Time To Unite, Not Spread Fear

November 15, 2016

By Rich Bodee

The presidential election is being called by many analysts, “history’s greatest political feat.” And it was.

Let’s start with Donald Trump’s voters: the silent majority, a term that dates back to President Nixon. The concept is applicable now as those who supported Trump and his policies (and may or may not have said it out loud) were the majority of voters, contrary to what many analysts, pundits and polls predicted.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 300,000 votes but in 2000, Al Gore also won the popular vote and lost to George W. Bush. This has happened before. 

In a previous column, I discussed how the electoral system works, why it is flawed and then I advocated for electoral votes by congressional district, which I said gives each voter more of a voice. But like it or not, that is not the system that’s in place in our current democracy.

Clinton and President Obama spoke to voters and supporters the day after the election voicing a simple message: we are all on the same team. Obama even used the metaphor of an intramural scrimmage. 

Now is the time to be united but CNN Political Commentator Van Jones didn’t get the message. 

To be fair, Van Jones made his comments early on Nov. 9 when Trump was declared a winner and hours before Obama and Clinton even delivered their speeches.

I’d also like to point out that CNN is owned by Time Warner, who just so happens to be one of Clinton’s biggest donors.

You may have missed his comments because it was late and you fell asleep before the results were all in but take a close look at what Van Jones, Democrat and Clinton supporter, said trying to express the pain of a Clinton defeat. 

“We have talked about income, we have talked about class, we have talked about region, but we haven’t talked about race,” Jones said. “This was a white-lash. This was a white-lash against a changing country. It was a white-lash against a black president, in part. And that’s the where the pain comes. And Donald Trump has a responsibility tonight to come out and reassure people that he is going to be the president of all the people who he insulted, and offended, and brushed aside.”

Jones’ term “white-lash” refers to some sort of backlash from white people who, according to Jones, voted for Trump and are in his eyes guilty of the qualities like racism and sexism, which have defined Trump throughout this election cycle.

You want to talk about dangerous rhetoric, that’s what this is. You want to talk about how Trump grouped people, that’s what this is.

I guess Jones forgot that white people also supported Obama. Did he forget that 69.4 million people voted for Obama in 2008 and 65.9 million in 2012?

The 59.9 million people who voted for Trump are not all racists and sexists, like the media and Clinton’s campaign has characterized them. Some are but the vast majority are not. But by using the phrase “white-lash,” Jones is saying that, if you are white and you voted for Trump, you are grouped into that category.  

Jones was right in that Trump does have the responsibility to heal the divide in this country that was created during the campaign. Trump made many inflammatory comments throughout the election cycle and that’s not something we should just overlook, but it’s also not something we can control. America has spoken and Donald Trump is our 45th president. 

This was an election based on political ideology and policy. It was a rejection by voters of the “political insiders.” Just look at Illinois as an example. In 2014, we elected Bruce Rauner as our governor – a businessman that also had no political experience prior to running for office. Rauner and Trump even had a similar message. Rauner’s message was to “Bring Back Illinois,” and Trump’s message was to “Make America Great Again.” If a state that has been a Democratic stronghold for over two decades elected a Republican governor, then we should be the ones to serve as a model of why we should give Trump a chance before we criticize his policies once he is in office. He is, after all, our next president and this is how our democracy works.  

 I understand the fear associated with an incoming Trump administration. Look at the history of America. Japanese internment camps in the 1940’s and Operation Wetback in 1954 are examples of why people are fearful. During his campaign, Trump suggested that he would deport illegal immigrants. However, it’s unlikely that Trump could actually get any deportation program through Congress. For the record, Trump’s suggestion of a “Muslim ban” was deleted from his website at some point during the election.

However, just walking around campus on Nov. 9, I saw students and faculty in tears. Talking with some of them, I found my fellow classmates were more fearful of how the outside world now views them, including right here at Dominican. It is important that we all acknowledge the relevance of this fear.

I want to make a few things clear. I am white and I support the various programs for foreign students at Dominican. I support gender equal pay. After all, my mom was pilot for United Airlines and can speak to how men would view her as she rose through the company’s ranks. But one thing that I don’t support, and will never support, is the unfair and inaccurate labeling or grouping of an entire ethnicity, gender or religion. Unfortunately, that needs to be said in our modern world.

Here at Dominican, we are all on the same team. We may have disagreements, but we are all here for the same purpose: to learn, to grow and to create a more inclusive community where no student, faculty member or visitor feels threatened or marginalized. 

Going forward, that should be our goal; to control what we can right here at Dominican.

boderich@my.dom.edu