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Ann McFeatters: A smidgeon of optimism after Tuesday's voting

Ann McFeatters, Tribune News Service on

Published in Op Eds

WASHINGTON – Is it possible that the slimy bonds of Trumpism are slipping?

Can it be that a mild-mannered Virginia pediatrician has delivered a glimmer of hope?

Without getting euphoric, in a word, yes!

After nothing but Donald Trump 24/7 for more than two years, sanity is reasserting itself. From Pennsylvania to Virginia to Georgia to Maine to New Jersey to New York, this November's election results provided a resounding thumping to the idea that hanging on to Trump's coattails is a path to victory for Republicans at the ballot box.

Admittedly, 32 percent of Americans still cling to the mantra that Trump is a national boon and still trumpet Trumpism as the nation's salvation.

Admittedly, Congress is still a divided pit of do-nothingism.

Admittedly, Trump is still president and still embarrassing us abroad. (Imagine touting his golf course on a swing through Asia while suddenly trying to prevent a war he has been stoking!)

But there is a feeling that common sense is returning. The Virginian who lost the gubernatorial race, Ed Gillespie, walloped by Democrat Ralph Northam, used to be a moderate Republican, thoughtful and respected by all. Gillespie falsely figured he couldn't win without disgusting ads trying to paint his opponent as a supporter of the MS-13 gangs and pedophiles, trying to make Confederate monuments an issue and disavowing America's heritage of embracing immigrants. And now Gillespie's reputation is in tatters.

Think what an end to Trumpism could mean.

No more political defense of bump stocks that let a murderer use a rifle to fire 100 rounds of bullets in seven seconds. No more trumpeting that mental illness alone is the reason for ever-larger mass shootings. (Other countries have mental illness without such weekly carnage.)

No more tweet-bullying of others, from ordinary citizens to leaders of other countries.

No more national appeals to racism, white supremacy and religious bigotry.

No more denying science and pretending climate change isn't real.

No more denying that facts don't matter.

An adult approach to solving our problems.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

We have miles to go before we can lay our heads down for a good night's rest without worrying the president will blow something up, demean the Oval Office, or tell anther monstrous whopper.

Potential candidates have to decide to take the risk to run against entrenched opponents. And now, after a Democratic win in the purple state of Virginia, more of them will.

Americans have to decide that they can make a difference and organize, contribute, work to elect solid people to office, become informed and vote. And now, probably, more of them will.

We have to rediscover why we have government. Not to help the rich get richer. Not to destroy the environment. Not to gut all regulation so big business prospers even more at the expense of small business. Not to switch positions every five minutes so allies have no idea what we stand for any more.

We have government to make it easier for each of us to thrive. Without good government, the weak will trample the strong. Government should provide equal opportunity. Government must provide a safety net for the impoverished, the sick, the aged, the young. Government must set ground rules so that the small is not squashed by the big. Government must be fair and objective.

And a free press is more vital than ever to keep government honest. A free press makes mistakes, but it is not an evil to be stomped into the ground. Evil flourishes when a free press disappears – in Putin's Russia, in Kim Jong-un's North Korea, in Hitler's Germany.

Is it too late to reclaim our country from bigotry, institutional stupidity and official cupidity? No.

It will take time, commitment, resolve and work. We will have to talk to each other without yelling and listen with understanding. Good people must run for office without stoking rancor and hatred. We have to declare an armistice in the culture wars.

We have to get back to kindness and caring, pursuing the golden rule in everyday life, not just after catastrophes.

After Tuesday's elections, we have a smidgeon of optimism that we can reclaim the shining city on the hill, perhaps sooner rather than later.

About The Writer

Ann McFeatters is an op-ed columnist for Tribune News Service. Readers may send her email at amcfeatters@nationalpress.com.

(c)2017 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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