The same day as the first U.S. presidential debate, the Colombian government signed an accord with the Marxist rebel group FARC, ending a 52-year conflict that consumed a quarter-million lives. However, just a week later in a single-issue referendum, the Colombian people voted by a narrow 50.22% majority to reject that deal, though it had taken four years to negotiate.
The lesson is as simple as it is repetitious: conflicts benefit very, very few, while they destroy very, very many. And even near the end conciliation is difficult to achieve amidst the bitter entrails of a long-standing feud.
Hopefully, both candidates for the White House will take that into account under the bright lights and heavy pressure of presidential politics, remembering that this contest isn’t about either one of them, per se, but about the republic and that for which it stands. (more…)