At the time of this writing, former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, won the majority national popular vote.
Who lost? Any American citizen who ever dreamed of fulfilling the pledge to their daughters and granddaughters: “there is nothing you cannot do in this society.”
Reactions to President Obama’s tenure revealed the remnants of racism in this society. Reaction to the Clinton candidacy revealed the deep-rooted sexism existing in U.S. society. Yes, misogyny abounds in the rest of the world, but, in recent years, the U.S. made successful strides in overcoming those prejudices and dangers, well, at least until this recent campaign (anyone remember the Access Hollywood bus?)
We have many other problems in our country. One is the antiquated Electoral College. A candidate who won only a minority vote became president when George Bush was installed over his opponent who had achieved the majority vote—defying democracy. Twice in a decade and one-half is too often.
It is time to change the Constitution. Ever try explaining or justifying this system to friends or family from Mexico or any other country? Good luck. They will say”Cómo? Ganó Gore? Ganó Hillary?” They won? Then why is another person, less qualified, now your President?
So, who else lost? Oh, just countless children and students who study science, who know the statistics, the dire predictions about global warming. The President-elect, he whose name shall not be mentioned, doesn’t believe in science, nor do many (most?) of his Republican colleagues in both House and Senate. Good luck, Planet Earth.
Who else lost? Women, the majority of this country, who were on the cusp of having a very qualified woman in the White House. Antipathy to Secretary Clinton among white males was “rampant” in the campaign; 52% of white men hold a “very unfavorable” view of Clinton, a higher percentage of them viewed President Obama unfavorably in 2012 (Peter Beinart, The Atlantic, October 2016).
Even those among us who believe that experience and qualifications count, lost—lost to a candidate with no political experience. What message does that send? If you have money and, preferably, are a semi-famous TV personality, you, too, can rise to high public office, without experience, without qualifications, with only promises.
The list goes on. Did you think of some of the other losers? Yourself? Perhaps among the large Mexican American population here in south Texas, a few others? Perhaps some in your family or business associates in Mexico? Or friends or workers who are immigrants? How about those who had no health care and now do, thanks to Affordable Health Care?
That will soon be gone if T gets his way. Republicans are poised “on the first day” to revoke Affordable Health Care. T threatened to end coverage for over 20 million who didn’t have help before that law. T threatened (now retracts) to end (even for Trumpistas) protection against an insurance company taking away your insurance due to a “pre-existing condition.” T threatened (now retracts) to end the ability for your young son or daughter to benefit from your insurance. As the millennials say, OMG! Now, what else will he retract?
So, what are we saying? Certainly not “back to the future.” The future lost too. Or at least lost, for now, is a progressive future. Now, it’s back to a past where the national government may question any benefits to Latinos (except Cubans, of course, who got into the country easily, and with financial support). And what of the future for African Americans or Native Americans or almost any ethnic minority who did not support T, the candidate who came in second with a minority of the national vote on November 8, 2016?
I would submit even the minority candidate’s supporters lost. Will he be able to send them back to the coal mines in Appalachia? Will he restore auto workers’ jobs in Michigan? Very doubtful. We’ll see how well that goes for angry Trumpistas. In economic terms, I wish them well, but am dubious about his ability to improve the economy for them. Rewarding the super-rich and “Trickle-Down Economics” is not a remedy, not a reality.
Finally, for consideration today, Mexico lost. Among my recent interviews in Mexico—with all socio-economic classes—Trump (Ok, ok; I had to use his name at least once) was feared and detested by the vast majority. They even joked with that macabre Mexican dark humor: “Americans should join us in experiencing a pandering, foolish President.”
T will end NAFTA, fair trade between the U.S. and Mexico. Many Mexicans fear T will close the new Ford plant in San Luis Potosi, costing the Mexican economy thousands of jobs. (Michigan won’t gain those jobs.) Mexicans even joke “now we see the wisdom of building a wall—to keep you Americans out!”
The U.S. stock market is back, but the peso tumbled with the shocking news of T’s upset. His election “causes deep anxiety in Mexico” (Patrick J. McDonnell and Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times). Mexican humorous political cartoons and parodies of T, once clever, now don’t seem so funny to them.
Indeed, the mood, as Mexicans contemplate the future for their American neighbors and for themselves, is one of bewilderment and foreboding. Mexicans are especially concerned over his demagogic characteristics (witness T’s adoration of Putin and Russia), and over his support by the Ku Klux Klan and other Fascists within our society.
I try to reassure my family in Mexico (and myself) “all will be (mostly) well.” I had thought the Virgin of Guadalupe might be a Democrat, but it was not to be. As President Kennedy once said, “we have only our own hands [and votes] to do God’s will.” Some of those hands (in Florida?) were apparently too busy to help. Now we face the consequences.
So, who’s to blame? Oh, let me count the ways. Yes, those hands and fingers which did not vote. Yes, racists, sexists, xenophobes and religious bigots. But also the media who created T in the first place. And the pollsters who got it so very wrong. (Many didn’t vote, believing they were winning.) Let’s not leave out T, himself, cheerleader for Republicans in their racist, birther lies, thereby disrespecting President Obama and the presidency, refusing to enact any of his policies.
Also to blame: Bernie Sanders who invaded and divided a party not his own. And BS’s die-hard followers, a large number of whom apparently voted for T. And the economy. And anger, class envy and resentment. And Democrats’ sins of omission and commission with blue collar workers, ignoring “blue” states until too late. And Hillary’s real or alleged flaws. And, again, to blame, the Electoral College system, which robbed the winning majority candidate of her rightful place, robbing women of their place in history. And . . . on and on.
But the blame-game is not too helpful. Yes, Heaven help us all in these trying times. A more earthly, practical (even Biblical) way of dealing with the “worrisome lurch toward authoritarianism” is to attack inequality in America (Richard Wolin, “Prophet of Deceit,” Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 30, 2016, p. 11). Let’s start with a boost in the minimum wage (I’m an incrementalist). This would be a good goal for south Texas and for the nation. Good-hearted Americans cannot give up—will not give up.
Editor’s Note: This guest column has been edited slightly with the deletion of a paragraph at the author’s request.