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Still Reeling: Blockbuster Hit or Disturbing Documentary

The following post, written by The Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.

The interference of a foreign government, the ill-advised actions of FBI Director James Comey, and the widespread voter suppression tactics make this presidential election seem more like a Hollywood movie than a reality.

Add to this: the list of nominees filling the swamp of the Trump administration, the contemptible relationship the President-elect has with the press, and his own belief that he is entitled to have whatever conflict of interests he wants and we are close to having a blockbuster hit.

The reality of the President-elect settling fraud case for $25 million and Facebook’s problem with fake news is sure to put this Hollywood hit over the top. If only this were a movie and not a metastasizing reality threatening the deepest values of our democracy, the welfare of every citizen, and our standing in a globalized world.

Thanks to the remarkable fundraising efforts of Jill Stein election recounts have been and will be sought in at least three key swing states: Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. And already in four Wisconsin precincts claims of voter fraud have been filed as more people voted than total votes.

None of this is normal.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote continues to grow. She now has over two million more votes. This is so unprecedented that the last time this happened was just after the Civil War as Rachel Maddow explains.

Rachel Maddow looks back 140 years to Reconstruction era U.S. history to find remotely comparable gap between the popular vote and the electoral vote winner, and warns against leaping to conclusions about the significance of the 2016 popular vote.

While many continue to fear for what the future may bring, the mainstream media continues to normalize the previously unthinkable.

Sadly, as 2016 comes to a close and the unprecedented results of this election continue to unfold these news stories and more make for a disturbing documentary that future generations will watch. I can hardly imagine what their reaction will be to this time in history as the events of today are told with the perspective of a time yet to be.

But this documentary is made yet. It will include more than the horrifying realities making headlines today, it will also tell the response of the people to an unparalleled election and the actions of the President-elect.

As much as I think about the present moment and how to respond to the daily barrage of shock and sadness as the values of this country are assaulted by the President-elect and the leaders of the Republican Party, I think about the story, the witness, we collectively owe to history and to the future generations who will ask about this time.

We must continue the fight for the dignity and equality of every person. We must guard against the normalizing of hate, bigotry, and fraud in the media. We must resist all efforts to turn back the clock of progress on hard fought rights and freedoms.

Today the church begins a new year with the season of Advent. As the days grow shorter and shorter and the darkness increases, the church lights a candle in hopeful expectation of a promise to be fulfilled.

Perhaps we can all take a cue from the church, whether we are people of faith or not, and in these dark and disturbing days, as the fundamentals of our democracy are derided, be lights of hope. We can each illumine the darkness with our own light until a new dawn breaks. And like sharing the flame of a candle when we share our light with one another and the world it is not divided or diminished but multiplied.

We don’t need all the answers or understanding to do this, only the assurance that our light is shining and the courage to risk sharing it.

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