ACADEMIC LETTERS and BINDING UP THE NATION'S WOUNDS
ACADEMIC LETTERS and BINDING UP THE NATION'S WOUNDS
PART 2 ... JANUARY 2, 2017
Soon after the November 8 election, many college campuses publicly indicated their distress with the results. Over 170 college Presidents wrote a letter to President-Elect Donald Trump expressing their apprehensions over social unease among faculty and students. A statement by MIT faculty members was one of the most directly critical expressions illustrating campus sentiments. By the end of December the count of faculty signatories exceeded 600 -- more than half the faculty members at MIT.
The MIT faculty statement by implication or direct accusation was a strong condemnation of the policies and appointments announced by the Trump team. The professors offered an open political declaration, primarily liberal in tone, and dealt solely with the domestic implications of the election for the United States.
“The President-elect has appointed individuals to positions of power who have endorsed racism, misogyny and religious bigotry, and denied the widespread scientific consensus on climate change. ... “We unconditionally reject every form of bigotry, discrimination, hateful rhetoric, and hateful action, whether directed towards one’s race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, disability, citizenship, political views, socioeconomic status, veteran status, or immigration status."
In just two months after the election, the national political focus has shifted almost exclusively to issues of Putin, Trump and Obama. Was there foreign meddling in the election? Did Putin and/or Trump "steal" the election? With an election so compromised, what are the implications of Donald Trump becoming President and dealing in the international sphere of competing alliances and interests?
Virtually none of the campus letters and protests dealt with these political issues, including the threat to the integrity of the American voting process. Yet the strange affinity of Trump for Putin had earlier been dissected in detail by Tom Snyder in the liberal New York Review of Books in April, and by the conservative National Review in July. The evidence of Russian involvement in hacking the Democratic National Committee was known by the middle of the summer.
Why did the academics not mention in November the evidence of Putin's intrusions, and why did President Obama allow the election to proceed and thus become tainted? These omissions are puzzling.
The election itself was very close and contradictory. Hillary Clinton won the total popular vote by almost three million votes. Trump won the electoral college by what appeared to be a sizable margin, but a shift of one percent of the votes from Trump to Clinton in four states would have reversed the electoral college results. The Boston Globe reported that a simple shift of only 53,667 votes in the key states would have given Clinton the victory.
The political case was heightened by President Obama's announcement on December 29 of sanctions against the Russians, and the release of a tbirteen-page FBI report summarizing the facts in the hacking incident. The report included a list of the computer identifications for various hackers involved in attempts at security intrusion and offered guidance to public and private institutions on ways to protect their computer systems from being hacked.
The American sanctions against Russia have concentrated the attention on Vladimir Putin and on the upcoming release of a full CIA report in the incident. Putin has explicitly asked for proof and he may get it within the next three weeks. Obama's term as President ends at noon on January 20.
The key question for January 2017 is to understand the implications if indeed the election was actually stolen. Can Donald Trump legitimately be inaugurated on January 20 as the new President of the United States, and will the American public (including the college campuses) accept him?
In recent weeks Donald Trump has been diminished in stature and credibility. A brash, assertive personality has become more muddled, confused by technology, and loyally supportive of Putin. If he should keep pressing to establish peace with Putin, his critics could accuse him of being the Neville Chamberlain of the 21st Century.
Virtually all academic and political commentators have failed to note an important event in America's recent history. In November 1972, Richard Nixon won a convincing election, winning 49 of 50 states. By August 1974 the Watergate scandal and the release of a critical "smoking gun" tape recording were the evidence that convinced both the public and its elected officials (from both parties) that Nixon had to resign. Nixon was facing a likely vote for impeachment in the House, and the Senate had over 80 votes for conviction. Nixon chose to resign.
January 2017 will not be an easy month for the nation to survive, but the resolution of the August 1974 Watergate crisis proved to many observers that "the system works." Vice-President Gerald Ford provided the necessary degree of continuity to allow the nation to steady itself and persevere. Not everyone will be content with a President Mike Pence, but as flawed as the 2016 election was, almost no one wishes to go through another election.
At this point the academics who were so critical of Trump in November may have some ideas on how to proceed ... how to hold the nation together .... and how to bind up the nation's wounds -- the same problems Abraham Lincoln faced at the end of the Civil War.
New York Review of Books, Tom Snyder, "Trump’s Putin Fantasy" April 19, 2016
National Review, Johan Goldberg, "Who Gets Putin’s Vote?" July 25, 2016
The Boston Globe, Matt Rocheleau "If 53,667 people had voted differently, Clinton would have keys to the White House" November 10, 2016
Federal Bureau of Investigation, "GRIZZLY STEPPE – Russian Malicious Cyber Activity." (attached as PDF file) December 29, 2016
Originally published on NeighborMedia.org: http://www.neighbormedia.org/node/1042