There is a fork in the road all candidates running for office must face in hostile political environments. History will judge a candidate by the path he or she chooses.

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No one predicted it a year ago, and few saw it coming even as it began to unfold. But the political path the United States has taken this year was perfectly predictable. When the American economic engine sputters, those stalled on the highway of prosperity are quick to vent their rage.

Throughout human history, there have been three principal sources of human conflict. Race. Religion. Resources.

Race and religious conflict happens even in the best of times. Declining resources, a declining share of the pie, a dearth of opportunity nearly always exacerbates the fault lines between tribes, races, and cultures.

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump are products of a shrinking American pie, and both exploited the anger. Sanders vilified those with wealth, and promised to spread it among those without. Trump has identified different villains, and if you read the papers you know them by race and religion.

If you are currently running for office, you already know well the anxiety and insecurity inherent to the political environment this year. If you plan on running for office in the future you may face a similar or even worse environment.

It is tempting for some to stroke fear and conflict between races and religions, for it is often a quick and easy route to power. History is rich with those who have.

History however, judges best those who summon the better angles of the human spirit, those who preach tolerance in times of hostility, those who offer hope in times of despair.

It is a fork in the road that many in public life must choose. History will judge you by the path you take.

Have questions? Hit the comment button. Or email me at [email protected]. My phone number is 845-458-1210..

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Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.

How to win an election:

Running for office and knowing how to win an election is a challenge, especially for first time political candidates just learning how to run for office. Discerning the fine points of how to campaign, raise political contributions, and execute a political campaign strategy often requires the help of someone who has served as a political strategist or who has experience as a political consultant.

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