It was Sunday, November 10, 1968 and earlier that week, Richard Milhaus Nixon had been elected President of the United States, crushing his Democrat opponent, incumbent Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey. I was feeling celebratory and for my postlude at church I played the Toccata from Charles Marie Widor’s Fifth Organ Symphony – an impressive piece which sounds far more difficult than it actually is. Here is a performance given by James Kennerley, an outstanding young British organist played appropriately on the console at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
As an organist, I was used to finishing my final piece, gathering up my music from the music stand and leaving church to find only a small handful of people remaining who had taken the time and had the interest to listen to it. On this particular Sunday, one of the faithful was a woman who was still praying, tears falling from her eyes. I knew her. One of her sons was in my children’s choir.
I walked down the center aisle of the nave, genuflected and joined her on the kneeler on which she was praying. I turned to her, put my arm around her shoulder and asked her, “Betty, are you all right?”
Betty, through her sobbing, said, “I just don’t understand it. I voted for Humphrey. My neighbors all voted for Humphrey. My relatives all voted for Humphrey. So, who voted for Nixon?”
Hyde Park in Chicago was a very liberal neighborhood. And Betty, a white woman who had married a black man in the 1950’s, long before this was either generally accepted not to mention chic, was typical in her mind-set. She, and many others of my neighbors all exemplified that marvelous statement that William F. Buckley made when he said, “Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.”
As a young person, many of my friends and neighbors were surprised to find that I was supporting Nixon in that election. And they were always willing to debate me with the intent of changing my mind and bringing me over to their side. They failed in that endeavor – but after the many debates in which I engaged, while I could tell that they had a sense of frustration as I would rebut their arguments, we still remained friends, there was no acrimony on either side and we left with the same feeling of respect for each other that we had before we argued our respective positions. That sense of open and sincere discussion seems to be something that we’ve lost. And that’s a tragedy.
I must confess to a little confusion that those who identify as “liberals” are so upset that Donald J. Trump will be the United States’ forty-fifth president. These are the same people who believe that every child, irrespective of performance, should receive a sticker or a trophy. These are the people who believe that you shouldn’t keep score because it might fatally impair the psyche of those who come out on the short end of the stick. Remarkably, now that the game is over and we know the result, they want to change the rules under which the game was played to affect the outcome so that their losing team wins. That’s the sort of behavior that I’ve observed among two-year olds who are throwing a hissy fit so that they can get their way. And if we deem that sort of behavior unacceptable in toddlers, how much more should we consider it untenable in people who are actually determining the nation’s future in voting in our elections?
One of the arguments advanced in the recent riots over Trump’s victory and the “Not My President” signs is that Hillary Clinton won (barely) the popular vote and should, therefore, be our next president. That, of course, begins the debate with the assumption that the Electoral College is antiquated, should have been abolished eons ago and we should disregard the Constitution.
Although there are many valid reasons why I believe we should retain the Electoral College, the fact is that under our current system, it exists. To put it in the way in which many who are Pro-Abortion explain and support the decision in Roe v. Wade, “It’s the law of the land.”
This argument for a popular vote to determine the outcome of presidential elections further makes an unprovable assumption. That the popular vote, as recorded, would have been the same popular vote the candidates would have received if it, rather than the Electoral College’s vote, determined the winner. Both the losing Clinton and successful Trump campaigns developed their strategies based on the rules that governed the election – to secure 270 or more electoral votes. If our system called for the election of the next president based on the popular vote, both campaigns would have run their campaigns differently, camping out in all the large population states. virtually ignoring the rest of the country. Incidentally, that is the exact reason that the Founders established the Electoral College – so that small states would have a voice in our elections.
If we were to go back in time and rewrite history, (a favorite exercise of those on the left) we would have to crown different World Series winners by determining the victor as that team which got the most hits during the series rather than the most runs. We would have different Super Bowl victors if we determined the best performance based on which team gained the most yards rather than put up the most points.
I do understand how shocked those on the left were as the results rolled in on election night. I myself was startled at the outcome – and had made a sojourn to my local liquor store to buy a very large bottle of my favorite Scotch to drown my sorrow as I awaited the announcement that Hillary Clinton was going to be our next president.
It took me forty-six years of voting before I ever cast a ballot for someone who actually won his race for the House of Representatives. So I had a lot of sucking up and disappointment in many, many elections. But I never felt either the urge or need to go out and express my displeasure by lighting trash cans on fire or vandalizing parked cars. My father had a simple piece of advice for handling the disappointments which he knew would come my way in life. “Deal with it – and learn from it.” But I suspect the left’s concern and need to find safe spaces may merely be in its infancy.
Despite the firm predictions that the Dems would regain the Senate and pick up twenty or so seats in the House, (not to mention installing one of their own in the White House), those predictions from such moral and mental geniuses as Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid, did not come to pass. For the first time in eighty-eight years we now have a Republican president, a Republican controlled House and a Republican dominated Senate. And that is good for the American people.
Members of both parties have hidden behind the excuse that nothing gets done because of “divided government.” That excuse no longer is available. Legislators on both sides of the aisle and President-elect Trump will be judged by what they accomplish – or fail to accomplish. I’m betting my money that Trump’s rhetoric is not merely a bunch of words – but are born from a sincere and earnest, heartfelt love of this nation and a belief that we can and should be doing better for all our citizens. We will see.
But if I am correct and if Donald Trump is half as talented and driven as I believe him to be, the liberal left may be in for bigger headaches two years from now. In the mid-term election, they will be defending twenty-five Senate seats, twelve of which are in deep red states. If they think their position now is tenuous, they may be looking at a Republican Senate super majority two years hence. But, as this is America, there is reason for them to be optimistic.
Instead of concocting excuses for their failed results at the ballot boxes across the nation, they can choose to, “Deal with it – and learn from it.” Whether they do that or not is any body’s guess. But in the real world, we don’t hand out stickers or trophies to the loser. Instead, they generally wind up sporting a black eye.