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After the Storm: Thoughts on the Aftermath of the American Presidential Election

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My main reasons for opposing Trump lie outside the sphere of his disqualifying personality and temperament. Rather, it is Trump’s opposition to Enlightenment values that bar him from holding any elected office. Specifically, international laws against the targeting of civilians during warfare and using torture as retributive justice are at risk of rotting alongside half-eaten taco bowls in the gastric juices of the president elect. Also at risk is the founding document of our Jeffersonian democracy—the document that is the first instantiation of Enlightenment-era thought in the practical realm of governance: the US Constitution. Trump’s threats to expand libel laws against journalists and to bar individuals from entering the US if they hold the wrong religious beliefs should give pause to those who support him because of his presumed opposition to the unconstitutional free speech stifling culture of political correctness.

But Donald Trump is now America’s president—yes, even the president of those who are currently wandering sundry US metropolises chanting “Not my president!” Upon his election, many have taken to the streets to protest the choice of half the electorate—a right that they are free to exercise. There is even a petition going around exhorting the electors to circumvent the votes of the people in their respective states. Yes, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and lost at the Electoral College. But what if the tables were turned and Trump had won the popular vote and Hillary the Electoral College? I doubt that any of the anti-Trump petitioners would be collecting signatures to get him elected. This is our system for now, and we have to respect it. If you do not agree with it, then work to change it at the political level. Prior to his victory, the same side now demanding the repeal of the Electoral College was affecting shock at Trump’s threat to not accept the results of the election were he to lose. The hypocrisy of the left is almost as disheartening as this election.

It is also of practical concern that some anti-Trump protesters seem to be playing coy with violent insurrection. Let’s assume that Trump takes office and starts implementing his deplorable policies. The prospects are dire indeed, but what of the prospects of a violent refusal to abide by the laws of the land? Already, our president elect’s itchy Twitter fingers are petulantly expressing their displeasure at the supposed conspiracy against him by the “professional protesters” out on the streets. Do these young people—and, in this case, it may be fair to attribute their naivet√© to their youth—assume that Trump will invite them to the Rose Garden and hear their grievances once he takes office? If so, I have some courses at Trump University to sell to them. Given the bombast of his campaign demagoguery, a more likely scenario is that his promise of an aggrandized police state will make its helmeted appearance even before he rests his hay-covered head on the pillows of the White House’s Master Bedroom following his inauguration.             

Witnessing this election cycle has taught most of us—perhaps even the modern-day astrologers generously referred to as “pollsters”—to not write off the improbable. In this vein, let’s assume that the electors do indeed decide to go against the wishes of the voters in their respective states and elect Hillary Clinton president. Do these signature gatherers believe that Trump’s supporters, who number almost 60,000,000 voters, will quietly go along with their fear-driven (though, in most cases, post-adolescent angst –driven) dictates? Has the prospect of a violent civil war over contested election results not occurred to them?

There is a palpable reluctance on the part of many Trump supporters to acknowledge the role of white identity politics as a contributing factor to the election of their candidate. Indeed, as much as they want to distance themselves from PC culture, the modern incarnation of their reactionary impulse is indebted to it. The lessons of what it is that has led to the election of Donald Trump are obviously lost on many who oppose him on the left. The supposed Einstein quote that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result is almost too appropriate. If ignoring what your political opponents are actually saying and repeatedly branding them with whatever epithet is currently trending on Twitter has brought about the opposite of what you were intending, perhaps it is time to implement a new strategy. Let us hope that both sides of the American divide can engage in a bit of self-reflection as they gaze across the chasm at their fellow countrymen.


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