The Presidential election is over; the results are in. While I am not necessarily thrilled with the results, I am going to give the man a chance. That’s what Americans do, or are supposed to do, with our ‘peaceful transfer of power’ (a quiet revolution if you will) that happens every four to eight years. And in four years, there may be another ‘peaceful overthrow’ of the government, or a choice to continue the revolution that was decided by the ballot box and Electoral College in 2016.
Why am I writing this piece? Because I have seen enough posts on Facebook in the past year or so that are so vile and hurt-filled by both sides of this election that I finally decided to weigh in, and today was no exception. In particular, a friend from childhood posted her thoughts about the post-election rhetoric (some almost as upsetting as those prior to the election) indicting that ‘enough is enough’ and ‘respect the decision of the voters’ and the reason she felt she had the right to express her opinion. She has the right to express her opinion for no other than reason than our First Amendment right to freedom of speech, but I digress.
While I don’t agree with everything she said, I will defend to the death her right to say them. In fact, that is part of the point of this post, and that there are things that I agree with, but there are a few things that she wrote that I can say I know to be untrue. She said, “I am fed up with the disrespect displayed by the American people. The people have spoken, they are tired of the policies of the Democratic party! Our government was set up to keep power in the hands of the people, not the government! Respect the voice of the voter as well as the process! Conservatives did not take to the streets when Obama was elected, either time! We accepted the way our government works, and waited for the opportunity to have our votes heard. One of the qualities that separates us apart from other governments is the peaceful transfer of power! Respect the decision of the voters and the process!”
For the most part, I agree with her. I, too, hate the disrespect displayed, but it’s on both sides of the political spectrum. There has been enough vilification of the other party and/or philosophical perspective of conservative/liberal (or even between individual candidates before the respective political parties selected their respective candidates) for more than a year. And I do respect the decision of the people’s votes even if I wished for different results.
I also respect the way our government works as set up by the founding fathers. Or, at least, how it is supposed to work. This I say because for the past four years, maybe more, there has been no real decisions made by the government, that is the legislative branch. There has only been gridlock by our elected officials in the Congress. Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have basically refused to do their jobs for the American people. They say they represent their constituents, but do they really? They say that they are doing what the people want, yet I can think of at least one issue in which the Senate failed to act upon in the past year. Obama, who was doing his job (part of the job of the executive branch), chose an outstanding candidate in Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court to replace Antonin Scalia after his death, but the party in charge of the Senate absolutely refused to bring him in and confirm or reject him because of the upcoming November election. This is one of the main function of the Senate members, (a part of the checks and balances of our government), but politics were more important than doing their job. (For those who say it was his last year in office, etc. it is not the first time a Supreme Court justice died in office in the last year of a President’s term and yet those Senate members ratified a new justice so this was just more proof of political machinations by the Senate leaders this time.)
Yet, despite this, many of those congressmen/women returned to their elected seats so obviously some voters like the status quo (despite those who talk of term limits, but that’s a subject for another post). So, will gridlock continue now that there is a new President? Or will every progressive law be overturned now that the President and the majority of the Congress are the same party?
Still, it was expressed that no one took to the streets over Obama’s election, and there I have to disagree. From almost the time Obama took office, there was a group of people who stood in front of our local post office with placards stating ‘Impeach Obama’ and other similar messages. I have to admit that I tried to avoid them because, as my younger sister always claimed, I liked to argue and, just for the sake of argument that I could take the opposite side of any issue, whatever the issue. In other words, I chose to avoid them because I didn’t want to get into any sort of political argument with them, but despite this, nearly four years later, these protesters caught me at a weak moment. When I walked over to the woman to answer her shouted question, she then bombarded me with all these reasons her organization believed Obama should be removed from office. After five minutes of this, I finally asked her a question. That question: “When did you first decide that he needed to be impeached?”
Her answer: “In March, 2009.” (Barely more than a month after he had taken office, and he hadn’t even begun working on his executive agenda including the Affordable Care Act).
My response then (and now): “That’s when you decided he was a bad President even before he took office? You didn’t even give him a chance; you decided in advance that he should be impeached.” At that, totally disgusted, I walked away, but I don’t ever recall seeing them there much after that. The reality is that Obama was elected by the people; that the majority voice through their votes was heard, and it is hardly an impeachable offense to take the oath of office. The same is true for Trump; he was elected. To repeat what I began with, I will give the man a chance if only because I don’t want to be like those who disgusted me by prejudging Obama. The people have chosen him to be our next President. That’s the way our democracy works.