Wednesday, November 9, 2016

1876, 1933, AND 2016

1876, 1933, AND 2016
Justice is A Verb!
©Wendell Griffen, 2016

History will record that on November 8, 2016, voters in the United States elected Donald John Trump to become its 45th President.  In doing so, the voters who preferred Mr. Trump rejected the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.  

The voters who preferred Mr. Trump also renounced the policies of President Barack Obama despite his supposed political popularity and favorable approval ratings. Whatever else one may glean from the presidential election of 2016, President-elect Trump is not and cannot be expected to continue the policies of the Obama presidency.  He ran against those policies and stridently opposed them during the campaign.  

President-Elect Trump will not nominate a constitutional centrist or moderate to the Supreme Court.  

President-Elect Trump will not veto congressional legislation to abolish the Affordable Care Act.  

President-Elect Trump and Vice President-Elect Mike Pence are unlikely to support legislation to protect immigrants, workers, people from ethnic, racial, and religious minorities, and people who are LGBT from discrimination.  They are also unlikely to protect the environment. 

The election of Donald Trump should also be understood, however soberly (if not somberly), in the light of another period in the history of the United States.  The 2016 election of Donald Trump means the end of the brief dawn of progress in civil liberty witnessed during the Obama presidency the same way the election of Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 marked the end of Reconstruction. 

Remember what happened when Rutherford Hayes was elected President by the House of Representatives in 1876.  Reconstruction ended.  Hayes promised to withdraw federal troops from the South despite knowing those troops protected former slaves from violence and reprisals from white southerners.  After the federal troops were withdrawn from the former Confederate states, the Ku Klux Klan was born.   Jim Crow segregation began twenty years later (1896) when the Supreme Court decided that racial segregation on a Louisiana railroad car was acceptable in the Plessy v. Ferguson ruling that ushered in the term “separate but equal.” 

Remember that Senator Mitch McConnell announced that his goal was for President Obama to have a failed presidency.

Remember that former Speaker of the House John Boehner railed against passage of the Affordable Care Act while he served as House Minority Leader and afterwards while he was Speaker.

Remember that some pundits imagined the Obama election in 2008 as the beginning of a “post-racial era.”

Remember how religious conservatives have raged against the idea that women have the right to choose whether to bear children, and against the idea that people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender have rights equal to the rights of people who are heterosexual.

Remember that the Tea Party movement emerged after President Obama was elected.

Remember that the Supreme Court of the United States invalidated key provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in 2014.

Remember that the U.S. Senate refused to even schedule confirmation hearings for Judge Merrick Garland after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia earlier this year. 

Remember that U.S. voters refused to elect a woman president of the United States who was a former U.S. Senator, former Secretary of State, and who devoted her young adult years to challenging bigotry and discrimination.

In 2008, a voting coalition of moderate and progressive white men and women, African Americans, Latino Americans, Asian-Americans, and white Millennials elected President Obama.  In 2016, a coalition of white working class men and women, white senior citizens, and white religious conservatives elected President-Elect Donald Trump. Time will tell whether the 2016 election of Mr. Trump will have the same unjust consequences as the 1876 election of Mr. Hayes had for the nation. 

We should not only remember what happened in the United States after the election of 1876 if we want to know what could happen in coming years during the presidency of Mr. Trump.  Patriots and prophets should recall what happened in Germany, later in Europe, and ultimately to the world after Adolf Hitler seized power in Germany in 1933 on the promise that he would make Germany great again.

It is time for prophets and patriots to come forward, speak, advocate, organize, and live prophetically for social justice and peace as we enter this new and sobering (if not somber) era in U.S. history.  


  1. Thank you for this thoughtful and restrained post. (I suppose I need to move beyond just wincing and clicking on something else whenever I see that horrible orange face, but just now, that is hard.) Most people seem unaware there was so much backsliding about civil rights after that Hayes election of 1876 - that real progress happened during the 1870s, but it was all undone by politicians who took office in a backroom deal and by some of the worst jurists ever to sit on the Supreme Court. Elizabeth Knight

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