What a stunning election result! I guess we will need to wait and see what a Donald Trump presidency will look like, especially if he is backed up by a Republican Congress, but as a person of faith and supporter of Hillary Clinton and other Democrats, I will attempt to remain positive, hopeful, and helpful.
Here are my initial thoughts just a few days after the election.
First, to those who voted for Donald Trump. If you voted for him because you and your family are hurting, especially for economic reasons, I have the utmost sympathy for, even empathy with, you. I firmly believe that the vast majority of people who voted for Trump are good people. (The so-called “deplorables” are those generally on the far right who espouse white supremacy, racism, bigotry, misogyny and the like; I hope most Americans can agree to strongly condemn their rhetoric and often violent actions.) These good people should not be demonized or ignored (and frankly I do not believe that Hillary Clinton or other progressives have done that – but more on that later). Let us assume, for argument’s sake, that most Trump voters are hard-working, ethical people trying valiantly to raise their families and live their lives. Thus, their concerns should be listened to and taken seriously – by progressives and, of course, by the new administration and Congress.
Second, to those who are mourning the presidential election results – much more for you. Many progressives and progressive organizations are already making statements and taking actions that we can note from a hopeful perspective.
- Recalling that Hillary Clinton (and, 16 years ago, Al Gore) won the popular vote but not the electoral vote, note the petition circulating now to eliminate the Electoral College. This is not a particularly difficult process.
- Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, two of the most progressive lawmakers in the country, have issued sane, balanced and patriotic statements. I am certain they will continue to give their all toward crafting a better, more inclusive nation for all citizens.
- Planned Parenthood vows to stay open, no matter what happens.
- There is great alarm among Americans who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act that the new administration will eliminate the ACA in very short order. I heard a conservative speaker on MSNBC on November 10, 2016, say that the ACA will not just be eliminated outright but will be replaced with a “better plan.” This commentator ticked off right away several ACA provisions that would be kept under this “better plan” – coverage for pre-existing conditions and the ability for children to remain on their parents’ insurance until age 26, among others. This gives me some hope; it is just up to us and progressive lawmakers to keep pressure on conservatives to prevent injury and suffering to millions of Americans at all costs.
- Protests have erupted all over the country in the wake of Trump’s election, most of them peaceful and several of them in Midwestern states such as Kansas City and Omaha. While these protests will probably not change the election results, they demonstrate to other Americans and the rest of the world that millions of us do not agree with the worst characteristics of this man. Protests are extremely important in a democratic republic, and conservatives and progressives alike should continue to honor our First Amendment rights as we go forward.
- So far, the stock market is doing well. Of course, this is a two-edged sword: much of the wealth of the market goes to top earners. However, for those of us who do have some stake in the market, a strong market helps our retirement accounts as well. I would urge Americans who do not have retirement accounts (hopefully balanced ones, managed by reputable firms) to start one, so that whatever benefits do accrue through the market can benefit you as well.
- While Republicans still control Congress, I would point out the election of two new female Senators – Tammy Duckworth in Illinois and Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire – who will add their strong progressive voices to the others (including, one might say, Sen. Susan Collins, moderate Republican from Maine, and her Independent colleague, Angus King, who caucuses with Democrats).
In addition, I would like to point out, yet again, that there are successful practices, policies and philosophies in European and other advanced nations that we can look to, learn from and attempt to implement – if not at the federal level, then at the state level (which conservatives vastly prefer). In future blog posts, we will look more at some of these initiatives and ideas, and I would urge concerned Americans to pay attention to what is going on in your state legislatures and raise your voice on issues of concern.
Finally, and briefly to the point about Hillary Clinton’s concern for Americans who have struggled for years, if not decades, I would urge readers to examine the policies she had on her campaign website for months. It is unfortunate, in my opinion, that voters may not have considered these issues before the election and/or that the media oftentimes ignored them. I would hope that some, if not many, of her proposals and those of other progressives will be seriously considered in the months and years to come.
I personally have huge misgivings about a Donald Trump presidency and a Republican-controlled Congress (not to mention the specter of a right-leaning Supreme Court). I am a natural optimist, however, and believe that our nation is resilient, that most Americans are good, generous, decent people, and that it would be extremely difficult to dismantle many of our revered and progressive traditions in a short amount of time. This is definitely the time for all of us to become (or remain) committed, informed citizens and to hold all of our elected officials accountable – to us.
God bless America!