In the Richland Chronicle of Nov. 15, I read with great interest Copy Editor Joyce Jackson’s comments regarding the recent presidential election. I have read a number of previous opinion pieces by Ms. Jackson and so I instinctively knew I was unlikely to agree with her. I was right.
I’ll begin by saying that insofar as her factual statements go, I have no quarrel with Ms. Jackson. As she says, “many Americans stayed up late into the night of Nov. 8-9, to learn the outcome of the election.” I was one of them. As Ms. Jackson also correctly points out, “Donald Trump won the Electoral College vote, whereas Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.”
As it happens, we now know that Ms. Clinton received over 2 million more votes than Mr. Trump, which is more than four times the number of popular votes that Al Gore received in 2000 when he likewise won the popular vote, but barely lost to George W. Bush in the Electoral College.
As Ms. Jackson further correctly states, “During the course of the next several nights, thousands of unhappy voters took to the streets of major cities across the country to protest the outcome of the election.” Ms. Jackson quoted Fox “News” (a notoriously right-wing agenda-driven network), which inaccurately characterized the protests as “left wing intolerance forced upon the conservatives by President Obama and his corrupt administration.” What a load of rubbish!
The protesters did not take to the street at the behest of President Obama or anyone else in his administration, nor because they were intolerant but rather, because they are alarmed. And why are they alarmed? Because thanks to Trump’s own juvenile behavior and his own hateful statements, they have every reason to believe that the incoming administration is going to be intolerant toward them.
When Trump supporters say they want to “make America great again” or “take our country back,” it seems pretty clear to me that what they mean is that they wish take our country back to the 1950s or earlier; to an America that until recently I believed we had long ago left behind us; an America where racial injustice, misogyny, homophobia and intolerance of new ideas and mistrust of anything that did not benefit old white guys like me was the order of the day.
It is easy for Ms. Jackson to say that the 53-percent of Americans who did not vote for Donald Trump should “just face reality” because “the Electoral College … is the law of the land.” That may be true but just because something is law doesn’t make it right. There used to be laws in this state that required black people to sit in the back of buses and laws that forbade them from going to the same schools, or using the same restrooms, or drinking from the same water fountains as white people. I am old enough to remember those things. They were also lawful. But they were not right.
I wonder how Ms. Jackson would feel if the shoe were on the other foot; if Donald Trump had lost in the Electoral College but won the popular vote. Would she and all the other Trump supporters just sit and take it quietly? I doubt it.
Thanks to the Electoral College, there have been four times in our country’s history when the winner became the loser and the loser the winner. In every case, in 1876, 1888, 2000, and 2016, a Republican took the prize even though it was clear that more people wanted the Democrat. What makes it all the worse on this most recent occasion is that the last time it happened was only 16 years ago, and then, as now, the man who ascended to the presidency was a man who was neither fit for nor deserving of the high office he came to occupy.
We all know the disaster that resulted from the election, or should I say “selection,” of George W. Bush. When Bush and Gore debated in 2000, they were asked what they would do with the surplus that the federal government was then enjoying (i.e., they were taking in more money than they were spending). Gore said he would use it to pay down the national debt, which had declined during the Clinton years but was still quite substantial. Bush said he would give tax cuts.
Well, Bush did give tax cuts, with the help of a Republican-dominated Congress, and then he fought two unnecessary wars on a credit card, so to speak. The second war, the war in Iraq, was particularly egregious because it was based on the lie that Iraq had “weapons-of-mass destruction” that they intended to use them against us, and the strong suggestion by Bush and his staffers that somehow Iraq had something to do with 9/11 (which of course, it didn’t). Then we had the financial meltdown of Wall Street and the “Great Recession,” which began under Bush and lasted for years. And then, after Barack Obama took office, Republicans had the temerity to blame him for the burgeoning national debt!
Bush also turned his back on human-induced climate change. Al Gore certainly would not have done so. Trump has said he thinks it is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese and Vice President-elect Pence thinks that “intelligent design,” rather than Darwin’s theory of evolution, “provides the only even remotely rational explanation for the known universe.” Are these the sort of people we want making decisions that will affect not only Americans but also people all over the world? I know I don’t.
Unless the presidential electors do the right thing on Dec. 19 and vote for the person who the majority of the electorate wanted to be president, come next year we are going to again be stuck with a Republican president who has proven time and again he is neither fit for nor deserving of that high office, as well as a Congress and a Supreme Court controlled by Republicans.
The last time Republicans controlled all three branches of government was during the Bush years and look what happened. Republicans also controlled all three branches from 1921 to 1931. The result then was the widespread suffering of the Great Depression.
Ms. Jackson says that with Trump in office, “Change is on the way.” That may be true, but with the Republicans in the saddle again, it is not going to be the sort of change that most Americans will welcome. Mark my words: The people who voted for Trump will come to regret it. It’s just too bad that all the rest of us are being forced to join them on what I predict will be a very rough ride.
—Dr. Steven R. Butler, Adjunct Professor of History