Op-ed: Going to college

  • By Bob Franken
  • Tuesday, November 29, 2016 5:32pm
  • Opinion

Wow what a surprise the Electoral College was! Who knew that a candidate could win the race for the presidency even though he didn’t get a majority of the actual national vote, like Donald Trump did? Somehow, that possibility evaded all the advisers buzzing around Hillary Clinton, who constantly and smugly assured everyone that they were the modern experts with the superior grasp of data, so worry not about Trump defeating Clinton.

They are the same ones who are now bitterly complaining about the unfairness of the Electoral College. Never mind that it’s been around since the nation’s day one. Shouldn’t Hillary’s campaign leaders, with all their confidence, have figured out that they have to construct a strategy by factoring in the Electoral College? Now they are reduced to participating in a three-state recount led by the Green Party. Donny tweets that it’s a scam, and he’s right. Of course, he undercuts his complaint by tweeting that he lost the popular vote because there were millions of illegal voters. So our president-elect is still a fool.

As for the Clinton people, they are the same sharpies who are too busy sipping their soy lattes to waste any time thinking about the Maxwell House and Folgers drinkers. But then we witnessed the revenge of the riffraff who had had it with being looked down upon, so tired of being ripped off by the not-so-elite elitists that they were willing to buy into Trump’s lying, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic cruelty. At least he pretended that he wanted to radically change things, although one can argue that by supporting such a demagogue, they became racists, misogynists and xenophobes by association, those who were not blatantly out-and-out bigots, but it doesn’t matter.

All the Clintonistas were astonished to find that these people needed to be reached, their grievances addressed in language they could relate to. Blame Hillary for not grasping that wonkishness doesn’t get anyone’s juices flowing. In fact, blame her for not once, but twice — in 2008 and this year — assembling a campaign staff that failed miserably, ripped apart by the self-serving twerps who promoted themselves as much as her.

Blame those of us in media for forgetting that our relationship with them is supposed to be adversarial. When Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton or Barack Obama holds us in contempt, that’s a good thing. But when we try to cozy up to their underlings in order to grovel for the crumbs of news they toss our way, we are making a big mistake and forgetting our reason for being. Now we’re begging the Trumpsters to allow us access, through protective pools and the like. There are good reasons for mainstream media having such proximity, but there is no good reason for the begging. If Trump decides he will continue to shut out the press, then we journalists need to restructure our operation and do our reporting without him, independently, or as The New York Times guy said, “without fear or favor.” The Trumpster won’t like it; he will demonize us and he will use all of social media to distort his record, but we cannot be intimidated by any of that. And we should make it a point to shed the stuffed shirt politicos whose hubris has resulted in the election of a dangerous demagogue who was appealing because he promised to blow up the system, but may blow up the world in the process.

As for the Electoral College, it was one of the processes put in place by the founders to make sure there was some way to cool down the passions of the moment, to combat what many have called “the tyranny of the majority.” It would take a constitutional amendment to change it. Once you start tampering with the Constitution, it inevitably unravels, along with the entire nation.

It doesn’t change the fact that Donald Trump has been chosen. The recount won’t change anything, either. He didn’t win as much as his opponents lost, by refusing to see beyond their own sense of entitlement.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

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