I recall twice in my life when presidential races ended with whispers and shouts of "rigged." Richard Nixon's organization accused (probably with good cause) the Kennedys of stealing the 1960 election and 40 years later, those of us backing Al Gore were apoplectic at the outcome against George Bush.
In neither case did the losing candidate publicly question the outcome of the election. Both gracefully and graciously conceded, considering the stability of the United States first and theirs and their party's ambitions further down the list. That's the way this government works best, even though some of us feel the pain of the loss--the unfair loss--for years afterward.
Donald Trump--as is his way--disputes that. He says the 2016 election is being rigged and he doubts he will accept the result. He will continue to stir the pot, to whip up mistrust and resentment, to be an agent for violence and discontent. Sen. John McCain says that if Hillary Clinton is elected president--as she certainly will be; the question is by how much--he and his Republican colleagues in the Senate will reject any appointments to courts made by her. McCain is considered a moderate Republican; Trump is ... well, what?
We are looking at a government that will be given no chance to operate with anything like efficiency and effectiveness. The only real possibility we have right now is for the Democrats to take the Senate and then bounce the filibuster, which can be an agent for good or for complete meltdown, depending on how it is used. If there is no filibuster and the Dems control of the Senate, a majority of votes would ensure judges could be appointed to federal courts, including the Supreme Court.
All this said, I do not blame Trump or the Republicans or those forces that formed them to fit the electorate. The problem here is the electorate, itself. We have about 40 million Americans who are beside themselves with grief, hate, anger and the feeling that their country has been taken from them by unworthies: the poor, the dark-skinned, people with accents, liberals of all stripe, religions not theirs, the educated, the different.
For most of our history, America has been controlled by middle-to-old-aged, rich, privileged, white men who have stuck together to keep others out of the power structure. That structure has been fractured and with the break, power is becoming a possibility for the previously dispossessed. I hear my brother's voice saying, with some anguish, regret and anger, that the world he grew up with is changed and he doesn't like it. I hear friends angrily and often with vulgarity talking of their support for the hateful, the ugly, the people who want to "Make America Great Again," as if there were some point to which we could return to make everything right.
We are facing a substantial period where our government will not work without leadership that is considerably different than what this election will give us--regardless of who wins and by how much. In the Roanoke Valley, we will elect with sizeable margins two congressmen--Bob Goodlatte and Morgan Griffith--known primarily for what they have not done: unite us. Neither has that as a goal. Neither has America's best interest in his list of things to do. It is about power, money, continuity and party for them. Anything else is just words.
I am not encouraged by what I see, but the only real bright light I've seen in many political years has been the election of Barack Obama, one that was the very definition of hope and change. The hope remains, but the change has not come and will not come as long as we continue to elect people whose primary mission is disruption and failure.
We deserve better than that.