The presidential election results shocked and stunned just about everyone, regardless of which candidate one supported. Once again, the curious American structure of popular vote vs. Electoral College vote created more angst as, for the second time in 16 years, the Democratic nominee won the popular vote, while the Republican candidate garnered the Electoral College vote. What once was thought to happen rarely now has happened twice in less than two decades. A check of history reveals that, in 1876 and 1888, similar situations occurred, only 12 years apart, but an 1877 “deal” awarded the presidency to Rutherford B. Hayes.
Hillary Clinton narrowly won the popular vote; her 200,000 vote margin, out of 120 million votes cast, mirrors almost exactly her winning margin in Fairfax County, which also made Virginia “blue” for the third time in a row. Some pundits have called the election results “politics turned on its head;” others term it a “shockwave.” Whatever the terminology, the 2016 presidential election will be the source of endless analysis and Monday morning quarterbacking for years to come.
In the meantime, there is real fear in many communities. Fear about whether the new administration actually will impose the racist and xenophobic restrictions that Donald Trump trumpeted so loudly and for so long during the campaign. Fear among women, young and old, that the misogynistic behavior demonstrated by Donald Trump might be deemed acceptable now. Fear that women’s health care choices – indeed all health care choices – might be returning to the back alleys that predated Roe v. Wade. Fear that wars will increase, but our economy won’t.
On Veterans Day, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center hosted a community gathering to address the election results and fear in the community. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring spoke, along with other state and local elected officials, to redouble efforts to ensure religious liberty and civil rights. When I was called to the podium, this was my message: “Transitions, whether personal or political, usually are difficult and unsettling times. In our American political system, we face such transitions on a controlled and regular basis, but this time it seems different. And I feel that uncertainty, too.
“However, we must remember that our Constitution and laws protect all of us, not just a select few. The wonderful Stars and Stripes flies over all of us, not just a select few. The law protects all of us, not just a select few. That is what we need to remember – all of us, not just a select few.
“We have a responsibility to educate, to explain, to push back when necessary, and to put the discussion back on the appropriate path. We must respect differences and discover similarities. And we must share our outlook and hopes, not hide them.
I am disappointed in the election results, but I know that we truly are stronger together, and if we must be the loyal opposition, then let’s approach the challenge peacefully, but always aware and ready to act on behalf of the shared values we hold so dear in this district, this county, this state, and in this nation.”
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.