11 November 2016

The Rules

I have recovered enough to address the election.

I am still afraid of what this buffoon will do as President, but he is my President-elect  and I need to give him room to be that. I respectfully suggest we all do.  It’s the rules. And it’s important we live by the rules as long as we can. We broke the rules in 1776, and that was okay because they were not our rules. The breach in 1861 was not okay and we are still suffering from that. To a certain extent this election still reflects some of those strains.

This campaign has been far more depressing than any I have witnessed in my voting lifetime. I accept the notion of one winner no matter how close the election--I entered a voting booth for the first time in 1948 and we did not know until the next day that Harry Truman beat Tom Dewey. There have been lots of other squeakers in our history. A good thing if you look at the big picture.  And this is certainly not the first where the popular vote winner was the loser. It’s the price we paid in 1787 to create “a more perfect Union,’’ and it was worthwhile.

But this is the first fact-free election I have witnessed. There was no floor to the depths of intentional inaccuracy.  While both candidates made statements that were inaccurate, as I see it the Trump forces brazenly adopted the “big lie” approach and got away with it. And the growing prominence of the internet and “social media” played a major role in propagation of the falsehoods. Want back-up for any statement at all? Simple, just “look at the internet” and you will find lots of “proof” that Hillary is sick, she personally destroyed 33,000 emails, the Clinton Foundation is crooked and she and Bill stole money from it, the Mexicans are rapists, Obama is a muslim who was born in Kenya, blah, blah, blah.  How do you combat that? I have no idea, and it sure is frightening.

And you can’t blame the First Amendment for the freedom to lie about stuff. While candidates in the United States are Constitutionally free to mislead, there’s lots of worldwide non-First-Amendment precedent for lying. Just recently, the Brexit vote was based on colossal falsehoods, and the chief proponent of that misinformation campaign is now even part of the British government. Then there’s Germany in the 30’s and the master of that BIg Lie campaign went on to head a government that caused worldwide chaos and death. No, I do not equate Trump with Hitler, but for sure some of his followers are very scary, and that includes people very high up in his campaign. The ability to make something up and spread it like oil on the waters that comprise public discourse is a problem for which I see no solution beyond an intelligent and cynical electorate. (Ironically, that was one of the purposes of the establishment of the electoral college,--to put the election in the hands of the elite.)

So what do we do now?  I am not sure, but I have strong views on what we should not be doing.  We should not be engaging in violent demonstrations. When I see pictures of people fighting with police, burning the flag, etc, I want to ask each and every one of them, “So, did you volunteer to ring doorbells in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Michigan?  Did you give money to Hillary, whether it was $5 or $500?  Did you show up at campaign headquarters to sweep the floor, make phone calls, hang posters, put up lawn signs? Did you even vote? If you did not do all of the above, stop bitching, this is your fault, you chose this candidate and you didn’t do what was necessary to see that she won, under the rules. So it’s on you.

A friend just sent me an email that purports to be from Change.org.  It says there are already several million signatures on a petition urging Trump electors to vote for Hillary, and argues there is no Constitutional bar to such action. I am not sure that internet posting is genuine, but it is a stunningly bad idea. We elected this guy, under our rules. And we elected a Republican House and a Republican Senate under the same set of rules. Wanna change that too? Burn some cars? Yeah, that’ll help.

Want to change the rules? Amend the Constitution? Knock yourself out. But focus your efforts on a prospective change, please. Ya can’t change the Constitution any other way. Changing it retrospectively means the end of our rules, which means the end of our Democracy.

So we gotta stop whining, suck it up, and do what needs to be done to change things.  How many times during this campaign have you heard friends say, “Well, I’ll hold my nose and vote for Hillary,” or “Boy, are we lucky she’s running against Donald Trump., because if she were running against Romney, or McCain, or Kasich, etc, she would be killed.”  While I didn’t agree that Hillary was flawed, it’s pretty clear lots of Democrats and undecided voters did. So we underestimated Trump, but we also underestimated the country’s distrust of Mrs. Clinton. For sure, Comey fucked up, but let’s face it, so did Hillary, and so did we.

The same Constitution that established the electoral college also established the opportunity to change a significant component of the government every two years. Think maybe it's time to seek out some candidates who can win?  Gotta stop whining and go to work. Lesson learned.

A bientot.