Guest opinion: Hope and concern on the eve of Trump
Having suffered through the most hateful, vitriolic presidential election in history, we now await the inauguration of the Electoral College victor in a few days’ time with some interesting and unprecedented developments and musings from the new president-elect.
Regardless of the various opinions on the outgoing president, favorable or not, a sitting U.S. president has never endured the level of disrespect given to Barack Obama over the last eight years. One of his most prolific critics was Donald J. Trump, advocate of the “birther” movement and adopted champion of the “alt-right,” a politically correct euphemism for numerous white supremacist and fringe populist/nativist movements to the extreme right-of-center who merrily supported the Trump candidacy with very little distancing from the candidate himself.
But the people have spoken, and our republic’s Electoral College system has prevailed in Donald Trump’s favor. The weariness and distaste of the status quo have ousted mainstream Hillary and her politicos, a feat generally welcomed by one-half of the country and heralded as a “swamp-draining” stratagem, per Mr. Trump’s campaign message.
We, speaking for those who did not support Trump or Hillary in this election, await with bated breath the new and improved governance and promised cleanup of Washington, D.C. Soon the new president will assume his office and begin his legacy. To wish ill of him would be counterproductive; the election is over and he will be the new president of the United States.
That being said, there are many apprehensions and concerns fueled by Twitter posts and news snippets of Donald Trump, not the least of which are the incessant protocol-busting and diplomatically terse tweets of The Man Who Is Not Yet President. In the weeks since the election, he has managed to foster anger and uncertainty among our allies and adversaries alike: flippancy toward the 38-year “One China” diplomacy with the Taiwan President telephone call; anxiety of our NATO allies regarding the future of their participation and continuing protection by the U.S., including former Soviet-bloc Baltic states bordering Russia; an ego-driven refusal to accept the loss of the popular vote, attributing it to “millions of people who voted illegally”; his characterization of heads of state, media figures and just about anyone else who disagrees with him as “dumb,” “stupid” and a host of other eighth-grade level slurs and put-downs, as well as his well-publicized disparagement of Latinos, immigrants, women, POWs, etc; his as-yet unexplained infatuation with Vladimir Putin (and admiration for his “leadership” skills) in direct opposition to the 17 U.S. Intelligence agencies’ findings of Russian cyber-meddling in U.S. affairs, and the list goes on and on. Mr. Trump’s gargantuan ego and seemingly paper-thin skin is alarming, at the very least.
Perhaps the most disconcerting element of this election cycle as a whole is the denigration and perversion of the news (“fake news”) and information provided to the American people and how it inevitably drove the voters to their conclusions.
With the election of Barack Obama many things changed: the number of “hate” groups (as specified by the Southern Poverty Law Center) quadrupled. Firearms and ammunition sales went through the roof. Doomsday “preppers” sprouted everywhere, convinced that the end of the world was upon us.
Right-wing media outlets such as Fox News and Breitbart enjoyed record audience numbers, although nonpartisan fact-checkers deemed 50-60 percent of their “news” as patently false. Even so, Fox News polled as the No. 1-watched news source in America. To be fair, MSNBC and CNN also slanted, albeit left, and with a much smaller percentage of falsehoods.
By far the biggest victim of polarized, partisan news reporting has been the truth. Facts are disputed, ridiculed and ignored, and spurious “news” of dubious origin and intent is accepted as gospel and touted as factual. The sun has risen in the east and the Earth is flat once again.
And so here we are. Two months after the election, and Donald Trump supporters are reveling in their victory, as well they should. Those who were not await the future of the country under a Trump administration.
With a proposed Cabinet full of millionaires and seemingly unqualified cronies, we hope for the swamp-draining we were promised. We hope that our seniors’ health care remains intact and that Social Security will be there for us when the time comes, since we’ve paid into it our entire lives. We hope that Donald Trump is the Washington outsider and reformer he claims to be. And above all we hope for a more peaceful world.
Dana Andersen is a New Castle resident.