Politics has always had an ugly side. Although we often feel like we are living through the worst of it, it has clearly been really awful at other times also. CNN had a great piece during the Trump-Clinton election showing some of the awful things candidates said about each other. The current climate includes some of this, and plenty of name calling (our President excels in this artform), but what bothers me the most isn’t the attacks between those individuals, but the blanket demonization of people who vote a certain way or another. Both sides get blame for this, but circumstances seem to be having an impact on republicans (at this moment) more than democrats. I’m not saying that things couldn’t be reversed, and democrats would be the ones to talk about here, but right now, in current politics, the republicans are worthy of some attention. Specifically, I’m talking about what’s happening in Alabama and the continued support of the GOP candidate for Senate. For the party leaders, and many of their voters, democrats are so awful, and so evil, and so wrong for the country, that they would prefer to side with Moore, in spite of all the dirt that’s been unearthed about him, than let a democrat win the seat.
The day is here. President-Elect Trump will become President Trump, and President Obama’s time in office will end. I honestly do not know which makes me more sad. The Obama administration has not been perfect, but they’ve done a pretty great job with lots of things. Perhaps one of their biggest failures was not being able to garner the recognition for many of the things they did. The rise of the right-leaning blogs, and websites like World Net Daily and Breitbart didn’t make that task any easier, but irrespective of the reasons, it was undoubtedly a problem.
The Obama administration oversaw some amazing things, many of them cultural, and it seems clear that the election of Trump was a push back against that. So, as much as I am sad to see Obama leave office, I am equally sad that voters pushed back against all he has accomplished. But, as much as this day is about that push back, for me it’s a whole lot of nostalgia for a president who I deeply adored, perhaps more than I will adore any other president in my lifetime.
Elections like this, and like the election in 2000, when the popular vote winner is not the same as the electoral vote winner, make people stop and think about the system we have. I have had quite a few discussions about this over the past month, and I am moved by the arguments in favor of the electoral college. Some say it’s antiquated, and that it was a system designed to give more power to states with high slave populations, but without giving slaves the right to vote. True or not, I accept the premise of why the electoral college is important today: it gives a voice to the small states, and helps make sure they are heard. This has been spun as a benefit to republicans, but the evidence supporting that isn’t very strong.
I spend a fair amount of time on FaceBook, and I keep a pretty diverse group of friends, so I get to hear lots of different perspectives. I have quite a few friends who are just not happy with the election. They don’t like the choices, and they think the whole thing is messed up. When people say they have to vote for the lesser of two evils, I have a tendency to feel like this says more about the nomination from the party that person is more likely to vote for, than it says about both candidates (read more here), but there are nevertheless plenty of people who just despise both choices, especially this year. When I think about the people who aren’t happy, some of them dislike the candidates as people (Hillary is a crook, Trump is a pig, etc), but I’ve been friends, at least on FaceBook, with others for long enough that I get the sense they will never be happy, with any candidate, unless that candidate fits their hopes/dreams/values/desires perfectly. It makes me wonder if we’re expecting a bit too much…maybe spoiled by modern society.
My Facebook feed is full of people who are dissatisfied with the election options. Meme after meme pokes fun at the candidates and the options the voters have this presidential election cycle. “I don’t think America should elect any president in 2016. We need to be single for a few years and find ourselves,” is one that I find amusing.
I find this one is a bit more offensive, but I get the point.
Here’s my problem with all of this: It doesn’t matter what anybody thinks of BOTH candidates. What matters the most is what each person thinks of one of them. That is ALL that matters.
I’m not a historian, and I don’t know one well enough to ask, but it seems like the illegitimate president is a modern trend. Even if we’ve had one or two before, my guess is that we haven’t had three, could be four, in a row. What do I mean by an illegitimate president? A president who a large swath of Americans reject as the legitimate president because of one thing or another. Clinton, failed to get a majority of the vote. Bush, had a presidency that was decided by a Supreme Court case (which, in my non-legal expert opinion, was decided against the ideology of every single Justice on the bench). Obama’s citizenship, or fraudulent citizenship, made him illegitimate, and now, the election is rigged, so if Clinton wins, her presidency will have the illegitimate label also. Let’s look at each of these in a rational manner.
My wife has enormous influence on me. I listen to whatever she says, and am often convinced to change my view, at least slightly, because of something she said. On the twentieth anniversary of our marriage (today, August 3rd, 2016), it is, therefore, appropriate to write a brief note about a recent change in my thinking about the 2016 elections.
This change is a good one; good in the sense that it lets me live my life feeling less disgust for other people. That makes me happy, because feeling disgust for anything is not pleasant in any way. So what changed? My view of Trump voters.