Op-ed staff writer urges fellow liberals not to be saddened to point of apathy, inaction

By Nick Riebel || Staff Writer

I’m not quite sure what to say. Donald Trump will be our next president. Hillary Clinton may see a special prosecutor send her to the “big house,” rather than living in the White House. We may start building a wall on our southern border next year.

Soon enough, Roe v. Wade will be overturned, and abortion will be illegal. The same goes for marriage equality: a conservative Supreme Court, appointed by another ultra-conservative like Scalia instead of the moderate Merrick Garland (who will now never be confirmed, which was a brilliant but extraordinarily cynical move by Senate Republicans), will declare same-sex marriages unconstitutional, and all existing ones legally null and void. Obamacare will certainly be repealed, perhaps it is even likely that it will be repealed on Trump’s first day as president.

Rather than electing our first female president, there is a non-zero chance that we have elected our last president. I cannot emphasize this enough: Trump is an unstable man, and he will be in charge of our nuclear weapons, and he may very well use them. Also, given that the GOP now has total control over Congress, the presidency, soon the Supreme Court, and a historic number of governors’ mansions and state legislatures, Trump will wield total political control. Some may argue that “principled” Republicans in the House and Senate will oppose him.

First, I would ask: are there any left? I would also argue that partisanship has developed to the point that the House Republicans and Senate Republicans will generally follow his leadership whatever that may be. In addition, due to winning the presidency (he lost the popular vote, so in my opinion he did not really win, as Bush did not really win in 2000, but I digress), he has a sort of mandate, and many Republicans will go along with him due to that.

Many Republicans who did not support him, or whose support was tepid at best, may face primary challenges, or even see themselves removed from their positions. Even Paul Ryan may not survive, if the Freedom Caucus challenges his speakership.

Democrats did make modest gains in the House and Senate. And, again: Democrats won the presidency in terms of the popular vote. The electoral college is obviously obsolete and undemocratic, and abolishing it should be a top priority of the Democratic Party.

We should not doubt our progressive, liberal principles: indeed, we should double down on them. But, white working class people felt abandoned or betrayed by the party, and this must be addressed. Hillary Clinton did run a poor campaign, and in retrospect it was likely one of the worst in modern times. Perhaps a candidate who could more genuinely connect to working people would have done better. Yet speculating over whether Bernie Sanders would have won the presidency (I suspect he would have) is just idle speculation.

We need to focus on how to move forward from here. We must acknowledge that while many Trump supporters are truly vile, and deplorable, many of them, I’m sure, are good people. We need the Democrats to abandon neoliberalism, and move in a bold, leftwards direction. We need to appeal to those who elected Trump, for I suspect they may have buyer’s remorse before too long (though I wonder how they sleep at night, and deal with their conscience in making that almost certainly disastrous choice of electing that monster).

Don’t be saddened to the point of apathy and inaction over this: I want you to get mad, and get ready to fight, if you aren’t enraged and fighting already. Don’t compromise, don’t surrender; otherwise Trump will truly have won. If Trump and the Republicans are honest in reaching out and implementing good policy, only then should we cooperate. Otherwise, turnabout is fair play. The obstruction of Merrick Garland, in particular, was horribly unprecedented. But now there is a precedent for blocking Supreme Court justices. I’m thinking some payback there will be wise, very soon; hear Trump’s appointee out, then suggest that the hearing shows their disqualification to be a justice, and simply filibuster the choice. Do not let Trump, the Tea Party, and the Republicans do any damage; at the very least we must restrict it as much as possible, especially if it infringes on our Constitutional rights.

Any Democratic official who does not understand this does not deserve to hold office.

Don’t give in and don’t give up, my friends. America has been through dark days before, and though we may soon go through the worst time in our history, with effort and luck, we shall overcome.

A conversation I just had by the F&M protest tree has given me some hope that, despite incidents of horrific intolerance and hatred even here, we can at least agree to work together to make America, not “great again” as Trump would say, but better than it was before; a kinder, more just, more loving place.

Senior Nick Riebel is a staff writer. His email is nriebel@fandm.edu.

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