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Dewey defeats Truman

By Daniel Freedman

Section: Opinions

November 11, 2016

We will not go gentle into the night—because we will be dragged there screaming by an orange Oompa-Loompa and his congressional henchmen.

To the chagrin of the pundits and pollsters, anything is possible. When it came to predicting the president, maybe we would have been better off listening to the maniac on the street corner with a sign proclaiming the end is nigh than a bespectacled analyst in a suit.

To be fair, I too had a hard time believing this outcome was possible: President Trump? It has the campy feel of a prequel to “Idiocracy,” except without any of the humor.

In the name of candor, I must admit that on some base level of spite, a part of me wanted this outcome, if only to show the Trump hardliners the brand of ineptitude and megalomania they have backed. What will come of this nation, I don’t know. But like a 1930s citizen of a free democracy watching the rise of partisan nationalism turn into jingoism, I too start to wonder: What’s the worst that could happen?

Thankfully, on a campus such as this I need not make the connection to the disastrous implications of this election—that Trump will control the armies, diplomacy, both houses of Congress and the Supreme Court. You may ask yourself, what’s the worst that a Trump presidency could spell? Or maybe you delude yourself into comfort by thinking Congress won’t go along with with Trump’s plans. Don’t be too hasty. Most Republicans have been towing the party line, right up through Paul Ryan. Trump has majority support.

In the face of horrendous defeat, let us at least take something away so that this is not for nothing. Let this inspire democracy to take flight and be encouragement to vote, and to vote pragmatically.

I am not a supporter of a two-party system, but when there are two parties that compete, a choice must be made. I have argued before, and I will argue again, that a third-party vote is a “feel-good” vote that states your dissatisfaction with the choices at hand, but makes no choice at all. This election came down to the margin of the third-party candidate’s votes in many states—that third party, moral abstention may have decided the election.

Worse yet are those who decided both candidates were equally repulsive and did not vote. I find it hard to believe that both candidates evoke the same level of disgust and fear; I have long since been tired of the false equivalency drawn between the real Republican, Clinton, and the neo-fascist, Trump. If you don’t vote and make a choice, someone will make it for you, and very likely it won’t be an informed vote. This outcome immediately brings to mind the words of Winston Churchill: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” And to those “Bernie or Bust” voters who abstained on the grounds that their primary candidate of choice did not proceed: looks like it was bust. We could have landed safely on a soft 17, but no.

At the end of the day, the popular vote did swing in favor of Clinton, to which we might respond with Trump-like rhetoric that the system is rigged, or that therein lies the problem. The electoral college is a deeply flawed system, right next to gerrymandered congressional districts, but the real problem is that he won. This election should have been a landslide denunciation of abhorrent rhetoric and policy, but instead winter is coming.

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