The Painful Side of Democracy

Written by Jill Chapin. Posted in Opinion, Politics

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Published on November 10, 2016 with 9 Comments

By Jill Chapin

November 11, 2016

For most voters, it wasn’t supposed to end this way. There’s no consolation prize for winning the popular vote, as Clinton did, because we are a nation of laws and abide by having the Electoral College determine the winner. Trump won it fair and square.

But what happened? There will be those who think our election was tampered with by Putin, by Wikileaks, by voter suppression, but they would be wrong. It was tampered with, but my armchair quarterbacking targets the real culprit.

Just as a broken clock is right twice a day, there are some pronouncements made by Trump that are just plain true. The election was indeed rigged, but it was from within our own electoral process and not from outside forces. The leaders of the Democratic Party predetermined before a vote was cast that their anointed one would be Hillary Clinton. Yet the Democrats were oblivious to their party faithful being fed up with business as usual. This led to the coronation of Hillary with all of her self-inflicted errors of judgment, beginning with Whitewater and ending with emails. Throw in a brilliant but terribly flawed husband, and you have the perfect brew for her opponents to keep stirring up past and current transgressions from now until forever.

But still the party leaders planned their work and then worked their plan to muffle the message of other party hopefuls who also wanted a shot at the nomination; namely Bernie Sanders. Party Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz did everything she could to propel Hillary towards the White House. She actually admitted this on TV, but she did more: She set half of the Democratic primary debates for weekends to prevent Sanders’ message from getting out to a larger audience that would be more likely to tune in during weekday prime time.

No one in either party fully empathized with the general electorate about their profound frustration regarding the entrenched political collusions of decision-making in Washington. More voters wanted a big change from business as usual, real change, and it was Trump who heard their pleas. Sanders heard them too and could have been a genuine counterpoint to all that Trump stood for, minus the appalling rhetoric. Without any baggage from his personal life other than being a self-avowed Socialist, he would have eaten into Trump’s supporters by genuinely agreeing with them that the system is not serving most Americans well. He is the most authentic politician out there, and the millennials were smitten with him and his message. Sadly, they didn’t warm up to Hillary in numbers large enough for her to win.

Okay, but then what happened? What happened was the most brilliant display of democracy in action that we may never witness again. Simply put, people voted for what they wanted and not what leaders of either party were force-feeding them. Although I am beyond distraught at the outcome, I know that half the country is as elated as I am despondent. But realizing that our positions have changed places when half the country had to absorb an Obama administration winning not once, but twice, it is plain to see that our country goes on, our government plods along, sluggish, often incompetently or scandalously, but we endure.

Finally, here’s what happened from the viewpoint of Garry Kasparov, a former world chess champion and a Russian political activist. I hope his words give everyone solace and hope and pride and a reminder that we still have our constitution and we are still a nation of laws, no matter who we elect. There will be no apocalypse despite our fears; our future will await us when we awaken each morning.

He said, “That nervous feeling you have about tomorrow, Americans? That’s democracy working. Unpredictable elections, what a luxury!”

Jill Chapin

Jill Chapin has been a guest writer and columnist in several Los Angeles area papers for over fifteen years. She has written a bilingual parenting book titled, "If You Have Kids, Then Be a Parent!" and a children's book entitled, "My Magic Bubble."

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  1. What happened? Where does one begin. First off was the placement of HRC as the democratic party’s choice. So much baggage. 30+ years worth. Man was that a heavy load to ask a voter to carry and the ones that voted for her in the primaries were selfish. All of them were on a star struck and hitched their wagons together in the belief that she could and would win and then they would get theirs in return. While the left and right coast are enjoying their economic bubble the people in the middle were feeling squeezed out. And thus you get Trump. 4 years of Trump is weatherable, we have weathered the Bush’es. We have until 2020 to clean house on the National Democratic Committee. But at the end of the day we need to abolish the electoral college.

    • “But at the end of the day we need to abolish the electoral college.”

      Why would any incumbent ever support that, given that it have him/her victory? Even assuming that it was possible without a constitutional amendment.

      Also, if we elected President via the popular vote, then Trump would have campaigned differently, and so might easily have won anyway. Remember it wasn’t just the Presidency – the GOP kept the House and the Senate, and won various State races and assembles as well. It was a very broad victory.

  2. …dump the dems…they stand for nothing…except building luxury condos…and idolizing willie brown…dump them now.

  3. As the former Golden State Warrior Andrew Bogut put it, “You can’t only have a democracy when it swings your way.”

    • Which makes these “protests” so ridiculous. Protest a particular policy or action by all means, but don’t protest that we have democracy.

      • …what democracy?

  4. Jill, yes, this, as are most of your postings, was worth reading. We will have Donald J. Trump for President and I believe that he will surprise many who were against him. I believe he will be a temperate person with better deal making (read compromise) skills who will not give in to deals where only the US loses. I believe that the stories of his anti-woman, xenophobia and other extreme views will be proven to have been the work of media and political opponents. Thank you for posting this.

    • I am very worried for our nation. Trump has legitimized people to allow their true feelings to come out. If a president can say it: antisemitic, anti-hispanic, anti-muslim, disrespectful toward women. And on and on. Then people will think its okay for “me” to say it and act on it. Leslie

      • So you seek a society where people suppress their true feelings? No wonder Trump won.

        Interesting that the last article on this site was titled “GOP; RIP”. Guess not, huh?