“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
America experienced a national election last week. Our nation has had national elections every four years since our inaugural presidential election held from December 1788 through January 1789.
The British native and prolific slave owner Gen. George Washington was elected to serve as president by those “Americans,” who at that time were largely disenfranchised “foreigners” from Britain and elsewhere, so long as they were not Native American or born of African descent.
The election of Donald J. Trump is one of America’s low-water marks in history by any scholarly measure. Trump has been accused of deplorable treatment of women; he has failed to offer his tax returns for examination by the American people; he has been married three times and admitted to committing adultery during the time he was married.
He considers himself a Christian but fails to attend church services on a regular basis; he did not serve in the military and he slandered an entire culture by accusing those immigrating from Mexico of being “rapists” who bring “drugs and crime” to America.
Trump has shattered the aspirational myth of the American president being among the best our nation has to offer in character: integrity, intellect, courage and experience. Simply said, by any previous standard, Trump is indeed “unfit to serve” as president of the United States.
Be that as it may, on Jan. 20, 2017, Trump will be sworn in as our nation’s 45th president. The election is over. Trump will be awarded some 290 Electoral College votes, despite receiving what could be almost 2 percent fewer actual popular votes than his opponent.
Get over it, America, and get used to referring to “The Donald” as “Mr. President.” The myriad post-election public disturbances our nation is experiencing throughout some American large cities will not change the fact that Trump will be sworn in as our nation’s commander in chief.
Therefore, it is time to explore how we have arrived at this moment in America’s (de)evolution and what a Trump presidency may say about each of us.
Let’s first examine a few of the preliminary numbers from this recently completed election. Trump received the following support:
▪ 58 percent of the white vote.
▪ 53 percent of the male vote.
▪ 42 percent of the female vote.
▪ 58 percent of the Protestant vote.
▪ 52 percent of the Catholic vote.
▪ 81 percent of the Christian Evangelical vote.
▪ 61 percent of those voters in active military service.
▪ 29 percent of the Latino vote.
▪ 8 percent of the African American vote.
A couple of observations: Women, non-Mexican-immigrant Latinos and the faith-based communities voted in large numbers for Trump. Additionally, what the early numbers indicate is that a large number of traditional Democratic voters stayed home, or voted but failed to cast a vote for president in protest over the selection of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic nominee.
The “Bernie or Bust” approach of many ethnic and millennial voters was clearly present. However, of those who did come to the polls and cast their votes for president, many Democrats in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Florida simply chose to vote for Trump in larger numbers than had been anticipated by the talking-head media and polling “experts” who misread pre-election voter sentiment.
Where does America go from here? I suggest that each of us, regardless of whom we favored in the 2016 election, follow the advice of a dear friend of mine calling for us to “inspect what we expect.” I suggest we lift our gaze to a place of highest expectations from the place of low expectations among those currently demonstrating against the Trump victory.
I suggest we look to hold Trump accountable for his policies and his actions, but that we do not rush to prejudge the type of president he will be. Many who have served as president before Trump have found themselves transformed by the enormity of the issues that reside in the decision-making inbox culminating in the Oval Office.
As President Harry Truman was fond of saying about the presidency, “The buck stops here.” It is my hope that Trump will exceed our nation’s expectations and seek to follow the model of Lyndon Johnson relative to civil rights or Richard Nixon relative to China or Ronald Reagan relative to the former Soviet Union.
Being president is a much bigger job than running for president. I hope and pray, for our nation’s sake, that Trump is up to the task. If that is what happens, our nation’s expectations for a Trump presidency will be largely exceeded by its reality.
Mark T. Harris of Merced served as the deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Commerce Department under President Bill Clinton and as undersecretary at the California Business, Transportation And Housing Agency under former Gov. Gray Davis. Harris teaches management and business economics at UC Merced.