Every election, we encourage you, our readers, to vote even if you are not in agreement with the Shepherd’s endorsed candidates because it is important for all Americans to be part of the process that selects its leaders. Voting is the “buy in” and it’s what makes for a healthy democracy.
In this election it’s even more important to vote because this presidential election is different from any election we have experienced in our lifetimes. Much more is at stake than any set of issues, such as the future of Obamacare, gun safety and the Second Amendment, or even the selection of the next justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Without exaggerating, our democracy may literally be on the line.
Currently, Americans’ trust in the federal government is at an historic low of 19%. Yes, fewer than one in five Americans trust their federal government. In the mid-1960s, before the war in Vietnam became so controversial, more than 75% of Americans trusted the federal government. We all know democracy only works if people feel they have a stake in the system and if they have a certain level of trust in it. Right now, the United States has some work to do to make sure all Americans have a real stake in our country and actually trust that the federal government is working in their interest.
These two elephants in the room came to the fore when one of the nominees of our two major political parties refused to say that he will accept the results of the election. “Accepting the results” does not mean he can’t, for example, argue for a recount if there is a close race in a pivotal state, but what it does mean is that ultimately the losing candidate of any major political party in the United States accepts the results of the elections, after all the legal avenues of appeal have been exhausted, and participates in the smooth transition of power.
The fact that we have always had a smooth transition of power since our nation’s inception is one of the reasons that the United States is viewed as such a shining star for much of the world.
So if the losing candidate refuses to accept defeat and tells his followers that he definitely won, but that the election is rigged and that he got cheated, then what? If you don’t have a smooth transition, then the end result of an election is decided in the streets and our 235-year experiment in democracy deteriorates into some form of “mob rule” where our more than two centuries of the rule of law are no longer in play.
In this unusual year, most Republican operatives and party elders just assumed that Donald Trump was a short-term phenomenon and that their long primary season would slowly slide him off the political map. What they didn’t realize is that Trump had staying power and would show himself to be a dangerous threat not just to the future of the Republican Party but to the country itself, and secondly, that a significant portion of their party is committed to Trump’s main ideas, many of which are in direct conflict with traditional Republican Party values such as free trade.
Off the record, some of the Republican Party elders have speculated as to how a Donald Trump administration might have responded to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. As you may recall, after 9/11 President Bush went to a mosque and spoke eloquently about Islam being one of the world’s great religions. In contrast, these Republican Party elders’ fear is that a “President Trump” would have declared martial law, suspended the Constitution and would have forever changed America.
As much as these lifelong Republican Party elders would love to see their party controlling the White House—but not with a Donald Trump as president—they, instead, are putting their patriotism above their politics. We saw a somewhat similar moment in 2008, when the credit default swaps initially designed to lower risk in the financial markets got out of control and almost created a global economic meltdown.
During that crisis, Republican Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson brought together congressional leaders of both parties and major financial players and they set aside much of their ideology and did what they felt was necessary to save the world economic order. As unhappy as many people are with the fairness of the current world economic order and how critical many people were of how those in power in 2008 saved the system—and both, we believe, are legitimate issues to debate—saving the current system was imperative since a chaotic financial collapse was not the way to move things forward.
We understand that it is not easy for some Republican-leaning independents and even harder for lifelong Republicans to vote for Hillary Clinton, but many are realizing that it is the best course of action for our democracy and that it is better that the Republicans lose this presidential election than to have a President Trump.
After the election, the Republican Party will have to try to figure out how the traditional Republicans and the Trump followers can either work together as a party or get a divorce. In addition, after the election, Democrats, Independents and Republicans must figure out how to work together to rebuild the public’s trust in our federal government.
So please take this election seriously because there may actually be more at stake than which party will occupy the Oval Office for the next four years. The question might be whether our democracy will be around for another 235 years.
— Louis Fortis, Publisher