The 2016 presidential election here in the U.S. is finally over and thank goodness it is! What an aggravating, infuriating, and tiring process it has been! Even though the candidate I thought would win did not win, this election has been nothing short of disgusting. The whole process, from the primaries, to the conventions, to the election itself two days ago, has been a mockery of the American electoral process, nothing shy of a spit in the face of what it should be. While having primaries, conventions, and elections are a part of a democracy, and even though this nation's forefathers knew, all too well, that democracy is messy, the depths of a garbage pit to which this year's election sank are not a pro-democratic process argument.
I have already heard on social media and TV calls for peace and unity. After such a nationally-divisive and political party-destroying process, they are appropriate. However, with emotions running high, there must be a venting and grieving period. No, not a burn-it-all-down mentality -- I am not proposing mass anarchy here -- but those periods must be allowed. Not everyone is satisfied with the election of any President -- that's part of the democracy -- but, let's be honest, the levels of division, hatred, and fear, mandate a venting and grieving period.
This year's presidential race had, at one point, a total of twenty-two candidates: seventeen Republican, three Democrat, and two major third-party. (There were many, many more candidates, as anyone can officially register to be a presidential candidates, but they never gain any national attention.) Twenty-two candidates were whittled down to four (Republican, Democrat, and both major third-party), and most people were not satisfied with the nominees or were just worn out from the lengthy election season. It was reported that sixty percent of eligible voters went ahead and voted this year. While the popular vote is roughly split down the middle, which may make you think that the entire country was split down the middle, in actuality, the split is down the middle of sixty percent, not the entire country. Half of sixty percent is thirty percent, so the largest block of eligible voters passed on voting (30%, 30%, 40%). While Hillary Clinton, as of this writing, is ahead in the popular vote, none of them is, in fact, in the majority.
Donald Trump won the Presidency with roughly seventy percent of the country not voting for him.
The American political primary process is a joke, and that's putting it nicely. First off, it is far, far, FAR too long. Like our perpetual war modality, we are also in a perpetual election modality. (I heard politicians and political pundits talking about the 2016 elections about a month after the 2012 elections were held ... before Obama was even sworn in for his second term!) Canada's political primary process, for example, runs about a month. (Its longest ever was two-and-a-half months, and that was ninety years ago.) In Britain, elections are legally mandated to be no more than approximately three weeks. Italy's elections run about less than two months, and elections in the Netherlands run about two-and-a-half months. The American process truly does not need to be that long, not to mention the way it is now is far too expensive. In his 2013 article for The Daily Beast, titled Too Soon for 2016! How to End Our Endless Presidential Election Season, Political Science professor and author Raymond A. Smith proposed the following:
"The selection of a new U.S. President could be streamlined, yet not unduly
rushed, by holding a single nationwide primary around Independence Day,
party conventions in August, debates in October, and the general election in
November. Adopting this model would dramatically shorten the length and
intensity of the negative campaigning that now turns off so many voters. It
could also reduce the exorbitant expense of our elections; the BBC has
estimated that the 2012 U.S. presidential election costs about 120 times
more than the 2010 U.K. parliamentary election, which works out to some
23 times more per capita."
I would include in the above discussion the political conventions in this country, which have become, over time, mostly bloated summertime TV miniseries.
The verbal bile about opponents that is spewed out on the campaign trail, in interviews, at debates, and during the post-convention race is also a disgrace. I believe in freedom of speech, but the vernacular vomit during this campaign was disgusting. Do they have the freedom to say those things, of course they do. Freedom is not, however, equivocal with requirement, but freedom does include responsibility. Politicians need to be responsible enough (as well as respectful of the process) to simply draw differences and avoid this terrible behavior. Has this bashing, trashing, and mudslinging (although that last word seems quaint in light of modern political campaigns) been introduced in 2016? Of course not. It has, however, been getting worse election cycle after election cycle. People are fed up with "negative campaigns" and politicians talk about not wanting to engage in them, but they continue and intensify over time. One big reason that people have less and less respect for the political process is that those in the forefronts of the process have less and less respect for it.
The worst exception to all of this, however, has occurred during this election cycle. While official positions and intended actions on a number of issues remain paramount to most voters, this year's Republican candidate, Donald Trump, was nominated and elected President after his open displays and comments of racism, xenophobia, bullying, condoned assault of women, and encouraged acts of violence came to light. Not to mention his comments showing an ignorance to how the world and international relations work, which has many people in this country and both leaders and citizens of other countries shaking in their boots. To that extent, he now has to deliver on the bill of goods he sold during his campaign or else all of those who voted for him will feel betrayed. I wholeheartedly do not want to see him do everything he has promised, or even half of it, but if he doesn't follow through, it's a consequence of a political system that has sunk, and continues to sink, deeper and deeper into making the democratic process even more distasteful and divisive (i.e. campaign talk and once-elected talk are two radically different things). I am not the only who is disgusted with that kind of disparity.
The injection of an entity this year, as in many election cycles past, which has no business in doing so, Christians/Conservative Christians/Evangelical Christians, did, and has continued to, disrespect and dismantle what our forefathers intended for this country. (It also showed their hypocrisy.) This country was not founded to be what those who came here were escaping; they wanted something different. This country was founded to be a free nation with some influence of Christian beliefs, not a "Christian" nation with limited freedom of varying beliefs. You want to meet as Christians to talk politics, go ahead. You want to have a major influence (statewide or nationally) as a Christian and not strictly as an interested citizen, well, that is not in the spirit of the founding of this country. Our forefathers never intended for religion to never be mentioned publicly, but they also did not want the new nation to be an as-the-King-goes-so-goes-the-kingdom enterprise, either. We were never intended to be a theocracy or a theo-political demagoguery.
The injection of another entity which has no business in the election process, the FBI, into this election was yet another failure of the system. FBI Director James Comey was under a lot of pressure to look into the thousands of E-mails Hillary Clinton had received and sent on a private server and to proceed with an investigation. When Comey said there was nothing that warranted pursuing prosecution back in July, even though Republicans continued to harp on it, that should have been the end of it. (Yes, sometimes inappropriate and sloppy behavior is not prosecutable behavior.) Under even more pressure than before, Comey comes out eleven days before the election to announce ... nothing (i.e. there may be something there, there may not be). Thus, the reintroduction of what was supposed to have been a dead issue less than two weeks away from the election is highly suspect and could have had some level of impact on voting. (Even the U.S. Department of Justice did not want Comey to come forward with simply a maybe.) Then, his sending a letter to Congress, just two days before the election that there was, after all, nothing new certainly looks equally suspect, as well as just plain ridiculous. Sure, coming out after the election and saying there was something found, if Clinton had been elected, would have made him look partisan ... what he ended up doing still resulted in the same, as well as making himself look like a joke.
Regarding a rigged election, the one thing I equate Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders with Donald Trump is that the election process is rigged. There were a couple of states in the Republican primaries where Trump had won, but another candidate received more delegates. Bernie Sanders pointing out that several hundred delegates were allocated to Hillary Clinton before he even got into the race is not indicative of a free and open system. In addition, the Democratic Party's practice of "superdelegates", which stemmed from the 1968 and 1972 Democratic conventions and respective presidential elections, and began being used at the 1984 Democratic convention, is another mockery of fair and open elections. Superdelegates, in essence, have more power, ultimately, than standard convention delegates, They are unbound delegates, unlike standard delegates, so they can vote for whomever they wish, but they do not pledge their votes until the national convention. Major news outlets were asked to not include superdelegate totals throughout the primaries this year, but many of them did, creating a false sense of distance between Clinton delegates and Sanders delegates. That, too, is not indicative of a fair and open election process. Third-party candidates have complained about this for years. (As a corollary, legislative elections in Romania will be held next month and there will be candidates from fifteen political parties on the ballot -- not just running, but on the ballot.)
I, too, think the entire U.S. election process, in both parties, is rigged, or slanted, or fudged, or skewed.
How someone so distrustful and boorish like Donald Trump can be elected President is not just about voter backlash, although that is a huge part of it. It is also not the reason the system is a disgrace. It is the result of a disgraceful process. In a historical perspective, aside from measuring how the process has deteriorated over the years, look at where this country went from 2008 to 2016. We went from electing and re-electing this country's first black President to electing someone as President who was openly endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups. What a step forward!
Even though no President ever accomplishes everything they promise, all we have to go on is what that candidate has said. I believe that Donald Trump is dangerous for this country, both domestically and internationally. I think his proposed policies and actions are ruinous and will make us more unstable and divided domestically, more hated internationally, and far less safe as a whole, and I am worried about my country's future. I am a big enough boy to eat my words and apologize if I'm wrong, but I voted in this election and that is how I sincerely feel in its aftermath.
As a citizen of this country, Mr. Trump, please prove me wrong.