By Ruth Gadebusch
This past election produced a nation we thought we had grown beyond. Most of us recognized that the population had not all lived up to the high ideals expressed in that document known as the Constitution of the United States of America but we did think we were, at the very least, on the way to tolerance and respect for those who man disagree with us but share this land. Alas, after an election, arguably the nastiest on record, we find we are in deep trouble.
All during the campaign, much longer than would seem necessary to learn all we needed to know about the candidates, we have elected a man whose main object seems to be to dismantle government as we know it. This goes far beyond the usual winner’s desired to make changes.
As he nears completing the selection of his highest office appointees, his cabinet, nearly all have previously committed to destroying the agency to which s/he has been appointed to lead. Given much of his campaign rhetoric, no one should be surprised.
The surprise is that so many heretofore respectable Republicans seem to have no concern whatsoever about the caliber of these appointees. Of course, many of them charged with the responsibility of vetting the nominees had already indicated their character, or lack thereof when they early on expressed great disdain for the candidate only to support him in the election; again, far beyond coming together to support their party. It is party before country.
There was little doubt that efforts were made during the campaign to make it difficult for voters to cast their ballots who were expected to support the opposition and we knew of his warm relationship with the Russian president. Nevertheless, the almost daily revelations of suspected Russian interference to tip the scales toward the candidate are shocking, especially when there are hints of collusion between the president of that nation and our president-elect.
Make no mistake. This is not a case where once in office the person lives up to it. These appointees are in keeping with all that we have come to know of him. Never have we elected a president with a more questionable character reinforced by his own public behavior, to say nothing of what is supposed to be private. Instead of reassuring those of us who wanted to give the officer the benefit of the doubt he has convinced us that our worst fears are reasonable and we have little recourse despite his election by an outdated electoral system that denies the majority vote, long thought to be inviolate.
To be sure I am fascinated by some of the proposals that might overthrow the election of this vulgar mouthed, unkind, self-centered man (the mildest language possible regarding this creature slated to become the leader of the free world). But having long been a civic-education advocate I can hardly endorse them. I would urge all progressive, caring citizens to work diligently for electoral reform through legitimate avenues even if it is a long slow process. After all, that is the true way to American greatness. Nor do we want to lower ourselves to the level of the shenanigans, or downright unethical actions, his supporters used in electing our next President. Should we be successful in invalidating the November 2016 election we could cause more problems than we solved. The other party members, even many from whom we expected better, have already clearly indicated that they would leave no stone unturned to keep their power. The man would stop at nothing!
Our challenge is to hold on to what we thought had been settled, that is rights for all: LGBT people, the homeless, the sick, the hungry, women, “dreamers,” the unemployed and on and on. It is not the government of the rich, for the rich and by the rich for which this nation was created. It is “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free…..”
Ruth Gadebusch, a veteran and community activist, is a former member of the Fresno Unified School Board and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing as well as an Emeritus Member of the Board of the Center for Civic Education.