Time To Move On
Some of the text in this post were taken directly from letters to the editor published in the Opinion section of the 11/14/16 Tennessean [Page A12]. As I read those letters and considered not only their content but their overall tone relative to letters published in that and other publications in the days since the election, I felt a level of confirmation of my plan for this last of seven daily post in the series I entitled The Aftermath. This post is also the last in what could be viewed as a fifteen-day series that included a seven-post “countdown-style” series [Down the Stretch] leading up to the election followed by a post on Election Day and then by this “count-up-style” Aftermath series. My plan for this post is to indicate where, on balance, we appear to be at this point after the most bizarre presidential campaign in my memory and possibly in our nation’s history.
The general tone of these opinion letters tracked pretty closely with the general tone I’ve been seeing in my week-long intentionally-more-than-average daily consumption of media content for several days now — less loser temper tantrums and winner gloats and more “get a grip” and “time to move on” content. It’ll take at least some display of maturity in the media [a very big uphill climb, I admit!], with less headline chasing for newspapers and “This just in …” for radio and television, but I expect that will happen as a little more time goes by.
A good thing about letters to editor is that they have to be short, so there’s less bloviating and more to-the-point content in them. This one would be ballyhooed by some who’d label me as a dogmatic bigot for quoting it, but it captured pretty well how I think most Americans who voted for Trump feel: “America is angry and sick and tired of being misrepresented by the press and career politicians. Instead of protesting in the streets and burning buildings, we elected a new President. Hopefully, we can … rebuild respect for our nation and reset our moral compass. By this, I mean that not everything is okay as long as I don’t hurt anyone. There is right and wrong. If you get your feelings hurt every now and then, get over it. The media and politicians need to stop stoking the flames of racism as well. Stop dividing the nation as Latinos or African Americans or the new one: uneducated white men. We are all Americans! … There will have to be change in all parts and not everyone will be happy”.
Here’s another: “President-elect Donald Trump used a coalition of Democrats, Independents and Republicans, along with a well-organized, comprehensive ground game to win the presidency. Trump was a non-PC candidate who promised to protect our national borders, vet immigrants coming from nations with militant Islamic problems, bring businesses and manufacturing back to our country, and uphold the Constitution. He spoke to the many millions of individuals who feel they were being ignored. But, just as important, the Democrats have for the last eight years contributed to their own collapse. Barack Obama’s legacy is one of divisiveness and an ultra-left-wing agenda achieved in part through over-reaching, unconstitutional executive orders. Under his watch, they have seen their loss of both the U.S. House and Senate, most governors and a large majority of state legislatures. The president’s signature socialist achievement, Obamacare, is falling apart. Hillary Clinton was seen as an uninspiring continuation of the failed Obama legacy. But worse for her, her many scandals and lies came back to haunt her. Finally, the elitists in the media attempted to cover up the Obama/Clinton train wreck and it was obvious. Overt partisanship in the left-wing media only served to backfire on the very Democrats for whom they were cheer-leading”.
In all, there were nine letters, eight of which were election-related. Four of those expressed what could be called the “winners’ view” and four expressed what could be called the “losers’ view”. I didn’t quote the latter category here because they were still “in the weeds” and didn’t show the same level of perspective as the ones I quoted. They did, however, use less divisive and derogatory terminology than letters the first day or two after Election Day, and they had more of a “Let’s pick up the pieces and figure out how to <get back into power, in so many words>” tone.
On the Opinion page [A12] in today’s Tennessean, one letter lamented the ills of the Electoral college, but this one seemed to me to be the best argument for it [partial quote, after the writer briefly reviewed some 1770s history]: “There was intense debate over what was fair representation for the people of each state. That’s how we came up with the two senators for each State and varying numbers of representatives in the House. This way, no one state or small group of states that have the largest population can impose their will on the rest of the States. The Electoral College is the same concept. If we only used the popular vote to determine the Presidential election, you might as well let the 10 or 12 most populated states on the East and West coasts hold the election. The rest of the states would rarely if ever have a say in the outcome of the election. Donald Trump won the Electoral College and he also won 30 out of 50 States. The majority of States voted yes to Donald Trump. We are a union of states in a democracy and each state had its vote represented in the election”. The county-level [rather than state-level, which is misleading] map at the top of this post says pretty clearly that we don’t have a “minority-elected” President.
I should also point out that the Tennessean is an extremely liberal newspaper, but I thought the editorial about the election in the 11/13/16 edition [page H1] was very balanced and well-written. I’ll close with some of the text from that editorial, with which I wholeheartedly agree:
“The road to healing begins by accepting reality. Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election and will be the 45th president of the United States of America on Jan. 20, 2017. Americans can rejoice that the 219-year-old tradition of peaceful transition of power in the U.S. will occur anew. President-elect Trump showed graciousness and humility in victory and Secretary Hillary Clinton did so in defeat. … Now, it is up to citizens in their communities to begin the process of healing and coming together. This can be done by reaffirming our commitment to the values and freedoms endowed by [our] state and national constitutions, by facing each other even if we voted differently, and by having difficult, respectful conversations about how to move ahead. … We heal by listening first to one another. We should focus on what we have in common. [We need] prayer [and] positive activism, [and we need to] think globally [and] act locally. This last one is very important and calls on Americans to be more engaged than ever in civic life, from decisions on where to build sidewalks to what happens to our health care system. The elected officials at all levels, from president to mayor, are not our masters; they are the people’s servants. Now is the time for courage, for unity of purpose and for summoning the intentionality to sustain and strengthen our democracy. We Americans are capable of this and so much more. We are all the United States of America.”
I’ll go back now to posting more or less weekly, with my first post next week offering some “where, if anywhere, to go from here” thoughts.
Charles M. Jones