The New Civil War

Donald Trump holds a press conference and then speaks at a lunch for the Staten Island GOP, April 17, 2016.
Donald Trump holds a press conference and then speaks at a lunch for the Staten Island GOP, April 17, 2016.
Donald Trump holds a press conference and then speaks at a lunch for the Staten Island GOP, April 17, 2016.

BY KAREN OCAMB  |  Early Wednesday morning, half of America cheered with unbridled glee and the other half stared at TV screens in shock as the Election Night tally of electoral votes confirmed that Reality TV star Donald Trump had decisively trounced former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, 279 to 228, to become President-Elect of the United States. However, by Wednesday afternoon, with votes still being counted, it appeared that Clinton won the popular vote, 59.16 million to Trump’s 59 million votes.

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That lead may extend even more significantly after California finishes counting vote-by-mail ballots over the next month. For example, Clinton beat Trump in usually conservative Orange County, by 39,000 votes (5%), the first time a Democrat has won the Nixon-Reagan stronghold since 1936.

The principles appeared high-minded before the cameras. Reading from a teleprompter, Trump promised  to “be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.”

And for the first time in months, Trump referred to Clinton as other than “crooked Hillary.” “Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country,” Trump said to applause in his mid-town New York City setting. “I mean that very sincerely. Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division; have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”

It was the professional thing to do, to call for unity. But with Trump’s documented history of blatant lies, it is hard to believe that suddenly this might be true. In fact, Trump lies gratuitously, for no reason whatsoever. For instance, last Monday, Nov. 7, the celebrity-loving Trump mocked the star-power drawn to Clinton’s campaign: “Beyonce and Jay Z, I like them, I like them … I get bigger crowds than they do. It’s true. I get far bigger crowds.” A statement PolitiFact rated “False.”

Later in his speech, Trump said, as if cribbing off one Clinton’s campaign stump lines: “Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”

Does he mean that? What about his promise to repeal President Obama’s executive orders, including DACA which encouraged 500,000 now terrified DREAMers to come out of the shadows believing they’d be protected from being deported to a country they’ve never known? And what about the executive orders pertaining to protections for transgender federal employees and integrating transgender servicemembers into the military?

Trump has had a bizarre reaction to transgender women. In April 2012, 23-year old model Jenna Talackova was refused entrance into a Miss Universe competition in Canada because she lied about being a “naturally born” woman. After Gloria Allred got involved, Trump and the pageant organizers backed down. However, in a 20/20 segment in 2012  with Barbara Walters, the real estate developer commented: “I looked at her name and somebody brought this up to me: ‘Jennatal.’ Those are the first letters of her name. And it’s ‘genital.’ And I’m saying to myself, ‘Hmm, that’s strange, could there be an ulterior motive?”

Allred countered on 20/20: “With all due respect to Mr. Trump, he really needs to stop being focused on genitals. His or anyone else’s. This world does not revolve around his penis or anyone else’s genitalia. Whether a person is a woman is not simply defined by her genitalia.”

This is well before the Access Hollywood “pussy” grabbing comment he described as “locker room” chat. But from his first campaign speech in which he called Mexicans “rapists” and criminals, Trump has had a penchant for name-calling and eviscerating political correctness – what used to be called civility and decency in behavior towards other human beings. The New York Times, in fact, printed two pages of 282 people, places and things Trump insulted on Twitter.

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That demolishing of civility, the polite behavior and manners that heretofore allowed people to “agree to disagree” without resorting to bullying or slurs was welcomed by the so-called “alt-right” and white supremacists who relished Trump often re-tweeting their right to threaten and hate in the name of free speech. Killing “faggots” included.

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Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke tweeted that Trump’s victory was theirs, too. “This is one of the most exciting nights of my life ->make not mistake about it, our people have played a HUGE roled in electing Trump! #MAGA”

Despite his lewd and hateful comments, white women voted for Trump more than Clinton (43% Clinton, 53% Trump in the NBC News Exit Poll)  and evangelicals Christians and Catholics voted for Trump by 58% and 52%, respectively, according to a New York Times exit poll.

According to Christianity Today, http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/november/trump-elected-president-thanks-to-4-in-5-white-evangelicals.html evangelicals showed up in their highest margins since 2004. That’s when Karl Rove put 11 anti-gay initiatives on state ballots to bring out evangelical voters for George W, Bush’s re-election.

“Despite reservations expressed by many evangelical and Republican leaders, white born-again/evangelical Christians cast their ballots for the controversial real estate mogul-turned-politician at an 81 percent to 16 percent margin over Hillary Clinton, the Christian media outlet reported.

“Evangelicals of color—who represent 2 in 5 evangelicals, but aren’t segmented out in most national political polls—largely preferred Clinton leading up to the election. But she ultimately underperformed among Hispanics and African Americans compared to President Barack Obama before her.”

The site also noted that “Trump did not mention God in his remarks. He is the first president in over 30 years to not conclude his speech with ‘God bless America..’”

And Trump almost forgot to thank his Vice President-elect, Mike Pence. The anti-LGBT former governor of Indiana was largely responsible for vouching for Trump with evangelicals and conservative Republicans who “came home” believing Trump will support a conservative Supreme Court justice who will overturn Roe v. Wade and marriage equality, as pledged in the Republican Party Platform.

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No one knows if Trump will keep his promises – or how, now that both chambers of Congress are in Republican control. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggests that Republican unity requires that they follow Trump’s lead, especially since Trump’s coattails helped keep the Senate and sweep many into the House. House Speaker Paul Ryan, who has had problems with the Trumpian Freedom Caucus, says Trump has a “mandate” to govern, but the House already has plans for him to follow. It’s not exactly the Republican Party torn asunder as many predicted – but there are still many Republicans who prize decency over ugly partisanship.

And some of them acknowledged how the Democrats handled the peaceful transition of government. As Michelle Obama said, “they go low, we go high,” which is what the president and Hillary Clinton did.
“We are all now rooting for his success in uniting and leading the country,” Obama said. “The peaceful transfer of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. And over the next few months we are going to show that to the world.”

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In her classy concession speech, Clinton said she offered with work with Trump “on behalf of our country.”

“I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans. This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for, and I’m sorry that we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country,” Clinton said, choking back tears. “I know how disappointed you feel, because I feel it too. And so do tens of millions of Americans who invested their hopes and dreams in this effort. This is painful, and it will be for a long time.”

“But I want you to remember this.Our campaign was never about one person, or even one election. It was about the country we love and building an America that is hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted. We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America, and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power,” she said.

“We don’t just respect that. We cherish it. It also enshrines the rule of law; the principle we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them,” Clinton said. “We’ve spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people from every corner of our country to say with one voice that we believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone—for people of all races, and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities. For everyone.

So now, our responsibility as citizens is to keep doing our part to build that better, stronger, fairer America we seek. And I know you will.”

According to the New York Times exit poll,  LGBTs turned out for Clinton by 78%, with 14% going for Trump. However, one wonders if that number could have been—should have been—higher. In their pre-election preview, the Human Rights Campaign said: “There are 9.4 million LGBTQ voters in the United States. Turnout among LGBTQ voters is also reliably high. In 2012, an astounding 81 percent of eligible LGB voters nationally cast a ballot, compared to just 58 percent of all eligible voters.

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This bloc was also a crucial piece of the puzzle for President Obama’s victory: in the last election, President Obama received 76 percent of all LGB votes, according to national exit polls. In total, roughly 6 million LGB voters cast a ballot in 2012 — an election President Obama won by just under 5 million votes. Polling this year showed Secretary Clinton’s support among LGBTQ voters is running even higher than President Obama (for example, this May poll showing 84 percent).”

But the upshot is: this is an even more divided America than anyone anticipated. And while Republicans come to terms with having persistent liar and con man Donald Trump as their standard-bearer – and now U.S. president – the Democratic Party is now at odds with itself over leadership, direction and how to work with the man who changes his mind frequently and without qualms about publicly cursing out an “enemy.”

“Anxiety was particularly deep among Hispanics, African-Americans, Muslims, immigrants, women and others who had felt disparaged or demonized by Mr. Trump, who at times used harsh and racially charged language in ways that upended mainstream politics. The very idea that Mr. Trump had been endorsed by a Ku Klux Klan newspaper — even if he rejected it — symbolized the sense of shock that he would now lead a vibrantly diverse democracy,” the New York Times reported.

“Asked how they would feel about a Trump presidency, more than a third of Americans said they would be frightened, exit polls found. Among those who voted for Hillary Clinton, the feeling was almost unanimous and reflected a deep divide: 92 percent said Mr. Trump scared them.”

Apparently white straight America-first people wanted change, wanted the miracles Trump promised to “make America Great Again.” The result is a new civil war between Trump power and minorities who are terrified about seeing their newly acquired rights stripped away. Who will prevail?

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