Monday, November 14, 2016

Not just a licking

Dear Ms. Garchik:

Your column this morning, entitled "When your side takes a licking," begins:

The task before us is to shed the us-versus-them mind-set.  The election is over, and unification is needed.  When we get down to specifics, political differences are mere skirmishes.  Americans, let us go forth to bridge the divide between ice cream lovers who prefer mint chip and those who prefer Chunky Monkey.

I agree with you on the importance of bridging divides.  But in this case, we're talking not about two divides, but three.   And it's not mint chip, Chunky Monkey and strawberry.

I believe the majority of Americans who need to channel their anger and come together fall into three camps.  In one camp are the serious Trump supporters who carried the day. And by "serious" I mean those with a gripe against "the system," "the elites," "the 1%", or however you characterize them.  I'm not talking about the white supremacists Hillary was referring to when she used the word "deplorables."  Frankly, I don't know how you reach these people.  In the second camp are the Bernie Sanders supporters who were underestimated and shut out by their Democratic Party leaders.  And the third camp consists of the mainstream Democrats who fell in behind Hillary, who tried to sell her as the lesser of two evils, but couldn't pull it off.  Three groups means we need three bridges.  Fine.  Let's get to it.

But your suggestion that the differences are "mere skirmishes" makes me wonder if you've been paying attention to what all sides agree was the dirtiest political campaign in modern American history.  When one side says the the American way is to grant all citizens full rights regardless of race, creed or ethnicity and the other side says a man cannot be a judge because his parents are Mexican, that is not a skirmish.  It's a confrontation between the rule of law and bigotry.

The incoming Vice-President posted on his web page the view that "Congress should oppose any effort to put gay and lesbian relationships on an equal legal status with heterosexual marriages," while the majority of Americans rejoiced at the Supreme Court decision to grant same-sex marriages, noting the discrimination against gays in the past.  That too is not a skirmish.  It's a confrontation between a historically oppressed minority of American citizens and a man who would call that oppression justified.  To compare these differences of opinion to ice cream preferences is cruelly insulting, to say the least.  Mint Chip vs. Chunky Monkey?  Respect for the rights of Mexicans and gays?  Really, Ms. Garchik?

Hillary won the support of American voters by something like a million and a half votes, by latest count.  She did not become president because we have to abide by our system of having electors, not voters, have the final say.  

It's not about one side "taking a licking."  Ours is a nation characterized by profound injustice in its political system.  It's about one side losing to a leader who has promised to roll back efforts to stop the destruction of the environment, to shut down solar power research and burn more coal, who pretends that black people have not been treated far worse by police than white people have, and who encourages the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

We haven't just "taken a licking."  We have regressed terribly.  We now have to contend with a setback in the fight against racism, sexism, homophobia, and abuse of the vulnerable.  We may argue over why this happened. But we should not trivialize or minimize what has just happened.

The article in question is from the San Francisco Chronicle, Datebook Section, Monday, November 14, 2016, p. E6.  It was written by Leah Garchik.  Her e-mail is:  Twitter:@leahgarchik

1 comment:

Alan McCornick said...

Ms. Garchik responds (used with permission):

I abhor Donald Trump. And I think that perhaps there will be a time when we have to hit the streets and fight. But it’s not now, to my mind. It’s when he DOES something that is abhorrent to us (likely he WILL). I just think it would be playing his game to protest the outcome of the election. The thing is to protest what the man does.

I really do appreciate your taking the time to write such a thoughtful letter, and maybe I shouldn’t have painted it in light-hearted terms. I sure don’t feel lighthearted.