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Viewpoint: Math, Civics And Commonsense

By Dennis Edwards
Editorial Page Columnist
New Journal and Guide

So we’re angry about Presidential Election results. Protesters are exercising their constitutional rights. Doing what Americans should to oppose perceived and real injustice. They have my full support as long as each and every protester went to the ballot box and voted.

My fear is too many folks are marching in the streets and in their minds sans the ballot. In an election in which an estimated 47% of registered voters did not vote, a cursory look at Associated Press voting results shows the Electoral College battle was actually decided by 2 states at the least and four states at most. A closer look at the vote count in the two most important states, Florida and Pennsylvania, tells us President Elect Trump won the former by ONLY 119,770 votes statewide. He took Pennsylvania by a paltry 68,236. Both carry a total of 59 Electoral College votes. Had Clinton picked up an additional 200,000 votes she would be the President Elect. The irony is she didn’t have to get them from Trumps side.

Trump won Wisconsin by 27,257 votes and Michigan by only 11,837. Both would have shifted 26 Electoral College votes from Trumps column to Clinton’s. This election was essentially decided by 188,006 votes in Florida and Pennsylvania. Ain’t that a bonafide blip. If you add Michigan and Wisconsin to the club the Electoral College tally would have shifted to 303 Clinton and 215 Trump.

Clearly these numbers are proof of a troubling multi-sided tale of misplaced anger, frustration and down right negligence. In this case none of those adjectives apply to Trump. They apply to some (not all) African Americans, Millennials and Bernie Sanders supporters. The folks who for whatever reason decided not to vote or to protest vote for the Libertarian and Green Party Candidates. I don’t think I’ll ever understand the mindset of folk who use their vote in protest. A better response might have been to do the adult thing, realize we can’t always have our way or get what we want and then vote your best interest.

A friend of mine asked for some help at a polling place on Election Day. For the first time in life there I was passing out literature. The guy for the other candidate had to leave. So in my best attempt at fairness I told voters where to get the opposing sides literature too. This objectivity habit is a monster to break.

What was enjoyable in this heavily white district was how fathers came to the polls with their wives, sons and daughters to vote together. Judging by some of there reactions I think it’s safe to say we probably wouldn’t agree politically. But what had to be admired was how fathers brought their families to vote their best interest together.

Too many parents who didn’t look like them apparently decided not to vote and by doing so effectively told their own children to follow their lead. Low black voter turnout across the country cost Democrats several states. But in Pennsylvania, Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan in particular it cost the nation the Presidency and control of Congress. The protest was not worth the cost.

Add that to the roughly 5% of the total population that pouted their vote away on candidates who could never win and its clear nobody has a legitimate reason to protest the result. Trumps voters went to the polls. Clinton’s got distracted by the FBI, meaningless emails, manufactured distrust and some even listened to a candidate backed by the KKK when he told them to vote for him because “you have nothing to loose”. There’s a special kind of insanity at play there.

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So there you have it. The math and common sense lead us to the ultimate civics lesson. Those who rebel against their own best interest must pay the price of life changing uncertainty. My hope is those who did will be smart enough to never “make that same mistake again”.

Dennis Edwards is an Emmy Award Winning Investigative Television Journalist who’s worked in Detroit, Baltimore, St. Louis, Richmond and as a Freelance Correspondent for CNN. He’s a graduate of Virginia Union University and its Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology.

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