That has been my reaction several times in the last two days. The first was when I turned on the television for the first time Tuesday midway through the evening and heard that Ohio had gone for Trump by double digits. Wait…what!?! I thought to myself. The final vote was under 10% but that was still a surprising margin. Ohio was going to be close we were all told. I went to bed not knowing what the outcome would be. When I woke up in the morning, I was told that Trump won. Wait…what!?! “You’re kidding, me, right?” I asked. I was assured it was true. The vast majority of the polls did not suggest this would be the outcome. There is much talk going on now about how polls are done and what must change in the future. The stunned expressions of journalists reporting on the upset and of Sec. Clinton’s supporters as the outcome became apparent, demonstrate just how surprising this outcome is. Given the multitude of mistakes that Donald Trump made, the fact that he won suggests a significant outpouring of sentiment against politics as usual.
I have heard reports of Trump supporters evidencing some of the darker elements of the rhetoric used against him. I have a similar reaction to these reports as I did the election. Wait…what!?! For all the abuse Trump supporters took, for a few to react this way is only verifying what opponents always believed. Some have argued that the strength of political correctness has become so heightened that it caused some who planned to vote for Trump not to admit it when pollsters called. It is an interesting thought, though hard to prove. Regardless, unless Trump supporters want to prove Sec. Clinton right, they should call out these true “deplorables” for unacceptable behavior.
Speaking of unacceptable behavior, one more item caused me to say “Wait…what!?!” Shortly after the election, protests began. I find this rather perplexing. I understand the dilemma a Trump presidency produces. I understand protesting too, but usually it is done to change something. The participants were protesting the outcome of a national election. The people have spoken, for good or for ill. Protesting won’t change it. Even worse, some have resorted to violence. Now this is truly deplorable. We, in America, need to make such expressions unacceptable. Violence in response to the ballot is one of the most anti-American expressions possible. Indeed, it was the ability to express oneself through the ballot rather than through violence that made the American experiment so unique and important. Let’s not go backward. Such expressions have too often been used for political gain and at times, political correctness has prevented us from responding to them with the proper critique. There are many ways to respond to an election that does not go the way one wants it to go. People can begin working on the next election, lobbying members of Congress for policies they support, and expressing themselves through blogs, social media, and the like. Throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks at police officers should not be one of them. President Lincoln’s address to Congress on July 4, 1861 rightly concluded “that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets; and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided, there can be no successful appeal back to bullets….”