An Historic Election

1412547827484_wps_30_the_iconic_lady_liberty_iOn Tuesday America elected Donald Trump to be the 45th President of the United States. An historically divided public elected an historically uninformed, historically unprepared, historically unqualified and an historically unpopular man to occupy The Oval Office. It happened because the public ignored an historically long list of gaffes, insults, lies, mistakes, and scandals. His voters ignored all the evidence that highlighted over and over again his lack of fitness for the office. They ignored his temperament. They ignored his dishonesty. They ignored his lack of principles.

I don’t lay all the blame at the feet of Trump’s constituents, of course. Hillary was a candidate saddled with her own unique set of problems. She was further damaged by a primary opponent who continued to fight for a nomination that could never be his, all the while sowing seeds of division amongst the left that never fully healed. There is quite a bit of evidence that many of Senator Sanders supporters failed to follow his advice and instead wasted their vote on third party candidates or write-ins. Most of the margins of victory that Trump enjoyed in the swing states could have been erased if just a portion of the Johnson and Stein vote had chosen Hillary instead. I can understand if you don’t like Hillary Clinton personally, but what you get instead is not Bernie Sanders. It’s Donald Trump. Congratulations.

The press also has responsibility for this result. They spent more combined airtime and column inches on Hillary’s email problem than all policy items combined. I know that it was a juicy story, and I know that Hillary’s camp handled it badly, but what about foreign policy? What about health care policy? What about justice reform? What about Taxes and infrastructure spending? What about Social Security and Medicare? What about Education? Instead of endlessly obsessing about the latest leak from the FBI or the State Department, why not push Donald on explaining his economic vision, pursuing his thoughts on environmental policy or forcing him to explain his plan to help veterans. We know less about the policies of Donald Trump than any other President-Elect in history. It might not have turned the election, but it was still their responsibility to inform the public about the important issues, not just repeat gossip and innuendo.

Finally, I have to blame the Republican Party and the modern conservative movement. This disaster began with them. It began long before Trump decided to run. It started with the right wing media conditioning its audience for years to reject all mainstream media outlets and their fact-based reporting and instead accept the daily doses of anger, angst, and resentment that is foundational to the conservative entertainment complex. The Republican Party tapped into this toxic stew of right-wing fantasies and rage to prop up a party that had long ago disconnected from its base. By the time Donald Trump glided down that escalator, the Republican Party had become an empty vessel waiting to be filled by the rantings of a candidate that was uniquely suited to activate a disappointed and disillusioned electorate.

Trump became the hero, the savior, the messiah to a constituency who was tired of the Republican Party lying to them, ignoring them and using them. He was going to be the one that fixed all their problems and ‘Make America Great Again’. He was going to sweep away all the electoral failures and finally take their country back from the liberals, the minorities, and the corrupt politicians from both parties. Forget that he couldn’t tell you how he was going to do it. Forget the fact that he had been a Democrat until only a few years ago. Forget the fact that he didn’t have a thimble’s full understanding of conservative history, thought or ideology. Forget the fact that he was a loudmouth, insensitive, insulting, crass individual who attacked veterans, minorities, women, Muslims and more. All of that didn’t matter because the Republican Party wasn’t strong enough to stand up to him. They had already given in to the rage, and the resentment that fueled his candidacy. They had abandoned ideas for sound bites, forsaken policy for political expediency and mistaken punditry for statesmanship. By following an obstructionist agenda, they prioritized tearing things down instead of building things up. By pursuing voter suppression and immigration policies, they were already rapidly turning into an all white party. By indulging in Donald Trump’s shameful campaign to question the citizenship of our nation’s first black President, they gave into many of their constituency’s racist tendencies. By the time he was ready to declare his candidacy, it was too late to stop him. The Republican Party was trapped. They couldn’t denounce his anger, angst, resentment and racism without alienating his supporters. Trump didn’t win the nomination of the Republican Party; he acquired it like a hostile takeover of a bankrupt company. The party of Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and William F. Buckley was gone. The party of George W. Bush, John McCain, and Mitt Romney was gone. In its place was Trump, Trumpism and Trumpsters. This was now the party of Roger Ailes, Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, Steve Bannon, David Duke, and Alex Jones.

Now, I have friends who are Republicans and conservatives. I know that they do not believe many of the same things that Donald Trump believes. I know that they do not condone his behavior. I know that they were embarrassed more than once during this campaign. I don’t know who they voted for. I did not ask. I hope that they chose not to ignore all of his earth shattering faults. I hope that they didn’t rationalize away his bad behavior, his temperament or his lack of understanding of the issues.  I hope they found another way to exercise their franchise than voting for a bully, a misogynist, and a cretin. On this subject, I will practice a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. What’s past is past. What’s done is done. Now we all have to live with the consequences.

I am personally nauseous at the thought of having him as our President. I am scared of what he might do over the next four years with health care, the environment, The Supreme Court, and foreign policy. I have little faith in our country or the world being better off four years from now. There are a million things each day that will test a President’s character. Not everybody who sits in The Oval Office lives up to its awesome responsibility. When trouble comes, does Donald Trump have what it takes? Everything I have seen so far says no. Let’s all hope that his time in office doesn’t end up being an historic failure and let us hope that his failure doesn’t turn into an historic disaster for us all.

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About Mike Burns

For years I was a self described independent. I liked the idea that America was built on the powerful idea of compromise. Politics at its best was an exercise in give and take that at least tried to be respectful of both sides of an issue. However, since the rise of right wing talk radio and Fox News, this no longer seems possible. For me, it is time to fight back in my small way. The conservatives have had their way with the truth for too long without enough of us standing up and saying no more lies. Maybe this blog will make a small difference, maybe not. The main thing is that it will satisfy my need to speak out against conservative hate and hypocrisy. Mike Burns Google+

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