It is one thing to analyze the results of the 2016 election after November 8th. It is quite another thing to recap the results of the November 8th election on September 29, but here goes.
As the 2016 election season has finally come to an end, the message for this election season should have been “America finally gets it right.” Sadly, however, that is not the most significant message coming out of this election period.
Yes, Maryland will be sending Chris Van Hollen to the Senate and he will, no doubt, become one of the finest and most effective members of the Senate. His record of achievement speaks for itself. We can all expect that he will bring to the Senate in January the same passion he had in the House on such issues as gun safety, campaign finance reform and controlling carbon emissions. His election also indicated that the voters rejected the claim by his Republican opponent, Kathy Szeliga, that she is a “Republican Barbara Mikulski.” Clearly, the voters were looking for a candidate that shared Senator Mikulski’s positions on such key issues as the environment, gun safety and campaign finance reform and not a candidate who simply shared the same restroom.
Filling his vacated seat in Congress will be State Sen. Jamie Raskin, one of the most knowledgeable Constitutional scholars we have in this country. How absolutely refreshing to have a member of Congress who actually knows and understands the Constitution as thoroughly and extensively as Jamie Raskin! Having someone with that degree of knowledge can only serve to reduce the usual misrepresentation by Congressmen of the Constitution, particularly the First and Second Amendments.
Regarding the Second Amendment, his Republican opponent, Dan Cox, has stated that he is of the opinion that the Holocaust would have had a different ending if the Jews of Nazi Germany were armed. This view more than likely lost him some votes among voters with some semblance of understanding of the Holocaust and the events leading up to it and who, accordingly, understood just how absurd that position is. One can only hope that if the local police knocked on the door to Mr. Cox’s home and instructed him to come with them, his first reaction would not be to go for his AK-47. If it was, the Green Party candidate may find herself moving up on the November 8th ballot.
And, last, but by no means least, we now have the very first female as our president, Hillary Rodham Clinton who, in my opinion, will turn out to be one of our finest presidents. Few before her have brought with them to the presidency the breadth of knowledge and experience in both domestic and foreign affairs that she had gained over the many years of her public service particularly in her roles as U.S. Senator and Secretary of State.
Yet, the message of the 2016 elections is not as much about America eventually getting it right; the message of this election campaign turned out to be about how close this nation came to so disastrously getting it wrong!
Yes, we learned once again that adding all of the minorities together will give us the new majority. We also learned once again that campaigning to the extreme right during the primaries makes it quite difficult to undo the damage when competing for the middle during the general election. Being the racist voice of the “birther” movement can not be easily undone by simply quoting Emily Litella and saying “Never mind!”
No, the much more significant message of this election campaign was about how we went about giving ourselves the option of electing the absolutely least qualified individual ever to run for the presidency who also happened to be a misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, thin-skinned demagogue. Please feel free to add in any other appropriate adjectives you like.
This election, as much if not more than anything, was about one of our two major political parties sending to our voters an individual whose entire campaign from the primaries through the general election consisted of elementary school name-calling and insults. If we wanted Don Rickles as president, we would have drafted him.
From mocking a disabled reporter, to claiming a judge of Mexican heritage was incapable of being fair because “I’m building a wall”, to referring to Megyn Kelly’s menstrual cycle, to insulting John McCain for being captured in Vietnam, to claiming to see Muslims celebrating 9/11 in the streets of Jersey City, to tweeting clearly erroneous crime statistics, to not being capable of taking the high road when he was verbally attacked by the parents of a fallen war hero, to not rejecting the well-intentioned offer of a purple heart and, by not doing so, made it all too clear how little he understands about true sacrifice, to offering an apology without indicating for what, exactly, although, from the list above there are certainly enough to choose from, this election will be remembered as none before it.
It was about a candidate whose simplistic approach to anyone and anything was to place them in one of only two categories: has the individual “said nice things about me” (even Vladimir Putin) and, thereby, merit placement on the candidate’s good guy list OR has the individual or media outlet questioned him on anything he, himself, has already said and, thereby, place that individual on his bad guy list.
It was about a major party candidate who, while name-calling his opponents, became highly offended when his opponents used his own words against him.
No, the message that we must all take from the 2016 elections is, in this democracy of ours, how easy it is for our election to be reduced to a choice not between differing ideologies but, rather, between choosing an adult or a petulant, spoiled little brat.
With true democracy comes responsibility and every one of us must never take that responsibility lightly, certainly not as lightly as too many of us took in 2016.