Putting Donald Trump in the White House is equivalent to this: Taking the lid off a manhole leading down into Hell, and putting down ladders so swarms of demons can climb out. Trump and his campaign have let loose racism, bigotry, violence, Fascism, unlimited corporate power…. These evils are always present, more or less latent. They are far more than latent now. The whole world seems in for a very rough time.
How did this bad joke turn into a sickening reality? What does it mean? How should decent people respond? In the past weeks I’ve seen dozens of articles on this subject. It is much easier to understand, in retrospect, what happened, than it is to come up with short-term solutions.
The “right” has for years been chewing away at the underpinnings of civil society. It has targeted the chokepoints of civilization–the schools, the media, the judiciary, academia. (One of the pioneers of this work is former Delaware governor “Pete” du Pont, early advocate of privatizing Social Security, climate change denier, voice of the oil and gas industries, opponent of environmental regulation.) This has left a great many people without the critical thinking skills and political education to understand what is happening to them and what they might do about it.
On top of there are:
o The profound economic stress people are experiencing, especially in rural areas, exacerbated by “free trade” policies;
o the unavailability or unaffordability of affordable health care and higher education for millions;
o the gutting of private-sector pensions;
o the maniacal spending on foreign wars, assassination campaigns, new nuclear weapons … using up the resources other countries spend on health care and education for their people;
o irresponsible energy policies driven by fossil fuel interests.
In 2016 the consequences of this long misgovernment came home to roost. Both Bernie Sanders, on the Democratic Side, and Trump, on the Republican side, tapped into widespread discontent. Sanders offered reasonable solutions, or at least approaches, to our problems. Trump, a very clever politician, offered lies and distractions, bullying and intimidation. I have little doubt that, had Sanders been the Democratic nominee, he would now be President-elect. Absent responsible action by the Electoral College, Trump will be President. God. Help. Us.
Bernie Sanders recently said, in a Nov 30th magazine interview:
“What I would say to people who are feeling, as I am, frightened and unhappy about this situation: Do not believe that the vast majority of the people who voted for Trump are racist, sexist or homophobes. I don’t believe that. Some are. I don’t believe they all are. They have turned to Trump out of desperation and pain because the Democratic Party has not even acknowledged their reality, let alone addressed it.”
People are not very analytical, very sophisticated, about voting. They tend to respond emotionally, to things they like or dislike, and tune out the rest. Objectively, Sanders is correct, but for many people, accepting people’s votes for Trump, retaining respect for them, is difficult. A vote for Trump feels like a vote for Hitler, an evil, dishonorable act. Understandable, but not excusable. In this sense this election has been very divisive, very disruptive of mutual respect.
We are left with the practical reality that those people and orgs working for social justice, peace, health, a clean environment … are going to be at a much greater disadvantage.
Some hoped that Trump’s evil rhetoric would not be fully implemented. But his choices of cabinet members and other top officials have horrified nearly everyone.
Beyond Nuclear said this morning: “Almost to a man and woman, they are individuals diametrically opposed to the missions of the departments they would lead.”
A racist to be Attorney General. A climate change denier to head the Environmental Protection Agency. One of the most notorious thieving banksters to be Secretary of the Treasury. the CEO of Exxon to be Secretary of State…. A true nightmare.
“After promising again and again to ‘drain the swamp,’ President-Elect Donald Trump is filling the White House with some of the worst corporate villains and Wall Street insiders in America.”
“Trump’s Cabinet is a who’s who of hate and greed. Vulture billionaires who got rich while our economy tanked, climate-change deniers and a senator who was deemed too racist to be a federal judge.”
This is to be expected: All presidents appoint cabinet members they agree with and feel comfortable with. Ronald Reagan, in his day, similarly appointed agency heads who didn’t believe in or support the missions of the agencies. Make Trump president, expect a Cabinet of Demons.
Lets think a bit about what this means in practice for Delaware:
The United States Attorney, responsible for enforcing federal laws, is a political appointee. The present US Attorney for Delaware, Democrat, Charles M. Oberly, III will resign and be replaced by a Trump appointee. Typically, Delaware senators and congressman of the same party as the president would have a lot of say over the appointment. But since none of these are Republicans at the moment ….
Most decisions of the US Environmental Protection Agency are made at the regional level, in our case Region III in Philadelphia. Delaware regulators, in general, only do what the EPA requires them to do. Regional administrators are also political appointees of the president, made in a similar fashion. The present Regional Administrator, Shawn Garvin (a former Biden staffer) will resign and be replaced by a Trump appointee. And so on…..
It’s not inevitable that Trump becomes president.
The Constitution establishes the Electoral College for the specific purpose of keeping Trumps out of the White House.
Federalist Paper 68, Alexander Hamilton, 1788, includes this:
“The process of election affords a moral certainty, that the office of President will never fall to the lot of any man who is not in an eminent degree endowed with the requisite qualifications. Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity, may alone suffice to elevate a man to the first honors in a single State; but it will require other talents, and a different kind of merit, to establish him in the esteem and confidence of the whole Union, or of so considerable a portion of it as would be necessary to make him a successful candidate for the distinguished office of President of the United States.”
The delegates to the Constitutional Convention were also concerned about:
“… the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union?”
Serious arguments are being made that the Electoral College–the electors actually meet separately in each state–should exercise independent judgement as originally contemplated in the Constitution, and decline to elect Trump president. One possibility is that, if enough Republican electors switched their votes to Clinton, she could become president. Or, if Trump did not receive enough votes, the decision would move into the House of Representatives.
The Electoral College consists of 538 electors. A majority of 270 electoral votes is required to elect the President. If 26 of these 538 switched their votes from Trump to Clinton, Clinton would become president.