Earlier this week, members of the Electoral College completed the formality of electing Donald Trump. There were rumblings of attempts to persuade electors to vote “their” conscience and reject Trump, but no such movement actually came to be and Donald Trump was elected 45th president of the United States.
I did not support Donald Trump for President at all. In fact, I felt his election was bad for minorities, for women, for the economy and for our relationships with nations abroad. As an advocate for free market principles, his stances on eminent domain and his proposed restrictions on free trade were troubling. But my level of concern on those issues paled in comparison to how I felt about his attitudes towards Muslims and Latinos – nowhere close to the prestige of the office for which he was campaigning.
But he won the election, fair and square, and I get it. In fact, there is no mistaking that sea of red with only a few boxes of blue on our election result maps.
Understandably, many have struggled to accept this reality and do not get it. Protests across the nation, appeals and threats to electors in the Electoral College and even a move by some in blue states to leave the union (try saying Califrexit without getting tongue-tied) just miss the point. All of a sudden, there are calls to abolish the electoral college altogether, as if the rules were not revealed to Trump detractors until the morning after Clinton got swept in flyover Rust Belt swing states. Yes, Russian meddling is a big deal, but it only revealed a truth that was already present. While Russian selective interference is a problem, I have just as much heartburn knowing a major media outlet and political party bosses attempted to tip the scales in favor of a candidate during an election.
Instead of bemoaning the rules, blaming Russians (for revealing corruption that already existed) and looking for avenues to circumvent the election results, Trump detractors need to think about what this election really meant.
We all have to understand what happened on Election Day. The fact that there are two Americas is now unavoidable. How does sidestepping the will of the people (as defined by the Constitution) help to bring us back together again? Instead, we should all take a step back and ask how so many people thought Donald Trump was the answer. Yes, pundits gave lip service to understanding the “white working class,” but what does that really mean?
Trump voters voted the way they did for several reasons. Unlike what the Michael Moores and Barbra Streisands of the world will tell you, everyone that voted Trump is not a white nationalist. Some felt left behind by our 21st century global economy, with only platitudes from either party to fill the gaps of jobs long gone. Some Trump voters saw both political parties as self-serving. Parties just do not understand Main Street Middle America but fly over it to attend high-priced fundraisers on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley or in Hollywood, only to descend on places like Midland, MI when it is time to seek votes.
The last thing to do now is ignore the message that so many of these Americans sent last November. If it was one of economic misery and pain, we need to collectively understand how certain policies leave behind those who are not thriving in this 21st century economy. If it was one rejecting “politics as usual” we need to collectively make sure the special interests and “backroom deals” that ail our politics are washed away.
The last thing to do is dismiss all of these voices as misogynist racists that suffer from islamophobia and use that as a license to dodge the message they sent in November. That is intellectually dishonest. Far worse is using that as a license to advocate for anything other than a peaceful transition of power in January, which serves nobody except the politicians that thrive on division.
The opportunity here is to engage those who think differently and understand how we – together – make America work for everyone.
Perhaps then we can make sure so many people do not have to revert to another Donald Trump as their only voice.
Graphic from Huffington Post