By Kwame Salter
Democrats, after winning the White House the last two presidential elections, thought they had formed a more perfect union — among and between its Obama coalition — of voters who would carry Hillary Clinton into both history and the White House in 2016.
However, political machinations, an electorate ready for change, and an internecine primary campaign that pitted two baby boomers with diametrically opposing views, contributed to creating a political upset few believed was possible.
Donald Trump won despite his so-called character issues, lack of political acumen and penchant for appealing to our "lesser angels." Trump, the ultimate "insider," won because he convinced enough people that he was an "outsider." People, identified as "white working class," expressed that they felt abandoned and exploited.
Trump rode his image as a take-no-prisoners, no-nonsense businessman and media star to the highest office in our country. In a real sense, at 70 years of age, he played the game like a millennial. He exuded a sense of entitlement and narcissism that many took as characteristic of a bold and needed leadership style for America to survive and prosper.
The self-identified working class white voters opted for an (alleged) multi-billionaire who admitted to being an expert at "working the system" to his benefit; rating women on their physical attributes; promoting religious intolerance as necessary to ensure our way of life and safety; painting all undocumented Mexicans as rapists and thugs; and claiming he was "smarter than all the generals." He can say the most outrageous things from his Twitter bully pulpit only to have an army of talking heads and spin masters tell us that he didn't mean what he just tweeted. But don't underestimate the white working class — they may be angry, we're told, but they are not stupid.
Given the shock, revulsion and anger that so many Hillary and Bernie supporters evidenced after the election, a pathway must be found for them to accept the fact that Donald F. Trump is the POTUS (President of the United States). I want to help. Therefore, I would offer some suggestions. The following, when viewed holistically, can function as a "Trump Survival Kit":
7 steps to living under a Trump presidency
1. Avoid pity parties: Put simply, avoid the temptation to continue commiserating with like-minded friends, strangers and family members while incessantly going over how undeserving Trump is to be POTUS. Constantly complaining about who didn't do what and what an awful decision the Electoral College made will not reverse the election results. In fact, pity parties will cause one to become more agitated and depressed.
2. Stay active in local politics: It is a truism that all politics is local. Trump's victory should inspire and re-ignite involvement in local politics. During local, county and state elections, you will find candidates attempting to adopt the Trump approach to campaigning. These local, county and state office candidates represent the pipeline of future political leaders and influencers. Be informed, vigilant and vocal.
3. Talk and listen to the Trump voters: Not all the people voting for Trump were racists, low informed or "deplorable." Many had previously voted for President Obama; others had not voted in prior elections. Listen, without predetermined conclusions, to the reasons they give for voting for Trump. Ask them what they specifically liked and didn't like about Trump — both the man and the candidate. Try to figure out what their primary reason was for voting for Trump. Listen without judgment. Avoid debating or belittling them.
4. Use your media voice: Even though Hillary lost the Electoral College vote, you did not lose your voice. Use all forms of media — digital and print — to monitor, critique and comment on Trump's administration. In other words, "keep him honest." Intelligent and fact-based letters to the editor, along with blogs, Facebook and Twitter, reach and can influence a lot of people both directly and indirectly.
5. Plan for mid-term elections: Granted, the big prize of POTUS was lost. However, our constitutional government is made up of three branches: Executive, Legislative and Judicial. Every two years, there is an opportunity to correct the course of the Legislative branch. Our system of government has checks and balances built in to ensure that the will of the people is ultimately realized. Get out and support the candidates you believe have your best interests at heart. Use the mid-term elections as a referendum, if necessary.
6. Support the office of POTUS: Even if you can never see yourself supporting the incumbent, do support and respect the office of President of the United States. While respect is often a one-way street in politics, it is, nonetheless, a precondition — if we want to continue the peaceful transition of power we're so proud of and which serves as an example to the world.
7. Trust the process: Our system of government, while not perfect, still serves as the Lighthouse of Democracy for the world. No one man or woman can easily pre-empt the Constitutional process. Demagogues, fascists and new-age populists who seek to divide have a very short shelf life in our form of Constitutional government.
In summary, democracy is not a "spectator sport." Just because your party or candidate doesn't win is no excuse to take yourself out of the game.
Answer Book 2016
To view the full print edition of the Wednesday Journal 2016 Answer Book, please click here.
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