Like it or not, ISIS is influencing the American electorate. It would appear that the horrific terrorists attacks in Paris had an effect on much of the country not felt after any of the many and equally horrific terrorist attacks in Israel. Suddenly the dialogue changed from attacks on “those people over there” to an “attack on us and our way of life”.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe Americans to be good people. I am proud to be one. When they do hear about terrorist attacks in Israel, a large percentage are for the most part supportive and compassionate. But there in lies the first problem. When an Israeli citizen gets gunned down or stabbed it’s not given the same significant coverage by many of the news outlets. Last week when 18 year old Ezra Schwartz, an American, was killed in a terrorist attack in Israel, CNN still headlining with the search for one of the Paris attackers, listed the other top stories on the bottom left of its website. The terrorist attack in Israel and Ezra’s death was one story down from Carly Simon’s revelation that Warren Beatty was the subject of her 70’s hit “You’re so Vain”. Hard to blame the average citizen if as a result many do not even know who Ezra Schwartz is.
Ironically the murder of Ezra, an American citizen would by itself not have done much to influence the average person nor most of the presidential candidates, but since the attacks in Paris national security and the war on terror have now become that issue the candidates clearly deem as the one they are choosing to exploit to get elected.
Forgive me if I seem cynical, but prior to the attacks in Paris the only Republican candidate I heard make mention of Israel in the previous debate was Ted Cruz. Granted I didn’t watch the entire debate, and I am not saying there aren’t others who clearly support Israel; Mike Huckabee, Marco Rubio, Donald Trump and Jeb Bush clearly have shown a tendency towards friendship towards the Jewish state; but in this particular debate it was only Ted Cruz who appeared to make a point of the importance of the relationship between the 2 countries. All candidates expressed the importance of stopping ISIS, but since no one in either the Republican or Democratic field is a supporter of terrorism, I would expect nothing less. What did strike me is that until Paris, no one seemed to be making it clear how important of a fight the fight against ISIS really is. Now all of that has changed.
With the threat of ISIS finally being taken as seriously as it should have been at least a year ago, presidential hopefuls are doing their best to impress the American electorate with their tough words and strategies. The impact it seems to be having on the American people is when presented with a choice between a more mild-mannered intellectual approach or a loud bombastic aggressive approach, the polls suggest the people prefer the latter. Henceforth the increasing popularity of Donald Trump.
I actually think the reaction of the people is just another example of what makes the United States of America such a great country. In previous times when a global power was faced with bad economic times and the threat of an aggressor looking to destroy its country and kill its people, the backlash lead to vicious dictatorships and the murder of countless numbers of innocent people. In America our backlash is Donald Trump. Might not be my first choice, but in today’s political climate worse things could happen.
The big question is, do any of the candidates on both sides of the political aisle have what it takes to defeat this global threat? Loud words and exuberant proclamations may get someone elected, but when push comes to shove the actions taken and decisions made by the next president may very well determine the future of the entire civilized world. With the increased attacks and ongoing threat from ISIS, it would appear that the Islamic State has, willingly or unwillingly, impacted how we choose to shape that future. Hopefully the choice we make will be in our favor not theirs.
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