2016 Election Thoughts – Part III (Petitions / Protests)

November 14, 2016

2016 Election Thoughts – Part III (Petitions / Protests)

I don’t like the petitions directed at electors, asking them to vote for Hillary Clinton because she won the popular vote. On protests, my thoughts are more complicated.

I’m devastated by the election outcome. It’s a dreadful, shameful, and downright effing scary time for me and many others! Donald Trump does not belong in the White House, and so, so much must change before reasonable people might reach different conclusions.

That all said, that Mr. Trump was not ready to acknowledge that the election was fair, as late as last Monday, is yesterday’s news. The breathless reporting about all of the defalcations too many people ignored before Election Day matters not at all. (No, the Congress won’t impeach Mr. Trump because he cheated on sales tax, big time, 30 years ago. Or income taxes. Or, even, because he defrauded Trump U students.)

(The investigations into Russia ties might change my mind. No one accepts facts anymore, but if credible evidence of treason appears, that needs to go somewhere.)

Regarding the Electoral College, Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, as amended by the 12th Amendment, spells out how it works. The petitions contemplate a different approach, by asking Republican electors to turn their backs on their party’s nominee. Ain’t gonna happen and, frankly, it shouldn’t. Voters selected Mr. Trump by overwhelming majorities in many states. Under our system those voters have a right to expect that the electors on their ballots will follow their wishes.

About protests, I’m torn. “Not my President” doesn’t work for me. The man or woman—someday, soon (if at all possible)—we elect works for all of us. That others ignored President Obama, W, Bubba, etc. justifies this attitude not even a little.

“Not my President” aside, we need energy. We need to focus on engagement, and on at least two levels. We did not have to be where we are. Too many people stayed home. That can’t happen again, ever!!! More significantly—and I credit comments I heard at a University of Arizona rally a bit ago, walking Max, for my change of heart—we need to join together because many people need us. 22,000,000 have health insurance now, who didn’t before, and might not, soon. GLBTQ people must be worried. (In an All Things Considered story Steven Bannon, who will be a Counselor to Present Trump, referred to “a bunch of dykes that came from the Seven Sisters schools up in New England.” Millions of families will be disrupted, no matter how gently the Trump Administration deals with deportations.

Now, here’s my overarching concern about petitions and protests:

On November 10 Mr. Trump tweeted—yes, he still tweets—the following message:

Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!

(That Mr. Trump praised the protesters hours later reflects nothing more than the fact that he will always cover every side of every matter.)

Others have noted that no one protested after we elected Barack Obama. I don’t recall lots of street protests, but the real protesting mattered much more. In Do Not Ask What Good We Do by Robert Draper, Mr. Draper reported on a dinner on January 20, 2009. During the Inaugural Balls, the out-of-power party leaders ate and drank at the Caucus Room. From this dinner came a series of decisions, summed up by then Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell 18 monthly later thusly: “The single most important thing we want to achieve if for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Leader McConnell’s comment reflects a protest far grander and significant than anything thousands can do in the streets, or with petitions. And, while the Republican leadership “protest” failed to accomplish its stated goal, you can draw a straight line from Republican intransigence—between 2009 and November 7, 2016—to the 2016 election result.

In President Obama’s remarks the morning after Election Day he said “we are now all rooting for [President-elect Trump’s] success in uniting and leading the country.” He’s right! Leaving aside the fact that the media has failed to compare and contrast his remarks with the actions of the Republican Congress since January 2009, the protests and petitions step on the unity message. When Mr. Trump fails—and success borders on the unimaginable—we want him to own his and his party’s failures. Petitions and protests offer him and his party an excuse they don’t deserve. So, from my vantage point, bring people together to organize and protect those who are vulnerable. Enough with “not my President.” And be safe out there.

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