branch is too powerful, but Friedman's point is well made.  I like his take on President Reagan and the fall of the Soviet Union (emphasis mine):

We like to speak of Reagan defeating the Soviet Union. The truth is that the Soviet Union was collapsing regardless of any outside effort. Reagan did not impede the process and certainly contributed to it. What he intended happened, but it was minimally influenced by anything he did. The Soviet Union fell because of internal failures built into the system.

May we always be found impeding the evil and contributing to the good, with neither elation nor panic over who holds the highest political office.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, December 12, 2016 at 10:14 pm | Edit
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Interesting post. :D Things do happen only when the conditions for them to occur are present (the law of conditioned arising in Buddhism). In the case of Mr. Trump, all we can do is wait and see. I hope and pray for the best.



Posted by Diane Villafane on Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 1:59 pm
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