We end the year this month. Good riddance.
We will begin 2017 with the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. Never thought I’d say that, but it’s the reality.
Trump won, and we have to respect that result.
Donald Trump will be my president. And yours. Simply saying “Donald Trump isn’t my president” doesn’t make it so. If you are a citizen of the United States of America, he’s your president. And mine.
So be it.
Trump will be my 12th president. I was born during Dwight Eisenhower’s second term. I’ve lived through John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
Social media, the internet, the news sites—all have been full of the doom and dismay of this presidential election.
As I told my classes at UAB, this is our process. We have a campaign. We vote on our president. The Electoral College has the final say. Though Trump didn’t win the popular vote, he won the states that gave him an Electoral College victory.
I’ve been asked to sign petitions to urge the delegates to the Electoral College to vote against Trump. I can’t sign them. That’s certainly within their authority, but I can’t sign one of those petitions. It’s not our process.
Nobody is more wary of who we’ve elected to the highest office in the land, the most powerful position on earth, than I am. But I fully respect the decision, and we’ll have to live with it.
We’re not a dictatorship, and Trump won’t be a dictator. We have an amazing constitution to prevent that from happening.
There hasn’t been a presidency in our history that has not been marred by bad stuff. Just in my life, we’ve had the McCarthy Un-American activity hearings; the assassination of Kennedy; Johnson’s escalation of the Vietnam War; Nixon’s continuing escalation of that war and resignation in disgrace over Watergate; Ford’s abandonment of Vietnam; Carter’s mishandling of the Iran hostage crisis; Reagan’s scandals, the Beirut bombing and the arms-for-hostages deals; Bush 1’s war on Panama and the first Iraq war; Clinton’s sex scandal; the 9/11 attack on New York, the Pentagon, and Pennsylvania, along with another unnecessary war in Iraq and the destruction of the economy; and Obama’s Benghazi (though he did get 9/11 architect Osama Bin Laden); and a seemingly unending series of mass shootings.
As a second grader, I cried when Kennedy was assassinated. I thought he was a relative. I watched his funeral on TV. I was again stunned when Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered in 1968 and a short time later, when Robert Kennedy was killed.
Bad stuff happens in a bad world, and we’re living in a bad world. But we’re also living in a good world. During that entire time frame, many wonderful events occurred.
A new, strong middle class emerged in the 1950s; we landed men on the moon in the 1960s; the gay rights movement began gaining popularity in the 1970s; the U.S. hockey team beat the Russians, and the Berlin Wall fell in the 1980s; Nelson Mandela was released from a South African prison, and we got the internet in the 1990s; we elected our first black president in the first decade of the 2000s; and the first woman was nominated for president from a major party in the 2010s, though she did not win.
That woman, Democrat Hillary Clinton, was defeated by a misogynist, Donald Trump, with a significant vote from—who would have guessed—women.
Yes, it’s hard to understand, but it’s history now. We must respect that result. Because that’s how it works in the United States. We vote, we choose, and we respect the outcome.
We don’t have to like it. No, we don’t. But we must respect it.
The constitution won’t allow Trump to become a dictator as some fear, any more than it would allow Obama to declare martial law and remain in office, as some have predicted.
Next month, Republican Donald Trump becomes President of the United States. Of all the United States. And, yes, he’ll be my president, too.
I must live with that. And I do respect it.