Thursday, November 17, 2016

Post Election Blues: Notes From the Resistance

President Barack Obama said it. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W. VA) said it. Lots of Republicans said it.

“As difficult as it is for anyone to lose an election, the American people have spoken and Donald Trump is our President-elect,” was the way Manchin phrased it. 

It is hard for me to accept comments like that. 
Let’s be clear. The people did not elect Trump. The system did. 

More people in the United States preferred Hillary Clinton’s vision of America than Trump’s. Yet, I’m resigned to the fact he will become our 45th president January 20 because we don’t elect our commander-in-chief by popular vote. We follow the arcane rules set out in the Constitution which mandates election by the Electoral College.

So the recalibration of America has begun. Trumpsters are finding out that campaign pledges do not automatically turn into governing realities. Trump has begun the tectonic shift from promise-them-anything to here’s-what-I-can-do (assuming his Republican partners will go along with him, or maybe even they will dictate to him their vision of GOP rule). Already he is backpedaling on centerpieces of his campaign: the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, building a wall between Mexico and the United States, the deportation of 11 million undocumented immigrants and the “draining of the swamp” in Washington of lobbyists and special interests. 

If Only Hillary Had Read The New York Times: While cleaning out some old newspapers Thursday, I came across an interview of political analyst Thomas Frank that ran earlier this year, on May 16, in the Sunday Times magazine section. 

In one paragraph, here’s a six-months-in-advance autopsy of what went wrong with Clinton’s campaign: “If Trump does have a chance, it resides with working-­class voters. The obvious Democratic move would be to reach out to those voters and tell them to come home to the Democratic Party, offer them all sorts of New Deal-­style benefits. I doubt she is going to do that.”

Voters in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and Pennsylvania did more than just award Trump the presidency. By returning incumbent Republicans from their states to the Senate, they handed the incoming president GOP control of both houses of Congress, thus depriving the American public of any real checks and balances in the executive and legislative branches of government, and, once a new Supreme Court justice is nominated and confirmed, control of the judicial branch as well. 

It is hard to follow Trump’s thinking. In his 60 Minutes interview on Sunday he endorsed the Supreme Court’s decision condoning same-sex marriage in all states. At the same time he maintained he would pick a new justice who would vote to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal in all states. Does he truly believe such a socially conservative justice would not also be inclined to vote to rescind LGBT rights? 

Trump was correct in saying overturning Roe V. Wade would not eliminate a woman’s right to choose as each state would be free to make its own determination. Does Trump not realize that tens of millions of economically challenged women would be burdened by costly, time-consuming travel to states that permit abortions, a trip and expense many of them would not be able to undertake? 

Moreover, once Roe v. Wade would be overturned, one may expect Republicans would ignore their long-held belief in states’ rights and seek a national ban on abortions. 

So pray for Trump’s continued good health, and, for that matter, the health of Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Anthony Kennedy. 

As revolting as Trump might be, his replacement by vice president Mike Pence would be disastrous for any semblance of progressive government. Pence is doctrinaire, a person who openly says he is first a Christian, second a conservative and third a Republican. As governor of Indiana and as a congressman he has shown a willingness to enact measures that put his faith above the Constitution and any compassion for the underprivileged. 

Roughly 42% of eligible voters—about 97 million—chose to stay home last Tuesday. One wonders how many of them enjoy the benefits of Obamacare which may be taken away from them now that Republicans will be in control.

Finally, some sound medical advice from Dr. Ben Carson:  He has indicated he would not welcome a cabinet position because he is unqualified to run a government department.  Ya think? 

How come this didn’t occur to him when he put himself forward as a candidate to run the whole government as president? What makes him think Trump is any more qualified? Running a diversified business is far from the same as running the U.S. government and being the leader of the free world. 

I fear for our democracy, not because of Trump alone and his zany ideas about climate control, freedom of the press,  the use of the Internet to obtain news, his fabrications of the truth, his bro-love of Russia, military planning, and immigration. My biggest fear is that Trump will surround himself with repressive-minded associates who will seek to erode voting rights that would severely impede our ability to replace his and subsequent Republican administrations.

During the campaign, The Times asked Aasif Mandvi, the comedian, actor and writer best known for his work on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, if he was frightened by the anti-Muslim rhetoric. 

He said, “I’m not afraid that Trump is going to kick out all of the Muslims. What makes me afraid is the trickle-down effect of that kind of rhetoric and that now, suddenly, it has become O.K. to be racist. We’re normalizing it, and therefore you see more violence against people of color and L.G.B.T. people. The culture has been given permission to exorcise all of its darkest fears and can now blame immigrants or minorities for whatever problems white people are facing. Whether or not Trump wins, we’ve already been infused with this. This camp has already shown itself.”

If you’re in the mood for it, click on the following clip from The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. It’s a primer for how democracy can be easily eroded: