I feel like I’m in mourning. The presidency has been taken by a con man and we all deserve better – those he’s duped as well as the rest of us.
- Trump was “elected” by an “electoral college” system designed in the 18th century to protect slaveowners by augmenting their votes with 3/5 of their slaves.
- He was “elected” by a Court unwilling to protect the voting rights of all American citizens.
- As in 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote but George Bush became President, the 2016 popular vote went to Mrs. Clinton. President Bush proceeded to make colossal mistakes in foreign affairs for which this country will spend a century paying.
- Trump was elected with the votes of people who had suffered financially over the past two decades – but they voted for the very people who refused to lift a finger to provide jobs, people who don’t believe government should do anything, including good and important things, and for whom blocking anything Obama wanted to do was more important than helping fellow Americans. With Republicans benefitting from that cynical and deceitful strategy they are back in control of Congress. Good luck to the coal miners, autoworkers, steelworkers and others – they’ll need it.
- We will now have a dirty old man in the White House as a “role model” for the worst behavior toward women.
- And his rhetoric threatens to take apart the signal achievement of America – our mutual respect across faith, national origins, class, race, and counting – an achievement central to the status and future of the very people who voted for hate.
I am worried, crestfallen and embarrassed. What is there to do?
First, I have become a supporter of Supreme Court term limits. Rehnquist spent 34 years at the Court, Stevens 35, Scalia 30 and Thomas has been there 25. Erwin Chemerinsky, widely respected dean at the University of California at Irvine School of Law wrote:
The idea is that each justice would be appointed for an 18-year, non-renewable term. A vacancy thus would occur every two years. Vacancies that occur through resignation or death would be filled by appointing someone to serve the unfinished part of the term.
That way the Court would not be dominated by political decisions made decades ago.
Second, I would not confirm any new justice until there is agreement to reverse the decision that allowed states to monkey with their election rules to disenfranchise voters, and until there is agreement to adopt one of the mathematical rules that precisely measure gerrymandering, the level of favoritism to either party – known as symmetry or wasted voters. Some will object that those decisions are for the justices. Nonsense – the appointments clause is the political check and those decisions put the justices’ prejudices ahead of self-government and assured Republican victories, roles no judge should be playing. Those decisions were partisan, self-serving and should be ruled unconstitutional.
Third, we need to get across to people that refusing to vote because there is someone else we like better is a very bad choice because it has very bad consequences. In a democracy, to live and work together we have to be willing to compromise. It’s part of the deal.
Finally, we need to organize. 2018 is two years away and Congress will be at stake again. True patriots don’t give up.
— This commentary was broadcast on WAMC Northeast Report, Nov. 15, 2016.