Before the election I asked some friends, “On a scale of one to 10, how angry will Democrats be if Hillary loses?”
The answer is 15.
In fairness, no one – except the guys who fix my car – saw it coming. It would be shocking if Democrats, so sure of victory, weren’t gob smacked by defeat. I have tried to avoid discussing politics since the election, and have resisted (for the most part) the urge to challenge irate friends. I get it. It will take time.
Nevertheless, the bitter scaremongering expressed by many of our fellow citizens is frightening. Immediately taking to the streets – sometimes violently – to protest the results of a free and fair election is shameful. It is not an expression of democracy, but its antithesis.
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The anti-Trump crowds are becoming the mobs they have warned us about. In North Carolina, you might have to go back to 1898 to find such ugliness presented as nobility.
Politics makes hypocrites of us all, which explains how those against GOP opposition to Obama refuse to give Trump a chance.
Still, what happened to going high when they go low? Instead we have #notmypresident.
My concern is that Democrats may be incapable of taking the high road. It is a big tent party, but it is also dangerously intolerant: you either submit to their vision or you are un-American. That’s why every meaningful effort to muzzle free speech – including the current campaign to censor the web in the name of controlling “fake news” – comes from the left.
It starts at the top, with President Obama. Breaking with tradition and decorum during the campaign he didn’t just support Hillary but cast Trump as a stupid bigot. It was one thing for Hillary to denounce Trump; she was a private citizen running a tough campaign. It was another for the nation’s leader – who must trust the goodness and wisdom of the American people and the strength of our institutions – to delegitimize the man who might lead our country.
Obama has continued his attacks since the election, attributing Trump’s victory to angry lies. And he has indicated that he will reject the noble tradition of refusing to criticize his successor upon leaving office.
What gives? Has the nation that elected its first black president just eight years ago, that has embraced gay marriage and continues to welcome millions of legal immigrants, turned so vicious?
A better explanation is that Democrats are playing their one and only card – divisive identity politics powered by a Pope-like sense of infallibility. Their core conviction is that they are virtuous and right. People only oppose them out of hate and ignorance.
Thus, the barrage of post-election stories trumpeting isolated examples of racist graffiti, nasty comments and alleged KKK marches along with the effort to smear every Trump appointment as a storm trooper devoted to white supremacy.
There are some really bad people out there – on both sides. They are a sliver of a fraction of a tiny minority.
Most telling is one of the main lines of attack, repeated on these pages last Wednesday: that Trump supporters are “mostly non-college-educated white males.” In fact, exit poll data from the New York Times shows that Trump won 42 percent of the female vote.
He lost the college educated vote by just four points. Hillary’s strongest support came from those making $50,000 a year or less. Trump won every other income group.
He also won 29 percent of the Latino and Asian votes, 24 percent of the Jewish vote and 29 percent of those who do not identify as Catholic, Protestant or Jewish – i.e. presumably a meaningful slice of the Muslim vote.
Those numbers are inconvenient truths for Democrats, who cast every group save white males as victims under relentless attack. They focus on Trump’s allegedly ignorant and angry white male supporters because their ideology cannot explain how anyone else would oppose them.
And Trump is not the only victorious Republican. The Democrats have suffered historic defeats at almost every level of government since 2008, including 63 House seats, 10 Senate seats and 12 governorships and more than 900 state legislators.
As the victor, Trump must do even more to reach out to the bitter and aggrieved. He is their leader, too. Let’s hope he exceeds expectations. If he doesn’t, four years is not an eternity.
In the meantime we the people should redouble our efforts to embrace the liberal values of diversity, tolerance, empathy and respect.
Contributing columnist J. Peder Zane can be reached at jpederzane@ jpederzane.com.