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Saturday, December 31, 2016

What Was Really Lost in the Election

Do you know what lost in this year's presidential election? 

No, not the Hillary Clinton campaign or the Democratic party. Here is what really was lost: truth, integrity, tolerance, diversity, compassion, inclusiveness, science and fact. 

The biggest loser in this campaign was the truth. While people expect politicians to lie and to say whatever they think will help them get elected, Trump took lying to an entirely new level. According to an article in the Washington Post on Nov. 4, "Trump repeatedly made claims that were mind-boggling. He said the unemployment rate was 42 percent when it was really 5 percent. He claimed there were 92 million jobless Americans, a number that included everybody who didn't want to work, such as retirees and students. He even said he could ave $300 billion/year on a Medicare prescription drug program. Trouble is, this program costs only $78 billion per year." Ooops!

Hillary Clinton also told her share of lies, mostly about her private e-mail server, that its use was permitted, and that she hadn't sent or received any classified information. Um, not exactly. She also claimed that she had tried to join the Marines just before she married Bill Clinton but was turned down — and that she had come under fire while in Bosnia. Neither of these statements is true.

And how about Trump's insistence that he saw thousands of Muslims in New York/New Jersey celebrating the collapse of the World Trade Centers on Sept. 11, 2001.  Those celebrations never happened. He denied starting the 'birther' movement that claimed that Barack Obama wasn't born in the United States, instead blaming it on Hillary Clinton. He repeatedly denied making certain statements despite numerous witnesses and video recordings of him making those very statements. Then he attacked the news media for being 'unfair' to him.

Statistics and facts also fell victim to the truth. For example, Trump claimed that 58 percent of black youth were unemployed. The actual number was less than 20 percent. He claimed that more Hispanics lived in poverty under Obama. In reality, the number has decreased. He claimed that the murder rate is the highest in 45 years. In reality, the murder rate is about half  what it was during the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The Post article continues, "While campaigning for president, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) loved to tell the story of an elderly man sitting in prison for 10 years — just for putting dirt on his land. But just about every aspect of Paul’s recounting was inaccurate and misleading. The man was convicted for his role in developing 67 mobile home lots inside federally protected wetlands, building on wetlands without approval and knowingly selling land with illegal sewage systems that were likely to fail."

So yes, there are many, many examples of how the truth, facts and integrity lost in this campaign. Candidates apparently had no qualms about stretching the truth and telling some real whoppers. Even if fact-checking organizations reported the lies, the candidates' supporters apparently didn't care.

Tolerance and civility were other victims of this campaign. Protesters who dared attend a Trump rally were ridiculed and often physically attacked before being thrown out for daring to oppose the dictator-in-waiting. Trump loved to invent demeaning names for his political opponents: 'Little Marco' Rubio, 'Lyin Ted' Cruz and so on. The collective intelligence of the nation appears to have taken a hit as well, given the number of people who believed every lie that was told. 

Since the election, hate crimes against minorities have skyrocketed. White supremacist groups are holding rallies giving the Nazi salute. And so far the appointees are, surprise, more old, white men. The appointee for US attorney general is a known racist. So much for diversity in the new administration.

Compassion also went out the window, as Trump publicly mocked a disabled reporter, as well as making fun of the appearance of various women. And who can forget his ongoing battle with the family of a young Muslim-American soldier who died fighting for his country, or his Twitter war with a former Miss Universe whom he called "Miss Housekeeper" because of her Latin heritage? And what about Republican plans to slash Social Security benefits and turn Medicare into a voucher system that will drastically reduce coverage for millions of senior citizens? And let us not forget their plans to cancel the Affordable Care Act (i.e., 'Obamacare'), thereby leaving tens of millions of Americans with no medical insurance. Where is the compassion in that?

Trump has nominated a climate-change denier to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. His vice president opposes the teaching of evolution in favor of creationism. So science and facts are other victims. 

There is a growing backlash against these appointees, and people are beginning to challenge those who voted for Trump but claim they aren't racists. If they aren't racists and if they are not speaking out against the growing incidence of hate crimes, they at the very least condone the racist, homophobic, misogynistic comments of Trump and his minions. If they don't support these disturbing statements and trends, they need to speak out against these actions and sentiments.

Yes, all of these things lost when Trump won the electoral college vote, despite losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes. But the biggest loser of all is America. We are now the laughing stock of the world (except for Russia, which helped engineer Trump's 'victory.') I have heard from friends in Kenya, Ireland, France and England who are appalled and frightened at the prospect of an America led by someone who claims to be smarter than everyone else, more knowledgeable than all the top generals and who doesn't need the daily intelligence briefings traditionally provided both to the sitting and incoming president.

So yes, America, we all lost. By the time his followers figure out what this psycho is really about, it may be too late. I can only hope that people, particularly members of Congress, will come to their senses and act, for once, in the best interests of this country, not the party.