As we well know now, the Impeachment Trial for Donald J. Trump ended on Saturday with 57 votes to convict and 43 votes to acquit. Since 67 votes (a two-thirds majority) were required to convict him, Trump is not held accountable for his actions in fomenting an insurrection culminating in an attack on the Capitol building on 6 January, 2021. A shameful day for our country.
My schedule in these days of a pandemic was such that I could watch or at least listen to most of the proceedings. I am not an attorney, but I learned a lot about various interpretations of the Constitution and about legal concepts. Foremost in my education was understanding the term “but for.” In this case, it was clear that but for Trump, there would have been no Big Lie, no campaign to overturn a free and fair election, and no attack on the Capitol. Take Trump out of the equation — say he did not exist or more realistically, was not president or a candidate for president — and there is no attack. Period. It is unimaginable that any other presidential candidate would have provoked the same attempted coup that Trump undertook. Today, I am not so sure that it couldn’t happen again in the future. A smarter, more knowledgeable future losing candidate might be able to pull it off, especially if that candidate is aided and abetted by key election officials and members of the House and Senate.
Most disappointing during the week were the spineless votes cast on the single Article of Impeachment. Of the 43 Republicans that voted “not guilty” I would say that some — those in the Sedition Caucus — would have voted for Trump regardless of anything that he did. They voted to acquit not from fear, not from an appreciation of his policies, but rather for pure personal power reasons. Their sworn oaths of office are just words to them, not a solemn promise that protects our country. I would put six or seven of the Republican Senators in this category. The others mostly voted to acquit, in my opinion, out of fear. Some out of political fear that they might lose their job, some out of personal fear given the nature of the domestic terrorist threat that saturates Trump’s supporters, and some out of fear that their colleagues might criticize them. Some could possibly be found in all of those camps. What was galling was that immediately after the vote, many of the “not guilty” crowd came to the Senate floor to give speeches that point to the fact that they did think that Trump was the inciter-in-chief, but they let him off on a technicality. Pick your copout — as there were several — but the most common was that a former official could not be tried by the Senate. Once out of office, impeachment does not apply.
There are several things wrong with that approach. Foremost, of course, is that Trump was impeached while in office. When the House tried to convey the Article of Impeachment to the Senate, then Majority Leader Mitch McConnell adjourned the Senate so that the Article could not be delivered. It was out of session until the Inauguration. Remember that, because it will come up again. If it is possible for common sense to be a factor, it is logical that a president or other official subject to impeachment under the Constitution cannot commit a “high crime and misdemeanor” and then resign and get out of a conviction. Indeed, there are precedents in our own history where people were tried by the Senate after they left office.
As I understand it from my Constitutional Law 101 course watching the proceedings, the Founding Fathers left the rules and procedures for impeachment and subsequent trial rather vague. In this case, well over 100 Constitutional scholars of all political stripes opined that the Senate sets its own rules for the trial and that most certainly a president can be tried after he leaves office for offenses that took place while in office. Prior to the actual trial, this issue came up. In a bipartisan vote, the Senate voted 56-44 that it was Constitutional to hold the trial. That should have settled the matter and the presumption moving forward should be that the Constitutionality of the trial is not a factor when rendering a verdict. But then, in this day and age, and especially in Trump World, rules do not seem to matter.
The shamelessness of the 43 can best be epitomized by the speech that Senator McConnell gave immediately after the vote. He hung his “not guilty” vote on his claim that the trial was un-Constitutional. He did so by claiming that the House did not deliver the Article of Impeachment in a timely manner. (See above. Hypocrisy, you’ve found a home.) He did so even after the majority of his speech condemned Trump and his actions in great detail and said that “there is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” Whaaat? It appears the Mr. McConnell may have wanted to vote to convict. He probably would have brought more Republican Senators along with him by voting to convict, possibly even reaching the 67 vote threshold. But he would not have been with the majority in his own party and thus would not be the Republican Leader. His decision to acquit was a pure personal power move. He likes being his party’s leader. There were only a few profiles in courage that day.
What are the takeaways from this episode? I have a few that I discerned from the proceedings.
- There are no impeachable offenses. Two precedents have been set with Trump. You can try and get a foreign power to intervene in our elections and not be held accountable. Was the Ukraine case too complicated, arcane, or insignificant for you? Okay, how about Obstruction of Congress? Obstruction of Justice? Trump dodged all of those. But attempting to overthrow the government of the United States? That’s not an impeachable offense? If a president attempting a coup is not worthy of a conviction on that charge, then I am hard pressed to think what would be worthy.
- It is okay to use violence to try and overturn an election. In fact, if you lose and don’t like it you can use any means necessary to over turn it. Bully election officials. Lie. Threaten state officials. Lie. Disenfranchise millions of Americans and nullify their votes. Lie. Ignore election laws. Lie. Send a mob to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College vote. If someone in your administration — say, the Vice President of the United States — doesn’t help you overturn the election then send white supremacists to track him down and hang him. (“Hang Mike Pence. Hang Mike Pence.” I hope all of those loyal Trumpists in the Sedition Caucus took notice of what loyalty gets you with Trump.) Violence is okay if you don’t win the vote and you can do anything you can think of to try and change it.
- The minority rules. The conservative political observer David Frum wrote a very interesting article in The Atlantic titled “The Founders Were Wrong About Democracy”. In it he argues that the Founding Fathers thought that by setting up the government so that head strong populist charlatans could not hoodwink the American public into wild and self-defeating actions, they would create a stable and enduring republic. They specifically did not want a true democracy because they did not trust the vast unwashed, uneducated, and ill-informed average American (all white men, by the way) to do the right thing. But what we have now is a minority (Republicans) that control nearly every aspect of government by their ability to block actions favored by the majority of the people.
- The Electoral College exacerbates the problem of minority rule and aids hooligans like Trump in their attempts to thwart the votes of the majority. Trump lost the popular vote by over 3 million ballots in 2016. He got about 46 percent of the vote. As the math shows, that it is less than Al Gore, John Kerry and Mitt Romney got when they lost. There were other even closer elections. Trump did not win in a “landslide.” In 2020 he lost by over 7 million popular votes. In the current era that is a landslide. It is too big of a number to overcome. So where did Trump focus his efforts? He focused on states to try and get them to change their Electoral College votes. Where did he focus his efforts in Congress? On the certification of the Electoral College vote. He was hoping to throw the election into the House of Representatives where, although the Democrats have the majority, the vote would be by state, and the Republicans control the most state delegations. One state one vote. Thus South Dakota gets the same vote as California. We can see that the Electoral College is vulnerable. It is an anachronistic vestige of another time.
It was a near miss. Trump came closer to pulling it off than I think most people realize. Despite the hand-wringing over Trump’s acquittal and the jubilation of the Seditionists and Trumpists (mostly all the same folks), Trump is an injured power broker. He is soon to be engulfed in significant legal challenges that are not ignorable now that he is an ex-president.
For the moment, I rejoice in having a competent president, addressing the nation’s crises. Best of all I don’t have to hear about Twitter attacks, Big Lie rallies, or see a failed showman suck up all the air whenever he shows his face. In fact, I don’t think I’ve seen the face of the twice impeached worse president ever in weeks. And I sleep a lot better at night as a result.
I hope we learn the lessons of these past weeks and months. The system is not perfect. It can be broken. We need to address the issues that were exposed and close the legal loopholes. Forgetting the past and moving forward will not work in this case. Our republic is too important to pretend that it doesn’t need fixing.
We are just over two weeks into the Biden Administration and good things are starting to happen. It isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, but we finally have a president and an administration that can competently address the health and financial crises at hand as a result of the pandemic. As the Covid-19 Relief Package moves through Congress, the administration is trying to work with the Republicans for a bipartisan bill. Unfortunately, some Republicans are using that as a weapon. The “party of no” cries foul if the bill or any other administration action is not exactly what they want. It seems that to many of them, it is only bipartisan if they approve it. The Democrats are smarter this time around. They are using Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (KY) own tactics against him. The Democrats will get a bill through and most Americans do not care about the process. They only care about results. Six months from now, when real Americans are doing better, all that they will remember is that the Democrats got it done.
Besides, why would the Biden administration want to broker a deal with a group of people whose majority still claim that Trump won the election and not President Joe Biden? The president and majority leaders should make it a condition of any talks that the purveyors of the Big Lie come out and formally and forcefully admit that President Biden won. By a lot.
Instead, many Republicans in Congress would rather divide the country by pushing conspiracy theories and fantastical lies about doctored voting machines and other foolishness. Regrettably, millions of people believe it. More on that in moment.
As a result, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last week put out a Domestic Violence Extremists (DVE) Advisory. It is effective now and the advisory lasts until 30 April 2021. It says in part,
“Information suggests that some ideologically-motivated violent extremists with objections to the exercise of governmental authority and the presidential transition, as well as other perceived grievances fueled by false narratives, could continue to mobilize to incite or commit violence.”
It then goes on to say,
“Throughout 2020, Domestic Violent Extremists (DVEs) targeted individuals with opposing views engaged in First Amendment-protected, non-violent protest activity. DVEs motivated by a range of issues, including anger over COVID-19 restrictions, the 2020 election results, and police use of force have plotted and on occasion carried out attacks against government facilities.”
Doesn’t that match well with what Trump and many Republicans in Congress are saying? It also matches Q-Anon and other radical right wing extremists. The Advisory notes that these extremists are “emboldened” by the events at the Capitol on 6 January. And yet, the propagation of the Big Lie continues.
The new face of the Republican Party is Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor-Greene from Georgia. She should be a back bench freshman with no influence in the caucus. She should especially have no influence because of her nutty Q-Anon beliefs such as that the school shootings in Florida and Connecticut were fake, fires in California were caused by Jewish space lasers, and she condones threats of violence against prominent Democrats, to name a few of her public pronouncements. It is her First Amendment right to think and say whatever she wants about Jewish space lasers and the like, and such comments can be ignored as the rantings of a nut case. The threat of violence against a president, the Speaker of the House and others cannot be ignored or sloughed off as silly. They especially cannot be ignored when she is now in close contact with those same people. Yet, only weeks after other adherents of those crazy ideas attacked the Capitol, the Republicans would not discipline her.
Why are they afraid of her? Because she is a disciple of Trump. She is like a Trump Mini-me espousing many of the lies that Trump bombarded us with for four years. The Republican Party does not want to do anything to upset Trump’s, or Taylor-Greene’s supporters. Many are one and the same.
Representative Taylor-Greene is part of the enemy within, as Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (CA) said the other day. Just as with the cliche in many horror movies, the threatening phone calls are coming from inside the house. She is not alone. Another Q-Anon sympathizer is freshman Congresswoman Lauren Boebert from Colorado who supports many of their conspiracies. Representatives Mo Brooks (ALA), Paul Gosar (AR) and Pete Sessions (TX) helped to organize the Trump rally on 6 January and spoke to the crowd. Representative Brooks told them to “start taking down names and kicking ass.”
The Big Lie continues to be a dominate issue in the United States. Those that believe the election was stolen — the right wingers and Q-Anons of the world — feel that they have no recourse or say about the changes taking place in society. If ballots are stolen, changed or stuffed, then the elections are rigged. If they are rigged, then they feel that they have no avenue for their causes except through violence. Thus, violence is likely to continue and we get advisories like those above from DHS.
I am baffled as to why elected Republicans still so staunchly support Trump. There are no excuses. Trump being Trump no longer works. They cannot justify supporting him because of tax cuts, or federal judges, or anything else they applauded him for doing. Yet, they are still all in. Trump will not be held accountable in the Senate next week. As a result, he will gain more power. They all know that he is guilty, but most Republican Senators will weasel out of convicting him by arguing that the “process” is un-Constitutional.
Senator Lindsey Graham (SC) gave away the real reason last week. Speaking of Trump and why most Republicans will vote against conviction, he said “We cannot take the House and Senate back without his help. That’s just a fact.” In other words, politics once again trumps holding an ex-president accountable for his actions that resulted in deaths at the Capitol. In fact, just the opposite is happening. All around the country Republican Party state and local committees are censuring any Republican that did not support Trump, either in the election or through the impeachment vote. Some of those censored includes people who were never in office, such as Mrs. Cindy McCain.
I thought that by now Trump would have crawled back to Florida to become an irrelevant player in today’s more hopeful society. I fear I am wrong. The Republicans had a chance following the attack on the Capitol to make a clean break with the man and his divisive, mean-spirited methods and policies. Instead, Lindsey Graham is talking about how much they need him. The spineless House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA) made a special trip to the castle-by-the-sea to go on bended knee before the king and kiss his shoes. They totally caved. Now they expect everyone to “move on” from an attempt to overthrow the government. Most Americans will not move on. We certainly will not forget that Trump and numerous Republicans in Congress sold the Big Lie so well, that it lead to an attempted coup.
This is a battle for our country’s soul. I am not sure we have a functioning two-party system anymore. Democrats have their flaws, but they are now the party working hard to restore and maintain the norms of our democracy. The other party — whatever we should call it — has a majority of members in Congress that just want to tear everything down, undo any election they do not win, and install an autocrat as president. Apparently, they are willing to use any means necessary to do that. Lies. Violence. Anything. Republicans have brought the Proud Boys, Q-Anon, Boogaloo Bois (Boys), white supremacists and conspiracy theorists into the mainstream. They are afraid to call them out because it will cost them votes. They are being held hostage by self-projected fear in some cases. In other cases, I think some in Congress see those groups as their allies.
We cannot talk about bipartisanship, progress, or unity until this is resolved. We do not negotiate with terrorists. Those people, in or out of office, must be held to account.
Little did we know when Donald J. Trump delivered his inaugural address four years ago that when he spoke of “American Carnage” he was setting an aspirational goal. He succeeded.
We have 400,000 dead Americans thanks to his incompetence and indifference to putting measures in place across the country that could have effectively stopped or certainly slowed the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. In days, we will pass the number of Americans killed in World War II. Before it is over, we have a shot at surpassing the 675,000 Americans lost in the 1918 flu pandemic. What a proud record.
Trump fomented racial division and supervised the rise of white nationalist and other supremacist groups throughout the country. Where these groups existed in the shadows in the past, they are now front and center in American politics and a threat to many of us who despise their values. We have Q-Anon believers as Members of Congress. We have governors as the focus of kidnap plots to try them for “treason” because Trump told them to take back their state from the “tyranny” of having to wear a mask and social distance. As he said after the “Unite the Right Rally” in Charlottesville in 2017 that resulted in fighting in the streets and the death of a counter-protester, “there were good people on both sides.” A clear signal to those groups that he supported them. He further encouraged them with his statement in the fall debates in front of a national audience when he said to the Proud Boys, “Stand down and stand by.”
The list can go on and on. I often wonder how one person and one administration can be so incompetent, uncaring, feckless and destructive. One has to work hard to cause as much mayhem as Trump has created. I cannot help but sometimes think that given his relationship with Vladimir Putin that perhaps Trump did work hard at causing so much trouble and nearly causing our country to collapse under the weight of his singular focus on working only for his own power and riches.
His crowning achievement for the title of the Worst President Ever came two weeks ago when he attempted to overthrow the government. As we learn more and more about the events surrounding the attack on the capitol on 6 January, we come to realize that it was a very close thing for the survival of our republic and our system of government. Organized groups were, it seems, ready to kidnap and probably kill Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Other Senators and Representatives barely escaped the mob’s wrath and probably would have been severely injured or killed if the mob had gotten to them. In my view, if the seditious mob had succeeded in destroying the legislative branch of our government, I have no doubt that Trump would have accepted the result and used it to keep himself in the presidency. As we now know, the mob missed their targets by less than a minute. It surely would have been a horrific blood bath as the Secret Service would have fought to protect the Vice President and the mob would have reacted with even greater fury. We were so lucky as a nation. As it was, the “peaceful demonstrators” beat a police officer to death and their actions resulted in four others dying at the capitol during the melee.
Their blood is on Trump’s hands as it is on the rest of the Sedition Coalition made up of a few “Republican” Senators and over two-thirds of the “Republican” Congressmen and Congresswomen that voted to overturn the most fair and free election in the history of our country. (But don’t take my word for that last statement. It was so judged by those in Trump’s Administration tasked with protecting the election, confirmed by the Attorney General, reinforced by states throughout the country led by both Republicans and Democrats, and upheld by over 60 court cases that were dismissed or laughed out of court for their frivolousness and remarkable lack of evidence.)
It is the lowlight of the Bizzaro world that we lived in over the last four years.
Now called “The Big Lie” by many, it was a concerted effort — months if not years in the making — for Trump and his soulless allies to make millions of Americans think that the election was rigged, or unfair or otherwise set up to deny Trump his “landslide” win. It really started in 2016 when Trump shouted from the rooftops that the election was rigged in Secretary Hillary Clinton’s favor. Even he was amazed when he won. None-the-less, he claimed that he lost the popular vote because of fraud. He created a commission to look into voter fraud and to find the fake votes. You may remember that the commission quietly stopped its work a few months after its creation because they were unable to find any evidence of any fraud that changed the outcome.
Throughout 2020, Trump claimed that the only way he could lose was if the election was rigged and massive fraud occurred. Rally after rally, speech after speech he spewed this same lie over and over. Millions of his followers believed him. His enablers and cohorts in Congress reiterated the same message. And now we are here.
Even as I write this piece, Trump has yet to admit that President-elect Joe Biden won the election. Trump goes home a loser in every way possible. Likewise, his accomplices in the Senate and House refuse to acknowledge that the 46th president was duly elected by the will of over 81 million Americans. Shameful. Somehow they stick to their blind loyalty to Trump out of fear of some political or personal retribution. They pledge their true faith and allegiance to a wannabe dictator rather than to the Constitution of the United States. They disgrace their oath and their personal honor. If Trump is such a political “kingmaker” then please explain how the Republicans, during his watch, lost the House, the Senate and the presidency. Some kingmaker. I hope they do as well into the future.
The consequences of their seditious actions and continued defiance will be felt long after the inauguration tomorrow. Those same seditious Representatives and Senators — and other elected Trumpists — claim that to try Trump after his impeachment would be “divisive.” They argue that it is now the duty of Democrats and President-to-be Biden to bring unity to the country — this as they continue to argue that the election was not valid. It would be laughable if it were not so dangerous. The pure unmitigated gall of these people! Do they think that all Americans are so gullible or short-sighted or fooled by their sleight of hand? Apparently. Or do they have further plans to rile up the Trump base to wreak further havoc on our republic?
At this moment, news reports indicate that some of these “patriot” lawmakers are seeking pardons from the president to absolve themselves of responsibility in the attacks. If this happens, they surely must be removed from the Senate. Such shining examples of leadership they are!
Try them all! Trump should be convicted in the Senate for his crimes against the state. The counts in the indictment could have been volumes long, but the House leadership wisely focused on his seditious actions in sending a mob to destroy the capitol. It cannot stand without punishment. I know there are numerous arguments pro and con about doing so — along with Constitutional concerns that have yet to be tested in court — but I cannot imagine that his actions over the months leading up to the insurrection should be allowed to go unpunished. Think of the precedent. A president can foment any illegal act that he or she desires near the end of their presidency and feel perfectly comfortable that they will get away with it. If no one is above the law in the United States of America then a president cannot pardon himself and he is liable for impeachment and conviction for actions in office even after they leave. The president wouldn’t even have to wait until the end of a term. Commit any impeachable offense and then resign with the knowledge that in this case, actions do not have consequences. It seems no different than retired military officers who are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) for the rest of their lives.
I cannot believe that we can begin to heal until those that fomented the attacks on our fragile state are held accountable. The FBI and other agencies are tracking down and charging the domestic terrorists that stormed the capital. Those that encouraged them to take those actions should be equally accountable. Senators that voted against verifying the Electoral College results should be censored and removed if they don’t resign, but they most certainly will not. If criminal charges are appropriate under the law, they should be held to account. Likewise with the roughly 147 Representatives that voted not to verify the results. Remember, these votes came after the attack on the capitol.
Tomorrow is a new day. Thankfully. President Biden has a huge job ahead of him. It will not be easy to conquer the pandemic, restore the economy, re-establish our leadership role in international affairs and accomplish all the other tasks ahead needed to clean up the mess Trump leaves behind, all while those that he must work with continue to push the canard that he is an illegitimate president. It could take years to undo the damage. Only with the help of those on the right side of history can he succeed. I trust that like many former members of cults, once his followers no longer have to drink the Kool-Aid of divisiveness, grievance and lies that they will come to their senses and help to restore the America we thought we knew. Some will. Some will not. As an optimist, I hope that more will than will not.
It will not be an easy road. We have a long way to go. Bringing those that sought to intentionally destroy our country to justice will help us to make our way. They must all enjoy the full consequences of their actions to the fullest extent of the law. This includes an ex-president and his family.
On to a new chapter in our history!
At a time when we should be looking ahead to the good times coming in 2021, we find that there is significant danger in the coming weeks as Donald J. Trump continues to act like a mob boss and actively work to overturn the results of the election that he lost by over seven million votes. The very foundation of our democracy is under continuing attack as the president, members of the Senate and the House and scores of white nationalists, Q-Anon conspiracists and others attempt to overthrow the duly elected incoming president and vice-president. This is the most dangerous attack on our national values and core principles since at least 1860.
In the last twenty-four hours we experienced the spectacle of Mr. Trump calling the Secretary of State of Georgia to tell him to “find” enough votes to give the state’s electors to him. As reported in the Washington Post, and captured on audio given to the reporters, he wailed, threatened, whined and cajoled the Georgia officials for over an hour. The president wants them to “reexamine” the results, “with people that want to find answers, not people who don’t want to find answers.” In other words, fabricate new results. He repeatedly complained that “there’s no way I lost Georgia. There’s no way. We won by hundreds of thousands of votes.” In fact, he lost by 11,779. There were three recounts. The state legislature certified the vote. The Republican governor certified it.
Mr. Trump’s efforts could be criminal. They certainly are immoral and unethical. But then what do we expect from the worst president ever that will leave the White House as an impeached one-term president?
Meanwhile in the Congress, the Sedition Caucus of about 140 Trumpist Representatives and twelve Trumpist Senators will object to the certification of the Electoral College votes. As explained by Senator Josh Hawley (MO), he wants the allegations of fraud in Pennsylvania investigated. He says he owes it to the 74 million voters for Mr. Trump who “are not going to shut up” and must have their concerns addressed. Which, of course, ignores the 81 million people that voted for Mr. Biden that he wants to disenfranchise. Equally despicable is the effort led by the Chief Sedition Officer of the group Senator Ted Cruz (TX). He wanted to argue a case against certifying the election in the Supreme Court and is now organizing his fellow rebels without a cause to try and create a special commission to look into the “unprecedented allegations of election fraud, violations, and lax enforcement of election law and other voting irregularities.” He argues that the commission will “significantly enhance the legitimacy of whoever becomes our next president.” Nice. Note that their plan, as with all of their other “facts” are merely allegations. No one has produced any evidence of any activity that would change the results of the election. NONE. The Trump campaign lost over 60 cases in appearances before judges in multiple states including many judges that were appointed by Mr. Trump. Twice the Supreme Court turned them away. States conducted as many as three recounts with no findings of any significant issues. The person from the Department of Homeland Security, in charge of making sure our elections were secure, appointed by Mr. Trump, said that this was the most secure election in our history. Attorney General William Barr, appointed by Mr. Trump and who acted like his personal attorney, said that there was no fraud. There is no “whoever becomes our president” because only one person won the election and the other one is going to Florida.
What we really have, is a significant group of elected officials that apparently believe that if their candidate did not win, then we should disenfranchise millions of Americans and overturn the election. We have elected officials that put loyalty to the leader of a cult above the oath that they swore to the Constitution. That is the bottom line. Think about that. They are more loyal to one man than to our country. That man demands loyalty and they cave like a child’s cardboard box in a hurricane. Thank goodness there are still some patriots in the president’s party that recognize that we are a nation of laws and who will not go along with the coup.
I cannot emphasize enough how abominable their actions are. This is a full-on attempt to undermine our democracy. Period. Yes, they are making money off of this. Yes, they think that this will help them get re-elected. Yes, they are playing to the Trump base. It is still an attempt to overturn a free and fair election.
Additional danger comes from Mr. Trump’s detestable effort to stir up trouble in Washington D.C. He is calling for his supporters to come to a “wild protest” on 6 January, the same day that Congress is required to open the official Electoral College votes to certify the election. On Friday another member of the Sedition Caucus lost yet another attempt in court to overturn the election and called for “violence in the streets” to block Mr. Biden from becoming president. I trust that the FBI will be visiting Congressman Louie Gohmert (TX). Groups are calling for turning the national mall into “an armed camp.” The Proud Boys and other extreme white nationalist groups claim that they will have thousands of members on the streets. Some have threatened to keep members of Congress from getting to the capitol building to vote. It will be a dangerous time.
We have four years until the next presidential election. A serious bipartisan effort is needed to review every aspect of our system of voting from how we vote, to how we train poll workers, to reviewing whether a ranking system is a better way to elect our officials to doing away with the Electoral College or at least standardizing the way electors are chosen. We certainly need to close legal loopholes that allow state legislatures or the Congress to change the expressed will of the voters. It is a near miss this time. We cannot be sanguine that all will go well in the future.
I look forward to the vote on Wednesday, however many hours it may be delayed by objections or protesters or any other reason. Mr. Biden will be president on 20 January. History will record the names of those that sought to overthrow a duly elected president of the United States and install an avowed autocrat. To me, their actions are seditious if not treasonous. I will leave it to attorneys and constitutional scholars to sort that out. The bottom line is that they want to destroy our country by destroying our right to vote.
The best news for the coming year is that as of 21 January, we don’t have to give a damn about anything the orange menace has to say.
First, the good news. Vaccines to combat the pandemic are on the way. They are successful and people seem to be taking the shots. Let us all celebrate these holidays in our own way. Merry Christmas! Happy Chanukah! Enjoy Kwanza! Happy Festivus! And stay safe.
Unfortunately, the real world raises its ugly head in the form of a bin full of cartoon characters that are trying to destroy our country. In any other context it would be known as treason or sedition. Last night the worst president ever and impeached one-term president put out another of his rambling screeds about the election in a video once again shot at the White House at taxpayers’ expense. He also pardoned or commuted the sentences of 20 of his bedfellows including convicted war criminals that killed fourteen innocent Iraqi civilians and includes rotten politicians and businessmen that scammed the public for lots of money. You know, his kind of people. He also threatened to veto the stimulus relief and government funding bills (it isn’t clear that he understands that they were wrapped together and that there are different provisions in each).
Before I could post this piece, in a fit of pique because of some relatively minor provisions, Mr. Trump vetoed the massive defense spending bill. The bill originally passed with bicameral and bipartisan support sufficient to override his veto. However, the bill must pass before the new Congress forms on 3 January 2021 or they will have to start over.
All of that is more work than he has done in weeks if not months. He has given up on the pandemic entirely. Not one word from the president as we pass 320,000 Americans dead. His only nod in that direction in weeks was to warn journalists away from giving any credit for the vaccine or its distribution to the incoming administration.
So what to make of all that? Should we worry or just shake it off and hold our breath until President-elect Joe Biden takes office?
Let’s address them in reverse order. By declaring the Covid-19 relief package a “disgrace” he did a terrific political favor for the Democrats. They have been pushing for increased payments to suffering Americans since May. When Mr. Trump declared he would accept nothing less than $2,000 for each recipient, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi jumped right in and offered an amendment to the just passed bill to add that in. Since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell really only allowed the bill to go to the floor to help his Senators in Georgia claim that they were looking out for the state’s citizens, he finds himself in a dilemma. He and many of his party did not want any kind of individual payments. The current $600 payment was a fig leaf meant to sound good but of little use to most Americans in financial distress. Now his party must decide for the first time in memory whether to support the president or vote against the increased payment and unmask the fact that his party really does not want to help the economy at all. They can look more hypocritical than usual, put it on record that they really don’t want to help the economy, bring down the wrath of Trump on their heads or use some legislative legerdemain to avoid the whole thing. Perhaps all of the above. To me, Mr. Trump has no real interest in any of these bills be they Covid relief or funding the military. He is angry and wants to upset the apple cart and make some kind of point to Congressional Republicans that they must be loyal to him and support his efforts to overturn the election, or he will make life very hard for them.
Mr. Trump continues to break all of the norms. Whenever we think that we have hit rock bottom, he shows us that there is no bottom. This is true of many of his actions, but it was demonstrated clearly with his latest round of pardons. The list of twenty includes three jailed Congressmen, Medicare scammers and others with connections to Mr. Trump or his influential friends. A few were convicted on drug charges that resulted in excessive sentences. Two pleaded guilty following the Mueller investigation and reflect Mr. Trump’s efforts to undo everything connected with that inquiry. The most troubling pardons were for the four military contractors working for the now defunct Blackwater security company who killed seventeen people in the Nusoor Square traffic circle in Baghdad. During their trial, they were convicted of killing fourteen of them including women and children and wounding many more. The first to open fire was sentenced to life in prison. This follows a pattern for letting convicted war criminals out of prison when they are politically connected or a Fox News personality takes an interest in the story. In this case, Pete Hegseth, a favorite of Mr. Trump on Fox News, advocated for them. Blackwater was founded by Erik Prince, another Trump advocate, and he is the brother of Betsy DeVos the current Secretary of Education.
As we see the way Mr. Trump’s mind works, and following reports that he plans to award a blanket pardon to himself and his family, one wonders how far this could go. Is it possible for a president to order the killing of a political rival and then pardon the killer and himself? This was something I would never ever have thought about in the past, but we now know that Mr. Trump will use any loophole or power at his disposal to benefit himself. The next Congress should take a hard look at this unfettered Constitutional power to see if it can be codified in a way that allows for some form of oversight for preventing its abuse.
We are now in Never Never Land with the outrageous lies surrounding the election results. Multiple news sources report that Mr. Trump is shutting out even his most fervent and loyal advisers and instead listening only to a bunch of crackpots that are pushing all kinds of theories as to how to over turn the election that Mr. Trump lost in a fair and open way. Perhaps the most despicable of all of these crackpot advisers is Michael Flynn, the former Army Lieutenant General and National Security Adviser who confessed twice to lying to the FBI about his dealings with Russia. He is advocating the imposition of martial law and having the Army re-run the election in the swing states that Mr. Trump lost. By all accounts Mr. Flynn (I cannot in good conscience call him “general” anymore) was an outstanding military officer and leader. He served in Afghanistan and Iraq. I am bewildered as to what happened to him but now he is a certified nut job. He should also remember that retired military officers (they are still being paid by the government as opposed to veterans who did not serve a full career) are subject to recall to active duty at any time and are thus still prosecutable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). He should look up Article 94 pertaining to mutiny and sedition.
Worse still are the 126 Members of Congress that sought to join a case before the Supreme Court in an attempt to over turn the election in four states that went for Mr. Biden. The Court threw out the case hours after the briefing was completed. (Interestingly in this Through the Looking Glass world, several of those petitioning the court were from the states that they wanted overturned. Does that mean, by their own argument, that they should not be seated when the new Congress forms in January?) None-the-less, they are persisting. There is now a plan to protest each of the Electoral College slates from six swing states when the results are to be certified by Congress on 6 January 2021. The House has enough members pledged to mount the challenge (it only takes one), but while several Senators have toyed with the idea, none have yet to come out and say that they will do it. The closest Senator to do so is the Senator-elect from Alabama. Tommy Tuberville, the former football coach, thinks it is a viable idea. Of course Mr. Tuberville also thinks the three branches of government are “you know, the House, the Senate, and the Executive.” (Maybe we should have our elected officials take the naturalized citizen civics test.) Again, they only need one and via Twitter (where else) Mr. Trump seems to think he will be the guy.
There are a number of scenarios that could play out once the slates are challenged. One includes Vice President Pence as President of the Senate substituting the “alternative” Electors put forward in several states in place of the official certified slates of Electors. As much as Mr. Pence does whatever his boss wants him to, with little to no thought as to how ethical it may be, it is a stretch for him to even consider doing such a thing and in the end, it would not work anyway. Mr. Biden will be certified has having won the election.
The point is that there are elected officials of the United States that are actively trying to over turn an election and install Donald J. Trump as dictator, Dear Leader, autocrat, whatever it is that they think he will be for them. This is a direct and threatening assault on our democracy. We need to hold these people accountable. Many news organizations have published the names of the House Members that supported over turning the election. We need to throw the bums out at the first opportunity. By the way, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy forfeited his right to ever be the Speaker of the House regardless of any turnover of the House to Republicans because of his active role in trying to overthrow the duly elected future 46th President of the United States.
In fact, I hope that the attempt to overrule the American people does go to a vote. I want it on record for all to see and for history to note, who those elected officials are that think that loyalty to one man is more important than upholding their oath to support and defend the Constitution.
More worrisome for me than these Congressional shameful shenanigans is that Mr. Trump is becoming increasingly desperate and unhinged. Serious consideration should be given to invoking the 25th Amendment. I am serious and this is a serious issue. Mr. Trump is not a well man. Surrounded by others that have seemingly lost their grip on reality, all kinds of bad things can happen. So far our democracy has survived this very severe stress test. We have identified weak areas and laws that need to be strengthened, but we came closer to losing our democracy than I think most people recognize. It was not a sure thing. Thank goodness we had state and local officials willing to stand up to the bully in the White House. We may not have those same good people in the future. Now is the time to strengthen our democracy against future wannabe despots.
In the meantime we have about four more weeks to go. Despite all the public hand wringing, I think that a year from now Mr. Trump will be fully in the rear view mirror and fading into history. I do not see him as a force in the future. Meantime, we need to get through this transition period. I am not sanguine about this period. Mr. Trump and his cultists can still cause a lot of mischief before he leaves. We need to keep our guard up and our focus on the future.
I for one am looking forward to the new year.
On 27 February 1933 the German Reichstag (parliament) building burned down. The cause of the fire is still not definitively known, but the Nazis are suspected of setting it. They then were able to exploit the situation by claiming that the Communists were behind it as the beginning of an uprising to overthrow the government. They convinced President Paul von Hindenburg to allow the Nazis under Chancellor Adolf Hitler to issue an emergency decree the following day. Popularly known as the Reichstag Fire Decree it allowed the suspension of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and allowed for the arrest of political opponents, the dissolving of political organizations, the ability to overrule state and local laws and the power to overthrow state and local governments, among other rights previously enjoyed in Germany. The following month the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act of 1933 effectively making Adolf Hitler a dictator.
Thankfully, we are not in such dire straits here in the United States. But we are inching ever closer to a total collapse of our democracy. As I mentioned in my last posting, the Texas Attorney General brought a suit to the Supreme Court asking the court to throw out the entirety of the ballots cast in Michigan, Wisconsin, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Oddly, it seems that the only election problems in the country are in swing states that Mr. Trump lost. The desired effect would be that Donald J. Trump then becomes president for another term. (And I will say more than one if this gambit succeeds.) Legal experts far and wide declared such a lawsuit a total travesty and predicted that the Supreme Court will not take the case.
I hope that the experts are correct, but even if they are, very un-American developments indicate further trouble ahead.
In the past few days, seventeen other states joined the suit supporting the Texas claim. Six others are in the process of joining. As of this writing, 106 of the 196 “Republican” members of the House have signed on to officially support the suit in court. This includes the Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Trumpist – CA). Senator Ted Cruz (Trumpist – TX) volunteered to argue the case before the Court.
Think about that for a minute. Nearly half of the state Attorneys General in the United States are actively working to overturn a fair and free election and disenfranchise millions of our fellow citizens. Roughly 25% of all the members of the House and 55% of them in one of the two major parties think it wise, prudent, and legal to ignore their oath to the Constitution and instead pledge their allegiance to one man — a cult leader that wants to undo our democracy by claiming without evidence that the election was stolen from him. They explain away the lack of evidence, and the fact that “Rudy’s Travelling Circus” already lost more than 50 court cases trying to undo the election, by saying — and I wish I was kidding — that the fraud and deception was so masterful that they (whoever they are that perpetrated this heinous crime but the words “liberal socialists” comes up a lot) did not leave a single clue as to their nefarious deeds.
On Wednesday Mr. Trump himself dropped all pretense of what he was doing and moved on from claiming a fraudulent election to just plain saying that it needs to be overturned. He started the morning by Tweet saying simply “OVERTURN.”
It is just too scary. Anyone that wonders how otherwise educated populations can watch democracy get stolen and replaced by an autocrat need not wonder anymore.
So what happens when the Supreme Court throws out the suit? Your guess is as good as mine, but clearly no one in his party seems to be bothered by anything that Mr. Trump does no matter how harebrained, incredible, or illegal it may be. Mr. Trump only can take away one thing from this debacle. He can get away with anything and the majority of his party in leadership roles will support him or look the other way. He was more prophetic than we knew four years ago when Mr. Trump said that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and get away with it.
The essence of our democracy is that we fight hard for our principles and policies, but that when the election is over, we put away our differences long enough for a peaceful transition of power. We honor the results of elections. For the first time in our history since at least the election of 1860, that is not happening. There is now a stark division in our country. There are those that believe in the power of democracy (Democrats, many independents, and the remaining real Republicans) and those that believe that if the election does not turn out in your favor, you change the result through any means necessary (Trump cultists). This is how democracy ends.
I remain steadfast in my belief that Joseph Biden will be sworn in as president on 20 January 2021. However, I shudder at the damage that may be done to our country in the remaining six weeks before then. How can our government govern after January if a significant number of those in Congress refuse to recognize the legitimate transfer of power? How far will they take it? Will the Trumpists refuse to consent to Mr. Biden’s cabinet choices? Will they freeze all legislation to undermine the economy to make life as difficult as possible for the Biden Administration? The list could go on and on.
Our way of government ultimately rests on trust. Trust in our elections and their results are the foundation of our way of choosing officials and for them to govern. That trust is being deliberately threatened to suit the whims of one man. This is some bad stuff.
My reference to the Reichstag Fire is not me setting my hair on fire or yelling that the sky is falling. Not yet anyway. It does, however, have some frightening parallels to what is happening now and stands as a stark reminder that dictators and ruthless regimes don’t just show up out of nowhere. They grow from misconceptions, ruthless propaganda, and a population that goes along or chooses not to get involved.
Someone out there has a box of matches and is willing to use them. We must not let those that swore an oath to protect and defend our country give up our Constitutional rights in the name of one delusional wannabe dictator.
On Wednesday, 2,798 Americans died from Covid-19, a record at that time, which is more people than died on 11 September 2001 at the World Trade Center. On that same day, Mr. Donald J. Trump gave what he said “may be the most important speech I’ve ever made.” He did not mention anything about the pandemic. Indeed, since the election he has been mostly silent about the ongoing death toll, record rate of hospitalizations, and rampant spread of the virus except to admonish journalists not to give President-elect Biden any credit for the impending distribution of a vaccine. Only Mr. Trump should get credit.
What was so important in the speech that he gave on Wednesday? He delivered a 46 minute Facebook video (none of the news channels would carry it), produced with taxpayer money, at the White House, standing behind the seal of the President of the United States that asserted lie, after lie, after lie about the November presidential election. As always, Mr. Trump failed to provide any evidence for his outrageous claims. His was a tired reiteration of the same claims that have failed in courts across the land because there is no evidence of election fraud. Even Mr. Trump’s personal Attorney General William Barr publicly declared that there was no evidence of fraud or any other issues that would change the result of the election. And yet, he persisted. The number of lies are too many to recount here, but they focused on his view that the election was stolen from him and that it was “statistically impossible” for him to lose the election.
As always, his speech was a national embarrassment. Unpatriotic. Un-American. A direct assault on the core values of the United States. Ignorant of the Constitution. And generally despicable.
Here’s the problem. What is he going to do about it? What impact is it going to have on millions of Americans who believe him? What does it mean when he agrees with a Tweet from his disgraced, but pardoned, former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn where Mr. Flynn agrees with calls to “declare martial law,” “suspend the Constitution,” and use the United States military to carry out a “national revote”? (Sedition anyone?) What does it mean when lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, report getting more calls than they ever have received complaining about the integrity of the election?
It means we as a nation are in big trouble. Mr. Trump and his co-conspirators are doing more damage to our country than we can fully comprehend. It will take years to undo the damage and restore confidence in our voting process.
This goes way beyond letting “Trump be Trump” or pursuing recounts on close outcomes or any other “normal” efforts following an election. Simply put, Mr. Trump refuses to accept that he is a loser and will do anything, and I am afraid that I mean anything, to consolidate his power and remain in office. Many pundits predict that his whole effort to delegitimize the election will collapse after 14 December when the Electoral College officially votes. I am not convinced that we can rest easy until President-elect Biden is sworn in on 20 January as the 46th President of the United States.
Death threats have been lodged against all manner of citizens working on the election ranging from governors and state Secretaries of State down to volunteers at the polling places and counting centers. Regular citizens that took an oath and, regardless of political affiliation, have carried out those duties to the best of their ability. It is sickening to me that the president will not do the same. He also will do nothing to tone down his rhetoric and instead encourages people to move ever closer to taking the law into their own hands and installing him as a dictator. As I write those words I never thought that it could be a realistic scenario in our great country. Now my faith in my fellow Americans is shaken to the point that I cannot say with certainty that such a thing could never happen here.
I maintain only disgust and revulsion for the antics of national Republican leaders that prove daily that there is no longer a real Republican Party, only a cult of personality loyal to Donald J. Trump. Not one Republican leader in the House or Senate has yet to forcefully condemn the president’s inflammatory statements or actions. Most spread the lies themselves out of loyalty to him. No one stands up to him. The list is endless but it begins with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and continues throughout the party and is epitomized by the Trumpist Senator from Wisconsin Ron Johnson who said, following Attorney General Barr’s statement that there was no widespread fraud during the election, that he needed “proof” of the absence of proof of fraud. (Wait. What?!) That is how far our national institutions have fallen under the governance of the worst president ever.
It is this lack of fortitude, patriotism, leadership, and a belief in the Constitution that scares me the most. Mr. Trump would still attempt to use the power of the federal government for his own benefit, but if a united Republican Party stood for their own avowed principles, then in the end he would be powerless. They refuse to do so. I suppose I should not be surprised after four long years of watching them and their submissive, obsequious deferrals to his every whim, but I am still shocked at the length they will go to keep him “happy” even as he overturns everything in his path and then sets it on fire.
Our three equal branches of government are only equal if they each assert their duties as delineated in the Constitution and configured by the Founding Fathers. So far, the courts have stood up to Mr. Trump’s cockamamy efforts to overturn the election (although why they are still allowing cases to come forward without evidence is beyond me) but the Trumpists in the House and Senate steadfastly refuse to do so.
I have no idea how this will end. Tomorrow Mr. Trump goes into a tinder box of emotions in Georgia. It will likely not be pretty. I cannot imagine Mr. Trump cooling those passions. It isn’t in him to do so. The only question will be how many matches he throws into the pyre and what actions people take as a result.
Meanwhile, we cannot forget that over 100,000 Americans are hospitalized and medical authorities fear that the spike that will follow Thanksgiving has yet to show itself. We expect to have 300,000 dead from the virus by mid-December. Unemployment and other pandemic related benefits for millions of Americans end on 26 December. We are in a national crisis and there is no leadership.
America will have a very big hole to get out of in the coming year on many levels. Let’s all start with the first rule of holes: “When you’re in one, stop digging.”
Mr. Donald J. Trump continues to press the lie that he won the presidential election. Only the massive fraud, he says, perpetrated across the country by Democrats and Republicans keeps the country from realizing that he won. In the process, he is succeeding only in cementing his place in history as the worst president ever. Since the election, Mr. Trump played golf more times than he addressed the nation even as hospitals across the country are filling up, record numbers of people are hospitalized daily, and the toll from the pandemic approaches 270,000 dead Americans.
Thank goodness he will serve only one term.
In the process, he is running the biggest scam of his life. Millions of dollars in donations to his “legal defense fund” continue to pour in as he continues to whine about how the election was stolen from him. That money is largely going into Mr. Trump’s pocket. While sending countless texts and emails to his followers asking them to support his “Official Legal Defense Fund,” the fine print of those messages says that there is really a 60-40 split of money contributed. 60% goes to Mr. Trump’s “Save America” political action committee (PAC) and 40% goes to the Republican National Committee (RNC). Only after a donor contributes $8,000 or more does any of the money go to the legal defense fund. The longer he keeps up the charade that he is fighting to make every vote count, the more money he rakes in. His PAC is basically a slush fund that Mr. Trump can use legally in just about any way that he wants. So while what he is doing may be legal, once again he is lying to his supporters, feeding a narrative that our democracy is a sham, and keeping only his personal interests in mind.
This should come as no surprise from a man that told over 22,000 documented lies since entering office, ran a fake university that required him to pay $25 million to settle a law suit, and a “charity” that was little more than an account for him to use on personal expenses and cost him $2 million to settle in yet another law suit. In the latter case, the Trump Foundation was required to permanently close down and Mr. Trump and his children are restricted under the New York courts as to how they can be involved in any other charitable foundation. This is the same man that is named as “Individual 1” — an unindicted co-conspirator — in violation of election laws by paying off two women to keep quiet about their affairs. He even wrote several of the checks in the Oval Office.
He never stopped scamming us his entire time in office.
Meanwhile an article in yesterday’s Washington Post outlines the truly distressing behavior of a loser that cannot accept the fact that he was beaten, and beaten badly, in a free and fair election. According to the article, he truly believed that he would win the election and was truly confounded as to how he could lose to the man he called the worst presidential candidate in history. Since then, he has turned over the efforts to invalidate the election to Mr. Rudy Giuliani who fills his head full of stories, lies, fantasies and bizarre conspiracy theories. Apparently, Mr. Trump believes Mr. Giuliani’s phantasmagorical concoctions based in other worldly delusions. One begins to become concerned about Mr. Trump’s mental health as he continues down this path. Especially since he is still the president until 20 January.
Scammer or crackpot? Which is the real Mr. Trump? It is possible to be both. The danger is that while he plays out this delusional dream he is doing real damage to the foundation of our republic. He seems determined to burn down the place as he leaves. Just as his guiding light over the last four years was to overturn and destroy everything that President Barak Obama did, he seems equally determined to undermine the President-elect by placing roadblocks, political cronies, and poor policies in every nook and cranny of the government. Sadly, he is receiving aid, comfort, and cover by his Senate Republican enablers. Most have yet to acknowledge that Mr. Joseph Biden is the President-elect, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. There is already speculation among them that maybe they will not confirm any of Mr. Biden’s Cabinet nominees. Talk about taking a sledge hammer to democracy.
As the pandemic rages and continues to grow and the American economy lies in shambles as a result, neither the president nor the Senate is taking any action in any form to alleviate the situation. There is help on the horizon in the form of promising vaccines. Unfortunately, the logistics behind the distribution of those vaccines is extremely difficult and thus costly. As they have with every other aspect of the pandemic, the Trump Administration plans to leave it up to the individual states as to how and when to distribute the vaccine. To date, the states have received no funding to do so, even as many states are cutting public services and scrounging for every dollar to keep up with their existing requirements.
Shame on all of them. Their behavior is un-American.
Repeat after me. They. Don’t. Care. They just don’t. The situation was dire before the election. Now that Mr. Trump lost, there is no incentive whatsoever for him or the Senate to take action in the coming months. If they don’t personally benefit from doing their job, they just don’t do it. They don’t care.
Don the Con runs his scam, plays golf, whines, and does nothing. He has abdicated any responsibility to do any part of his job. Let’s just hope that nothing else endangers our democracy over the next two months.
“Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.” — Hillary Clinton in her concession speech on 9 November 2016
In her concession speech, Secretary Clinton exhibited the best of our electoral traditions and history. She lost and he won and it is time to keep an open mind about the future. Like it or not, he’s the guy.
But, man oh man, I didn’t think it would be this hard.
There is one thing that sticks in my mind as I try to get my head around the idea of a President Donald J. Trump, and that is that he is the same person on 9 November that he was on 7 November. That may not be a good thing.
So many things come to mind about the election and about the future of our country under a President Trump. I could write multiple pages, and indeed I am sure people already have and any number of books will be written about this campaign in the coming months and years. However, I won’t go into all of that now. At the same time there are a few things that I do want to mention as I, and millions of others, try to make sense of this election.
I have been around the block a few times, and have believed strongly in other candidates that lost elections. I was disappointed but did not think badly of the candidates that won. I merely disagreed with their policies compared to my candidate, but as the Rolling Stones proclaim (and apparently Mr. Trump agrees as he used it as his theme song),
“You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need.”
I am not so sure this time around.
To me, this time it is not about whether a Republican or a Democrat won or even that Secretary Clinton lost. It is that Mr. Trump won. Or at least he won the Electoral College, which in our system is all that counts. But lest we forget, for the second time in 16 years a candidate lost the election even though they won the popular vote. I will save for another time a discussion about the Electoral College. It could be anachronistic, but it is probably a good thing over all in that candidates must think about the nation as a whole, rather than individual centers of population.
So, no, it isn’t that my candidate lost. You have read in this space before about how I am confounded by Mr. Trump and his apparent lack of understanding of the important issues of our time, of the language he used while campaigning and his demonizing and/or demeaning every segment of our society save white men. That is well documented and I won’t rehash all that here. But it does have consequences.
Even though more people voted for Secretary Clinton than for Mr. Trump, I am worried that I thought the United States was something that apparently it is not. Many good people, Democrat and Republican, did not feel that Mr. Trump reflected or represented American values. What if we are wrong? What if his words and actions represent the America that we have become? That is truly chilling and worrying to me. His approach was validated. He gave validation to a worrisome fringe element in our society that now thinks it is mainstream. Before you blow a gasket, I am not inferring that all of Mr. Trump’s supporters were on the fringe. People voted for him for a vast number of reasons. But it remains a fact that his persona is not what we think of, or maybe I should say it is not what I think of, when I think of America. He took the politics of fear and anger and turned it to his personal advantage in the worst possible way. I will try to keep an open mind as his administration forms, but I will struggle to get beyond that fact.
I am particularly upset by the reaction of people close to me, and others that I have observed. Primarily women that worked in the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s in an era where sexual harassment was a part of going to work. Those women experienced some form of harassment and discrimination almost daily, worked through it, and worked very hard to change the system. To them, Mr. Trump symbolizes every male that harassed them in the work place or on the streets. The women coming of age today face a totally different work place environment than their mothers and grandmothers faced. Thankfully. Unfortunately, the election of Mr. Trump in spite of his known actions, his recorded remarks and his crude on-the-record comments seem to many of these older, experienced women, to give the green light to go back to a time where women were judged on their appearance and not on their ability. It is a very sad and difficult time for them to see Mr. Trump in the White House.
One potential positive outcome of the election is that Mr. Trump, who in reality is neither a Republican nor a Democrat but more of third-party candidate that managed to get the Republican nomination, will have his opportunity to govern with the support of a Republican controlled Congress. To all of those disaffected voters who put him in the White House, stand by. In my mind this is a domestic version of President Nixon going to China. There will be no excuses if the lot of those supporters does not improve. Mr. Trump and the Republicans are in charge. They can only blame themselves if things don’t go their way. After years of “just say no”, anger and obstructionism, they have the chance to do all of the things that they promised.
But I am extremely skeptical that they can deliver. Most jobs in the Rust Belt and elsewhere were not lost to “deals” and trade pacts. They were lost to automation and technology. They aren’t coming back. The coal industry is not coming back. Steel mills are not coming back. One industry towns are not coming back. All of the things that white working class Americans think they will now see restored are extremely unlikely to return. We cannot turn back the clock to a nostalgia tinged 1950’s era. Perhaps in the coming years when the realization sets in that none of that will ever come back again, we can move forward into the 21st Century. We don’t need to bring back the old jobs, we need to educate and train our citizens for the jobs of the future. We cannot hold out for a white dominated society, we are headed for a multi-cultural society, like it or not, and no amount of anger will change that. So, perhaps when their guy is unable to deliver the goods, people will remember those days fondly, but finally move on and face reality. Perhaps that is the positive side of Mr. Trump as our president.
I suppose a true test of how willing Mr. Trump will be to bring the nation back together again will be two-fold. First, does he reach out to all of those he has offended during his campaign, and more importantly does he send a message to those that think it is now okay to demean and demonize portions of our society and tell them that he will not accept that?
Secondly, I think we will learn a lot about the direction he intends to take the country by his cabinet nominations. He hasn’t made any yet. Will he pick serious, qualified individuals willing to do what is right for our country even if it means disagreeing with the President, or will he pick a series of sycophants and has-beens? Only time will tell, but it isn’t a good sign that many of the names floated as trial balloons so far fall into the latter category.
In the end, I hope he surprises all of us and ably and well leads our nation. If he does well, our country does well. I am willing to keep an open mind and give him a chance, but it will be a short window of opportunity for him to convince me that he can keep America great.