Our Opinion: For good or ill, US will define itself in 2016

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In 2016, the United States of America should resolve to relocate its courage and to appeal to its better angels. Neither will be easy. It's a presidential election year.

A presidential campaign that dominated and largely poisoned the public discourse in 2015 will be even more dominant this year as the nation prepares to go to the polls on November 8. With Hillary Clinton seen, rightly or wrong, as the inevitable Democratic nominee, the Republican race has been front and center, and Donald Trump, as well as Ted Cruz and Ben Carson, quickly found that fear-mongering and ugly appeals to America's lesser nature draw ratings and press attention.

That threesome didn't create the market for their successful strategy, of course. They would have joined Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal et al on the sidelines early if the selling of fear and hatred didn't have a ready-made audience.

Islamic terror doesn't really threaten the foundation of the United States, and the over-reaction to it and the Muslim-bashing of Trump and company attest to larger fears of the "other" in a changing America. Blacks, Hispanics, women, gays and others who no longer accept their designated "place" in US society threaten the old order, which has found its champion in the insulting bully boy Trump.

A nation that personified strength and bravery to much of the world in the 20th century needs to regain its nerve, and a nation of immigrants needs to remember its roots. Those are worthy resolutions for 2016, but it will be difficult to focus upon them given the distracting din coming from what is unlikely to be an edifying campaign for the presidency and control of Congress. It's an important campaign, however. The United States will continue to define and redefine itself before the world in 2016 — and no more so than by its votes on Election Day.


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