ABOVE CARTOON: Rainer Hachfeld, Neues Deutschland, Germany
On Tuesday night, America voted to make Donald Trump the 45th President of the United States.
By Denise Clay
On Tuesday night, what many thought improbable happened.
In a victory that no one but the candidate and his supporters saw coming, Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump was elected the nation’s 45th President, besting Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton.
After watching returns go back and forth all night, the race was called for Trump after he became the first Republican to win the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and it’s 20 Electoral College votes in a Presidental race since Ronald Reagan did it in 1988. He also won the so-called battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan.
The Republicans also kept the Commonwealth’s Junior Senate seat in Washington as incumbent Republican Pat Toomey beat Democrat Katie McGinty, former Chief of Staff for Gov. Tom Wolf.
In a statement, Rob Gleason, chair of Pennsylvania’s Republican Party, expressed joy at the news.
“The eyes of the world watched as Pennsylvania sent a Republican President and U.S. Senator to Washington,” Gleason said. “The energy we’ve seen for Donald Trump and Pat Toomey in the Keystone State was unprecedented, and that energy translated into votes thanks to the hard work and dedication of thousands of volunteers throughout Pennsylvania. With Donald Trump in the White House and Pat Toomey back in the United States Senate, Pennsylvania delivered a message that we want to get on the right track.”
Trump’s victory was the culmination of a bruising campaign that managed at times to alienate Blacks, Latinos, women, Muslims, the disabled and everyone in between.
It is also seen by analysts as the primal scream of non-college educated, mostly blue collar White men who believe that America cast them adrift over the last eight years.
Speaking to an audience at his Election Party in New York, Trump praised his opponent and called for unity, despite his audience’s calls for Clinton’s arrest and the death of President Barack Obama.
“Hillary has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely,” Trump said. “Now it’s time for America to bind the wounds of division. We have to get together. To all Republicans, Democrats and Independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”
Clinton did well in the Philadelphia area, but had problems in other parts of Pennsylvania. While she is winning the popular vote, she didn’t do well enough in the Electoral College map to win.
On Wednesday, Clinton spoke to supporters as her husband, former President Bill Clinton, stood beside her, fighting back tears. She recognized the disappointment that people were feeling, but also challenged them to keep their eyes on the prize.
“I know how disappointed you feel because I feel it too, and so do tens of millions of Americans who invested their hopes and dreams in this effort,” she said. “This is painful and it will be for a long time, but I want you to remember this. Our campaign was never about one person or even one election, it was about the country we love and about building an America that’s hopeful, inclusive and big-hearted.”
“We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought,” Clinton continued. “But I still believe in America and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”
Many saw the Republican victories, especially the election of Trump, as a repudiation of President Obama. CNN Commentator Van Jones even referred to it as a “White-lash”.
Ironically, Obama will be handing power over to a man who was one of the more high-profile members of the so-called “birther” movement, which demanded to see the President’s Hawaiian birth certificate because it believed that he was actually born in Kenya and was a Manchurian Candidate of sorts.
In a news conference on Wednesday, Obama told reporters that the peaceful transition of power had to begin no matter what he may personally feel.
“Now everybody is sad when their side loses and election, but the day after we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team,” he said. “This is an intramural scrimmage. This is what the country needs—a sense of unity, a sense of inclusion, a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law and respect for each other.”
While Trump wound up winning Pennsylvania, and Toomey won re-election, the news wasn’t all bad for Democrats in Philadelphia or statewide. State Rep. Dwight Evans will be taking over as Congressman for the Second District after winning election over Republican James Jones.
In addition to winning his own two-year term, Evans won a special election to fill the unexpired term of former Congressman Chaka Fattah. Fattah resigned this summer after being convicted on corruption charges.
Montgomery County Executive Josh Shapiro bested Republican State Sen. John Rafferty to become the Commonwealth’s next Attorney General. Shapiro pledged to restore honor to an office that ended up under the microscope of scandal when former Attorney Gen. Kathleen Kane was indicted, and then convicted, on perjury charges.
The 192nd and 200th Legislative Districts will also be getting new state assembly representation.
Morgan Cephas is the new State Rep. for the 192nd District, replacing Lynwood Savage, who won the seat in a special election after longtime State Rep. Louise Williams Bishop resigned after pleading no contest to corruption charges.
The new representative for the 200th District is Chris Rabb. Rabb bested incumbent State Rep. Tonyelle Cook-Artis in the April primary and will now go to Harrisburg to represent the district.
Turnout throughout the city was steady in most places and high in others. Gregory Walker, the Democratic City Committee’s vice chair in Center City’s Fifth Ward, said that his polling place at St. Luke’s Church on 13th Street was busy and ready to make an impact.
“We have just under 3,000 registered voters coming to the polls,” he said. “That can tilt a division, a city or an election one way or the other.”
As the polls closed at 8 PM on Tuesday, a 300-person line of voters waited an hour at a North Philadelphia polling place near Temple University. When asked about the line at the Democrats Election Night Party at the Sheraton Downtown in Center City, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf gave words of encouragement.
“Tell them to stay in line,” he said. “As long as they’re in line, they’ll be able to vote!”
The culprit for the long line, as it was with most long lines on Tuesday, was broken voter machines. But while that might have caused a delay, most voters were patient and waited their turn to make their voices heard, said Germaine Cherry, a Judge of Elections for South Philadelphia’s 48th Ward, First Division, located at the Guerin Recreation Center
A bigger concern was the “poll monitors” that Trump threatened to send to places like Philadelphia to make sure the vote wasn’t “rigged” against him. Videographer James O’Keefe, best known for the series of videos that led to the demise of the fair housing non-profit ACORN, was sighted following a church bus in the city that was filled with voters going to the polls in the name of voter fraud.
Everyone at the 48th Ward polling place, including Republican Judges of Election, was concerned about Trump’s “poll monitors” because school days off bring extra visitors to the Guerin Recreation Center, Cherry said.
“Everyone gets along here, so we don’t have problems,” she said. “But we were all concerned because this is a playground. The children play here and we’ll have more of them here today because they’re out of school. We didn’t want any trouble.”
While everyone agreed that it wasn’t at the levels that helped President Barack Obama win the state in 2008 and 2012, most felt the turnout was good enough to keep the state from turning from blue to red.
But in the end, that’s exactly what happened.
And the Sanctuary City that is the City of Brotherly Love has to figure out to navigate a new normal that includes a President who was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.
“We gave birth to this country, and now we must all work tirelessly to give it new life and bridge the divides that have plagued us for decades,” Mayor Jim Kenney said as he congratulated Trump and Toomey on their victories. “In Philadelphia, our diversity and inclusion has always made us stronger. We’ll continue to rely on that strength as we work toward unity.”
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