The election is over, and now the United States will get (at least) four years of President Donald Trump. Now, during a time of remarkable polarization between the two major parties, many people who voted for Hillary Clinton feel as though this is the end of the world.
In many people’s minds, Trump has been built up as an existential threat to things like reproductive rights and a responsible environmental policy. American Muslims wonder if their extended family will be permitted to visit them. Mexican-Americans expect to be separated from many of their kin.
Of course, this is not just Trump who will be imposing his will. The Republicans will have dominion over the entire legislative branch of our government. The likelihood of one of the (rather old) Supreme Court justices dying in the near future is also significant, so the judicial branch could see Republican dominance as well.
It is no surprise that people are losing their minds. Think about it: this man who has been endlessly maligned in the press for over a year is now not only going to be everyone’s leader, but he will, in my opinion, bring the Republican establishment to heel and rebuild it as a Trumpist party.
Trump’s haters have not reacted well.
CNN has reported on anti-Trump protests taking place in “Los Angeles; New Haven, Connecticut; Orlando; Chicago; Boston; Asheville, North Carolina; Nashville; and Columbus, Ohio, and there were marches at schools in Denver and Omaha, Nebraska.” And City authorities in Portland, Oregon, declared a particular protest a riot after things got too out of hand.
Why all of the protesting? Some of it, I’m sure, is just raw anger and fear. But, more specifically, I have heard a lot about how Trump is “not my president” because he lost the popular vote. Well, let me get one thing out of the way right now: the Republicans seized control of our government by legitimate means.
Yes, Trump lost the popular vote. Yes, our senatorial system is inherently undemocratic because every state only gets two senators (thus a vote from Wyoming for senator is worth dozens of times what a vote from California is).
But none of this should be a surprise. Trump and his senate majority might not be what the American people actually asked for, but they were chosen according to the established system. Rather than rioting, people ought to get Democrats to put proportional senatorial representation and the abolition of the electoral college on their to-do list. Such things would be unlikely to pass, but they must if we ever hope to live in a country where there truly is “one person, one vote.”
I am forced to remember the 2000 election, where George W. Bush lost a larger share of the popular vote than Trump did this year. It’s a remarkable time to be alive: In the centuries-long history of our country, a winner of the presidential election has only won without the popular vote four times, and 2 of those times were in my short lifetime. A system that was designed for a handful of colonies is now playing out poorly in our geographically huge and highly urbanized country.
Whoever you voted for, I encourage you to give our incoming president a chance. I can sympathize to a degree with those people who lost control and resorted to vandalism. But that is not proactive behavior, and it isn’t going to change the fact that sometimes the system just doesn’t represent you.