The primary emotion of the electorate during this election has been anger. There’s been angry rhetoric and bitter discourse, hateful accusations and blatant untruths. Many supporters of Donald Trump have been referred to as angry white men, disillusioned with a country that has seemed to pass them by, embracing Trump not because he had anything positive to offer, but for his promise to shake up, if not tear down, the system. He found he could say almost anything and get away with it, since the main purpose of his campaign was really not to “make America great again”, but to create a base of energized and emotional supporters who would believe him and follow him no matter what.
Trump supporters feel abandoned by the system that many of them helped vote into place by backing Republicans who have been unwilling to work with President Obama to get things accomplished for the good of the country. As a result we have Trump.
Hillary Clinton followed the practice of former Republican Secretary of State Powell of using his private email server for State Department business, and she got skewered in a never-ending controversy that continues to effect the election, despite her being a candidate whom most people agree is more than qualified to be president. It’s amazing, actually, how the Republicans have taken one seemingly minor issue, infused it with ugly slogans, and stretched it into a years-long witch hunt.
Then there were the police shootings of African Americans in the streets of America’s cities, leading to justifiable frustration and anger expressed through the Black Lives Matter movement. Donald Trump, in turn, denounced the very term Black Lives Matter as racist, while claiming that he’d be a much better president for black people.
Seeing that he was falling well behind in the polls, largely due to his lack of self-control and poor debate performances, Trump further riled up his supporters by claiming that the election is rigged. He urged them to “watch” the polls during voting and to do anything necessary to stop so-called election fraud. Trump is inciting them to suppress legitimate votes, mainly those of people of color, despite their having no authority to do so and with no evidence that voter fraud even exists, at least near the levels where it could even begin to be a problem. Yet Trump has continued to repeat this distorted message.
Trump is using tried and true Republican techniques for suppressing the vote. Republicans in control of their statehouses use their power to restrict voter registration, gerrymander voting district boundaries (which Democrats have done over the years, as well), attempt to pass laws requiring voter ID, and generally make it more difficult for people to vote. They have made polling places difficult to access in some areas, resulting in voters having to travel further and wait in long lines in order to cast their ballots. Conservative justices on the Supreme Court already did their part by ending key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, giving Republicans more latitude to suppress the African American and Hispanic vote.
And now just over a week to go before the election, F.B.I Director James Comey has decided to reveal, possibly illegally, the existence of yet more potential Clinton emails recovered from former Congressman Anthony Weiner’s computer that the F.B.I. is examining. Despite stating in July that the investigation was closed, Comey is investigating thousands more emails, although producing no evidence that there is anything of substance in them, nothing, that is, except the prurient indiscretions of Anthony Weiner.
At this point in the campaign, it may not matter if there is even anything of substance in those emails. Millions have already voted. With so little time left to identify the content of the emails, and to understand their context and meaning, we don’t know what they will reveal or how serious their impact, if any, will be. But this issue will continue to hang over this campaign. Trump has already said, “I told you so”, and the still undecided voters have another chance to be reminded of those exaggerated claims of Clinton’s dishonesty. This latest fiasco has already renewed the shouts of “crooked Hillary” and “lock her up” that had been starting to get drowned out as attention became more focused on Trump’s unsavory deeds with women and on his major character flaws.
So now it’s the Democrats time to get angry. As written in the New York Times of Sunday, October 30, “as much as Clinton advisors stressed that they were not panicking, some of them radiated anger at Mr. Comey, Mr. Weiner and even Mrs. Clinton – a reflection of 18 months of frustration that her personal decisions about her email practices and privacy were still generating unhelpful political drama… some prominent Democratic women, meanwhile, were angry that a murky announcement from the F.B.I. might impede the election of the first female president of the United States.”
Yet one has to wonder why we have not heard of any F.B.I. investigations of Donald Trump for urging voter suppression and polling place intimidation, and for his thinly veiled threats of violence against Clinton voters and Hillary herself. Why isn’t the F.B.I investigating Trump’s dangerous coziness with Vladimir Putin, considering that he all but invited Putin to hack our emails, denied that Russia was responsible for the DNC hacking, threatened to leave NATO if other countries don’t pay up, and refused to acknowledge the danger that Putin can pose to our country? Why has Mr. Comer not investigated these matters?
Trump has been making remarks that threaten our democracy by casting doubt as to whether he would even concede the election if he loses the vote, an essential aspect of our electoral system that exists in order to create an orderly and peaceful transition of power. That is one of the hallmarks of our democracy that Trump is pushing aside; is his flagrant disregard for it not considered a danger to our country?
Trump raises the specter of violence if the election doesn’t go his way, which is echoed in interviews with his supporters. He comes close to inciting them when speaking at his rallies; it would be wise, I would think, for the F.B.I. to determine if anyone plans to actually follow through on such language.
In a letter dated October 30 from Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid to F.B.I Director Comey posted on MarketWatch.com, Senator Reid wrote, “… it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his advisors, and the Russian government – a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity… And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information.” Reid also stated that Comer may have violated the Hatch Act, a law that prohibits federal officials from using their office to influence an election.
There’s more than enough anger and ugly politics to go around during this election campaign. Unfortunately, no matter which way the election turns out, it’s likely to continue.