By Jill Chapin
January 25, 2017
Please don’t be frightened by our country’s latest presidential election. As you know, nearly 3 million more people voted for his opponent than they did for him. This should give you some solace knowing that most of us are not exactly comfortable with the outcome either. You may fear as many of us do, that our new leader demonstrates an aggrieved personality that is cause for alarm. But I would encourage you to be patient that our strong but wounded democracy will someday – hopefully soon – restore your faith in us.
With all three branches of our government under the control of the Republican party, it would be easy to feel as we do that we are about to be inundated by a tsunami of decisions that could be alarming for even those of you who live many time zones and oceans away.
I imagine that you are most greatly concerned by the erosion of facts and truth that are sounding more and more Orwellian each day. Mr. Trump encases himself with superlatives; anything about him is the best, anyone who questions him is handled with scathingly negative superlatives – the worst, the biggest failure. Surrounded by sycophants who support his fragile ego further insulate him from the real world. It is supremely ironic that the star of a reality TV show has such a loathing of reality.
His latest departure from truth is evidenced by his continuing to dwell on the election’s popular vote, which can only be attributed to his obsessive need to be loved, respected and admired in colossal enormousness. Yet here he is, the leader of the free world, and he still doesn’t seem confident in his own place in it. His hanging on to every slight or negative commentary about him is overshadowing the tremendous amount of decisions he has made in just a few days of his brand new administration. That should be the narrative; instead he drags us down with him to wallow in his unnecessary and decidedly un-presidential insecurities that are beginning to agitate even his supporters. Especially when he tries to rewrite history to make himself feel better about himself.
But today, I found a glimmer of hope when a prominent Republican United States senator from the state of South Carolina spoke about Mr. Trump’s latest claim that millions here in the United States voted illegally, stubbornly continuing to insist that there was massive voter fraud in our recent presidential election. I was so stunned by what Senator Graham said that I rewound the interview and wrote it down, word for word.
“The President of the United States is claiming that three to three and a half million people voted illegally. That shakes confidence in our democracy. He needs to disclose why he believes that. I don’t believe that. It is the most inappropriate thing for the president to say without proof. Al Gore walked away, based on five or six hundred votes. Richard Nixon lost a very close election. We’re talking about a man who won the election and seems to be obsessed with the idea that he could not have possibly lost the popular vote without cheating and fraud. So I would urge the president to knock this off. This is the greatest democracy on earth. You’re the leader of the free world and people are going to start doubting you as a person if you keep making accusations against our electoral system without justification. This is going to erode his ability to govern this country if he does not stop it.”
This small but powerful beacon of light could not have come from a more surprising place. Senator Graham spent the past eight years denigrating President Obama and all things for which the Democratic Party stood. But there he was, on the record, speaking in a non-partisan measured tone, speaking not as a party faithful but sounding like a respected statesman, speaking first and foremost for the country he must dearly love if he risked the wrath of a petty, thin-skinned president who will surely berate him for what he said.
If one person can stand up and speak the truth, then hopefully others in power will feel emboldened to do the same. This president needs to man up and move on from all real and perceived slights. If we fail to steer him clear of himself and his obsession with his popularity, then those values that Superman championed – truth, justice and the American way – will be challenged as never before.