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Editorial: Trump's foes pay the high price of losing
Those opposing president should focus less on protest marches, more on winning votes
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For the latest summary of the Trump administration’s whirlwind two-week debut, we refer to this quote from a sage observer of the American political scene:

“Elections have consequences, and at the end of the day, I won.” — President Barack Obama, Jan. 23, 2009. Indeed they do.

To those unhappy with the actions by President Donald Trump, it’s worth noting nothing he has done so far should come as a surprise to anyone. He is no more than an elected executive following through on the promises made during a campaign. He is doing what those who voted for him want him to. Even if you don’t like the moves, you can’t fault that motivation.

Trump came to office with what he felt was a mandate for change, and he has not tread softly (does he ever?). In the last week, he issued an order regarding refugees entering the U.S. that sparked great opposition and protest nationwide; announced his Supreme Court nominee; and apparently got into dustups with leaders of Mexico and Australia.

These four years are going to be a wild ride, as we all knew Nov. 9.

Protests to Trump’s ascent to the White House began within hours of his nomination when tens of thousands nationwide, and up to a million globally (who don’t get to vote here), marched against him and in support of women’s rights and other issues. That’s their right, one all free people enjoy, and power to them. And they’re likely right that he’s not on board with many of their ideals.

But that’s why they need to do something that will have a greater impact in the long run than making clever signs, knitting hats, marching, chanting or singing: Win elections. Those who do get to govern; those who lose them are left to second-guess and gripe from the sidelines.

Most, if not all, of the people protesting Trump in recent weeks probably cast ballots last fall, likely for his Democratic opponent. But that clearly wasn’t enough to change the result of the election. Trump won 304 electoral votes and is parked in the Oval Office because of it, and will be until the next election changes that.

We acknowledge the argument he is a minority president because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, for what it’s worth, despite Trump’s claims to the contrary. Yet it’s worth noting she won by 3 million nationwide but 4 million in California alone, meaning the other 49 states provided a small Trump plurality. The blue Obama states that turned Trump red — that’s why Clinton lost.

You get the sense many are still in some fashion protesting the election rather than moving on by developing strategies on how to work with the man elected president. It’s also clear many still don’t understand the groundswell of disenchantment among many voters that put Trump in office.

Those who oppose Trump and his GOP compatriots at some point need to put down the signs and megaphones and find a way to beat them by earning more votes. But to have a chance at winning, they need to understand why they lost, which so far hasn’t been the focus of their attention.

It’s true protest marches changed minds and policies in the 1960s over civil rights and the Vietnam War, but neither of those movements sought to undo the results of an election. That’s a mountain that will never budge.

Now Democrats vow to oppose Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, whose conservative bona fides match that of the man he would replace, the late Justice Antonin Scalia. In stating her opposition at a CNN town hall meeting, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (who doesn’t get a vote in the Senate confirmation process) said Gorsuch “isn’t on your side” when it comes to upholding the progressive banner on a litany of social and economic issues. And thus, her party may do everything possible to block him, despite his obvious qualifications, unanimous vote to the Court of Appeals and the fact he would be replacing another conservative, leaving the court’s voting balance unchanged.

Democrats clearly are looking to obstruct the president any way they can, thought they accused Republicans of impeding Obama the same way. Somehow, leaders of both parties manage to switch roles and assume the position of the other side when power changes hands, as if the rules only apply to them.

As for Gorsuch, it’s not the job of a jurist to be on anyone’s “side” but to apply the law evenly and fairly. Judges shouldn’t make laws but instead rule on the constitutionality of those passed. It’s Pelosi’s job, and that of her fellow legislators, to create laws they believe will choose the proper “sides,” then get them passed and signed.

To do that, and to get Supreme Court nominees they prefer, we again defer to the last president: “Elections have consequences.” Win one and the ball is in your hands.

Since it’s Super Bowl Sunday, we note one of the time-honored forms of trash talking in football is for players on the team that’s ahead to silence their foes by merely pointing to the scoreboard. That’s a more profound comeback than any equivalent finger-wagging or “your mamas” to make your point. That’s what Obama was doing in his “consequences” comment, and would be a better answer by this administration than a daily round of Twitter insults.

Like it or not, Trump won, and he gets to do things his way, within the limits of his job. Politics is as much a zero sum game as the game played in Houston tonight. If the Falcons win, they get the silver trophy, no matter how many yards the Patriots gain or which team felt it played better.

What’s on the scoreboard is all that counts. Read it and weep.

Share your thoughts on this or any other topic in a a letter to the editor; you can use this form or email to letters@gainesvilletimes.com. The Times editorial board includes General Manager Norman Baggs, Editor Keith Albertson and Managing Editor Shannon Casas, plus community members Susan DeCrescenzo, Cathy Drerup and Brent Hoffman.

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