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The Election of 2016


I’m unable to write new posts for a couple of weeks. This is a rerun of one I published on 11/11/16, just after the election.

I expect Donald Trump to be a poor president. But it isn’t the end of the world, at least not yet.

It is time I addressed the elections of 2016 in this blog. Politics is far outside my focus here, yet the election has been a momentous event, and I don’t think I should ignore it completely.

I did not support Mr. Trump, nor did I support the slate of Republicans who ran the table in Missouri’s statewide elections. The environment is not a high priority for them, and some are overtly hostile to environmental concerns. I fear that their election is a mistake, and we will pay for it for many decades. Yet, the future is not set in stone, and we don’t yet know whether their actions in office will match their terrible rhetoric.

With that said, do not forget that this country has weathered many storms. The situation is not yet as dire as it was in 1812, when a foreign power invaded and burned our capital. Nor is it as dire as in 1860, when the South seceded from The Union. It is not as dire as it was in 1933, when unemployment was about 25%. It is not as dire as it was in the 1940s, when World War II broke out. “Keep calm and carry on.” It was good advice then, and it is good advice now.

We need to accept that Mr. Trump will be our next president, then we need to start moving into the future. There are a couple of things we need to do. We need to make our voices heard, and we need to be loud and clear about what is acceptable and what is not.

  • Racism and bigotry are not okay, NEVER, EVER.
  • Attacks on free speech are not okay, NEVER, EVER.
  • Attacks on facts and science as the basis of knowledge are not okay, NEVER, EVER.
  • Bullying and abuse are not okay, NEVER, EVER.
  • Ignoring or being hostile to the environment is not okay, NEVER, EVER.
  • (Today I would add that attacking the rule of law and the institutions that uphold it is not okay, NEVER, EVER.)

At the same time, the election results suggest that the status quo is not working for many people. When I was young, it was a fine thing to be liberal and progressive. But today in Missouri, the word “liberal” has become an epithet, and political adds hurl the word at opponents like mud. Did liberals earn that scorn? How? I don’t see much future in liberal policies until we are willing to look at what we have done that has offended so many.

I don’t have much hope that Mr. Trump is going to be a good president, but perhaps he will surprise us. Some who were supposed to become great presidents didn’t (Herbert Hoover), and some who were supposed to be lousy presidents became great (Abraham Lincoln). We’ll have to wait and see. Until then, here in St. Louis the sun is shining and it is a spectacular fall day. The world hasn’t failed yet. Keep calm and carry on.

Since publishing the above post, Mr. Trump has, in my opinion, proved himself to be one of the worst presidents in American history. He has had some policy successes, but in the process he has done huge damage to our country, both at home and abroad. It appears to me that he is intentionally trying to destroy the Environmental Protection Agency, or to make it a puppet of the corporations it is supposed to regulate. Worst of all, he has attacked and deliberately weakened the institutions that uphold the rule of law in America. This is damage that will be hard to repair, and we will pay for it for decades to come.

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