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Finneran: One Nation—Many Cultures/ One Nation—Many Tongues - Part 1

Friday, November 11, 2016


The 2016 elections are over. The Republic endures.

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump offered pleasant conciliatory remarks to the American people and to each other. It’s a good start.

For the most part the American people seem to be yearning for common sense and united action on the problems afflicting the nation. Toward that end, I think that Mr. Trump’s initial focus on improving veterans’ lives and investing in the nation’s infrastructure are worthy goals. They are also politically astute as those issues will draw broad bipartisan support from the Congress. Who knows, 2017 might prove to be a very productive year in Washington D.C.

The election was fought out over two competing slogans. Mrs. Clinton embraced an everything-is-wonderful theme of keeping America great. Mr. Trump embraced an everything-is-falling apart theme of making America great again.

I had the benefit of some inside knowledge, gleaned at a college football game last weekend. That inside knowledge told me that each slogan was accurate, at least with regard to America’s greatness.

For you see, I was at West Point last Saturday to watch Army take on Air Force on a gorgeous autumn day. 

No rational American citizen could ever doubt that the young cadets of the service academies reflect the best of American society. Nor could any rational American citizen ever doubt that those young cadets augur well for America’s continued greatness. Excellence in academics, sports, teamwork, and unit cohesion are impressive to behold in 17, 18, and 19 year old kids.

These young men and women (in surprising number) are well-spoken. They are courteous and respectful. They are self-disciplined. They bear a quiet pride in themselves and in their dress. 

Their pride is matched in the faces and voices of their parents and grandparents. Sitting among those parents and grandparents in the stands was informative. Some wore Clinton campaign buttons, some wore Trump buttons. Yet obvious political differences could not mask every parent’s sure confidence that America’s present and future greatness lay within the minds, hearts, and souls of the young cadets.

I was with three of my grandsons for the game and we talked to many of the cadets. They hailed from Wyoming, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Georgia and many other states. They looked so young yet seemed so poised. They were brown, black, white, and mixed. Deep South culture blended with Carribean Island culture. Western prairie culture blended with Northeast and Northwest culture. As the saying goes, only in America......................the cookouts and tailgates must be a blast.

It is surely a strength of America that its diversity reflects its appeal. I am not a bean-counter. I do not like quotas. I like merit and talent and achievement. I admire effort, desire, and determination. And those white, black, brown, and mixed Americans who came here from far away---some willingly and some unwillingly, some recently and some long ago—from Germany, from China, from Poland and Russia, from Japan and South America, from Ireland and Scotland, from Africa and the Middle East, from Italy, India, and France saw something from afar. They saw a land where skin color or religion or class origin mattered less than was the case in their native lands. They saw a land that rewarded effort and skill. They saw freedom and they tasted opportunity. They loved America. And America loved them back.

One of the young cadets I spoke with looked about fifteen years old. He was from Puerto Rico. He is a “plebe”, a freshman who just started at the Academy. I asked him about “beast week”, the brutal Army indoctrination into reveille, drill, dress, classes, discipline, and physical training. He smiled a little sheepishly at my question and said---

“It was pretty tough Sir. But the worst is behind me Sir and I’ll be proud to become an American soldier.”  

Wow. We are one nation of many cultures. And the Republic will survive. 

Tom Finneran is the former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives, served as the head the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, and was a longstanding radio voice in Boston radio.


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Reforming Wall Street

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While the uber-capitalist Trump may seem like the candidate to take on his fellow one-percenters, his words say something different. Trump blasted hedge fund managers on CBS, saying they are “getting away with murder,” on CBS’ “Face the Nation" in 2015.

"The hedge fund guys didn't build this country. These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky,” Trump said.

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They Don't Take Money from Wall Street

It’s not just that the candidates criticize Wall Street and big banks—plenty do that. But Trump and Sanders back up their tough talk by not attracting campaign donations from those same financial institutions.

Sure, Hillary Clinton has taken aim at the major financial mavericks during her time on the campaign trail—what self-respecting Democrat hasn’t? But a closer look at her campaign financials shows that she isn’t putting her money where her mouth is.

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Their Campaigns are Populist Movements

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Instead, their campaigns have been buoyed by passionate, typically politically apathetic people. People who have finally found someone they  can relate to in the political landscape and someone they feel they can trust. Despite repeated predictions of failure, regular people continue to respond to their campaigns, as both Sanders and Trump remain near or at the polls as the primaries begin.

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The Most Unusual Candidates (Ever?)

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Sure, Trump isn’t the first rich eccentric to take a run at the Oval Office (just google Ross Perot if you don’t believe us.) But he’s certainly the first candidate to speak about immigrants and other races as he has.

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Massive Crowds

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Lots of Small-Money Donations

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Real Talk

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Not to be outdone, Sanders folksy and frantic style of speech has attracted attention—and plenty of jokes and memes—from all across the internet.

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 Slated for Failure

Since the first day that each candidate announced their campaign, the political intellectual and elite have told everyone that they just don’t stand a chance. Trump and Sanders are too controversial, their too radical and they are too inexperienced. How many times did political analysts or other talking heads say they would be out of the race before the first votes are ever cast?

Yet here we are, just a few days away from the first caucuses and primaries. Neither Trump nor Sanders are out of the race. Neither is on their dying breaths. They are thriving. And, as you’ll see in our next slide, they are winning

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Leading in Iowa (and New Hampshire!)

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And in New Hampshire, as you’ll see below,  Trump and Sanders have double digit leads as we approach the first true primary.


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