BY VERN TURNER
The previous essay in this series defined betrayal and some of the aspects and realities where those betrayals insult people who actually have faith in others, a system or a culture. Have any of you experienced reaching out to someone you thought was your friend and they didn’t reach back? How about those folks who say to you that they really like you and find you interesting, then never call again? Or how about coming home to your significant other or spouse and learning that they are leaving you for another? Sure. We’ve all had to endure those betrayals and have found our way through life despite those very personal betrayals. We could do this because we were in charge of our lives.
But what happens when one is not in charge? How do you manage betrayals from those in whom you’ve placed trust and faith to represent you and your needs in the broader sense? Those betrayals can come from your local government, your state government or your national government. Each of us has to decide how much impact that betrayal has on our lives, before the next election … at least in the United States and other democracies. The pregnant question becomes: What happens when the elections don’t allow the majority of the people to be represented by their votes and their choices are somehow voided by some peculiarity … like the Electoral College in American politics?
This archaic institution is part of our Constitution and only applies to the presidential election. It was, theoretically, put in place to prevent some unhinged lunatic from somehow becoming president. The Founders favored educated people’s opinions more so than the un-educated majority. They didn’t think those folks could make uninformed decisions.
The results throughout our history are mixed, but the last two times the Electoral College trumped [sorry] the majority vote brought us a terrible administration and now one that is thrashing with its own confusion about governing the executive branch of our government.
Al Gore defeated George W. Bush by about 500,000 votes, but couldn’t overcome the Supreme Court’s ruling that Florida didn’t have to re-count or count all its ballots and handed the election to Bush. The economic crash, two misguided invasions and poorly managed wars without end, tax giveaways to the wealthy, the great giveaway to the drug companies, the wasteful Department of Homeland Security, the virtual elimination of the Fourth Amendment and all the rest, were the consequences of that court decision.
Now, the Trump Administration-in-waiting has obtained electoral victory, but lost the popular vote by over two million [and still counting] to Hillary Clinton. This is where real betrayal starts to affect us all: The Founders couldn’t have imagined someone like Donald Trump – unless, of course, they looked into the George III closet and found all those personal issues. Maybe they did and thus created the Electoral College to prevent a neo-fascist from becoming president due to their idea of uninformed voters.
Did they betray the voters with the Electoral College? Not really. What they did was create a way to diminish the power of one person-one vote. They didn’t feel that was a betrayal. They thought it was a check on who might run for the office. They were mistaken. In 2016, the failure of the Electoral College manifested itself big time.
Donald Trump campaigned on all sorts of planks of hate, bigotry, bad economics, lies and a variety of statements about health care and taxes. He ran as a Republican. Republicans say they want to cut spending. Trump said he wanted to create infrastructure jobs and expand the military. That requires spending. Trump said he wanted to cut taxes for corporations a lot and a little for everyone else. Republicans say they hate and fear deficits. Trump’s plan increases those deficits greatly. Are the Republicans saying they’ve been betrayed? No. They want to cut social services of all sorts to reduce that deficit. Are you still awake?
The first betrayal of the GOP by Trump came right away when he said he was going to keep the key aspects of ObamaCare. Next came his backing off of withdrawing from the Paris environmental accords. But these are just words. Let’s look at who he has picked as part of his team.
Trump says he wants to unite the country and put aside all divisiveness. Then, he hires the No. 1 divider in the country, Steve Bannon, to be his top political adviser. Hmm. Then, he hires the former attorney general of Alabama as the AG for the entire nation. Looking at Jeff Session’s record in office shows him to be almost as backward-thinking as Mike Pence, the VP-elect. I think we can expect a lot of disharmony between the different demographics in America from this appointment. Nikki Haley will probably do a great job at the UN, even though Trump once said we should leave it and NATO because we were paying too much of the freight.
Finally, the most recent and most egregious betrayal of our American heritage occurred during the last week of November. Trump tapped Betsy DeVos as secretary of education. He picked her because she contributed millions of dollars to his campaign and has been a rightwing, extremist activist in launching private charter schools in Michigan. Her family founded Amway, the illegal pyramid scheme that compromised courts had to deal with at length. Her brother also founded Blackwater Securities, the people who were allowed to gun down Iraqis outside of the military supervision to whom they were supposed to have answered.
Oh, and the DeVoses are also part of the Koch Brothers’ star chamber that continues to plot having their oligarchy replace democracy in our land.
What Trump has done with this horrifying appointment is feed the heart of our children’s future into the jaws of the wolf of greed and profit. How’s that for betrayal?
This latest move insults the spirit and letter of the founding documents and those who wrote them. Thomas Jefferson must be weeping in his crypt to see this marvelous institution of public schools go glimmering to some bottom line in some boardroom in some Trump Tower. I know, I know, it sounds like another blast of doom and gloom from this author, but Trump’s actions are now speaking louder, much louder than his words.
I wonder how much betrayal all parts of our nation will endure before they come to their senses and take democracy back from the neo-fascists and the neo-Nazis who think they’ve been enabled by the Trump phenomenon. Anyone watching and reading the news, who still has a thread of real patriotism in their being, must be shuddering at what they’re seeing.
The Trump presidency-to-be is founded on betrayal; the betrayal of their own supporters and voters and the betrayal to the founders, the Constitution and to the children of the parents who voted. Those among the 47% of registered voters who didn’t vote and allowed this looming horror show are also part of the betrayal. They thumbed their noses at the thousands of white headstones around the world standing sentinel over those who died protecting that right to vote.
Remember, the Third Reich began with the minority election of the National Socialists. The people never imagined that things could go as wrong as they did. The Jews figured it out early, and many who had the means, left everything behind and moved elsewhere.
Today, our Muslims – and, to a lesser extent, the Jews – must be feeling many of the same feelings of betrayal in our country. By the time the German people realized what they’d done [allowed the Nazis to take complete control of the government], it was too late. There were no more elections.
Be ever vigilant. Be ready to fight for your democracy. We just had our “Holy Crap” moment. Let us all learn from history and act now before it’s too late.
“First they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew … ”
– Vern Turner lives in Marble Falls, TX and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer. His latest book, Racing to the Brink: The End Game for Race and Capitalism, is available through Amazon.com.