Sunday, January 22, 2017

illegitimate presidents

I have long worried about America's political polarization and hyper-partisanship. It is especially troubling that every president since 1992 has been viewed as fundamentally illegitimate by many in the political opposition -- Bill Clinton for winning with only 43% of the vote and for  later impeachable conduct; George W. Bush for taking office despite fewer votes than his main rival and only after a questionable decision by a politicized Supreme Court; and Barack Obama because so many people falsely believed -- and still believe -- that he was not born on U.S. soil. Now we have Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote by a sizable margin in an election where FBI statements and Russian hacking may have played decisive roles.

Journalism professor Andres Martinez documents this sad phenomenon in the Washington Post, but offers no remedies. Nor can I. It probably doesn't help for Cong. John Lewis [D-Ga.] to call Trump an illegitimate president, but it probably doesn't hurt either since doubts are already widespread.

What's even sadder is the distrust that has grown up among ourselves with large fractions in each party saying that the other party is dangerous to America and claiming that they wouldn't want their children to marry someone who voted differently.

I guess we need some trust-building and civility reinforcing efforts before we descend into hatred and violence.

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