It’s time to get over it and get on with it.
With a day to go before the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, I am awe-struck by the rancor, divisiveness and childishness on the part of some Americans over his election two months ago.
Yes, we all know the presidential election did not turn out as expected by her supporters, the national media, so-called political pundits and pollsters. And me.
Yep, I got it as wrong as everyone else did. Leading up to the election last November I wrote several columns in the Record-Herald admonishing the Republican party for nominating someone I thought was sure to lose Nov. 8. I said in those columns that the news media “beat down” on Trump would be so ferocious, so vicious and so pervasive that Trump wouldn’t carry a single state.
Imagine my surprise Election Night. But the crow I ate tasted just fine since all I really wanted was for the nominee to be anyone who would keep her out of the White House. I should publicly commend media colleague Gary Abernathy at the Hillsboro Times Gazette for his wisdom and insight (he knows a lot more about politics than I do). He got it right. He had written columns all the way up to the election saying he thought president-elect Trump would win.
While Gary and I both pointed out the extreme bias of the media across this nation toward Trump, I overestimated the impact of the relentless negative coverage Trump got in the weeks before the election, and Gary did not. Voters in Ohio and in most parts of the nation overwhelmingly voted for Trump because they were sick of Washington D.C. politics and empty promises.
What I didn’t foresee was how much the public simply ignored the negative coverage, and in many cases were fueled by it. They had grown immune to the bad press.
At least on Election Night, it was satisfying to see the smug, arrogant smirks wiped off the faces of some of the television network/cable news anchors and commentators. “Well, we sure got this wrong” they seemed to collectively say. Some, like Chris Matthews, actually did a little soul-searching. He chided himself and others for not seeing that there was a “hidden” Trump vote out there.
I thought, no, there was no “hidden” Trump vote, it was right there the whole time. You guys in the media just never looked for it.
I also wrongly believed that after Nov. 8 Democrats might also do a little soul searching as to what they did wrong in not addressing this huge part of the electorate that felt ignored and belittled by the media and politicians. Nope. The “we made mistakes” admission by Democrats lasted just a day or so.
For nearly two months the cry has been: Russia interfered with our election. Russia hacked our election. Russia hacked our democracy. Russia influenced our election. And on and on. But there was rarely clarification on exactly what the Russians allegedly did to “interfere” with our election.
So I will explain. First, no one hacked or altered the actual voting on Election Day. The “interference and influencing” of our election supposedly by the Russians was the hacking of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s emails – thousands of them. Those emails were then turned over to the whistle-blowing WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks then, in the weeks before the election, released these emails to the public. Those emails were usually unflattering to Clinton and usually reported about by the mainstream media.
It was the impact of these revelations that “influenced” the election by the Russians. Democrats and the media say that Russian President Vladimir Putin loathed Hillary Clinton (no small club there) and wanted to see her defeated. Also, they have been saying Trump and Putin are best buds and it was all a conspiracy to get the New York billionaire elected.
However, even if it was the Russians that hacked Podesta’s emails and gave them to WikiLeaks, the drumbeat that Trump’s presidency will be “illegitimate” because of the “interference” ignores the fact that the 62,979,879 Americans who voted for Trump did so for a host of reasons. I suspect the contents of the Podesta emails merely served to reinforce the negative views many voters already had of Clinton and her team.
What the Russians allegedly did might better be called “propaganda” — something not in short supply in this last election.
And as propaganda, we will never, never, never know for sure what real influence the emails released by WikiLeaks had on the election. But better to blame the Russians, FBI director James Comey, media bias (really?) and the Electoral College than the candidate herself and her overconfident campaign.
I think it is altogether possible that the Russians didn’t want Hillary Clinton to win, and may have hacked the campaign emails to hurt her chances. That is disturbing. But what if Putin hated Trump and hacked his campaign manager’s emails, then had WikiLeaks release them with embarrassing revelations? And if Trump had then lost, do you honestly think there would be this level of charges of “illegitimacy” against a president-elect Clinton? I don’t think so.
I suspect that today all of the negative coverage of the man they elected isn’t fazing Trump supporters much. Just as before the election, they probably pay no attention to all the recent charges, including the “secret dossier.”
The hurt and fragile Hollywood rich fat-cat celebrities can weep all they want and claim that this is a horrible day for America, Democrats can turn their backs on democracy and the peaceful transition of power by refusing to attend the inauguration, and the news networks and newspapers can spin all the negative headlines they want.
But come Friday at noon, many people in America will celebrate as a great event this change of power. Like it or not. I do understand the denial. I wasn’t happy eight years ago, but I got over it. Life goes on, we live in a great country, and soon new episodes of “The Walking Dead,” “Game of Thrones” and “Stranger Things” will be upon us.
I do believe the protests and demonstrations across America this weekend are good things. Protest is what our democracy is all about. But I hope the level of unreasonable divisiveness and anger will soon end; for the sake of our country and our people. Time to move on, and move forward.
Gary Brock is a resident of Fayette County and editor of Rural Life Today, monthly farming and agriculture publication.