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LETTER: We've seen all of this before

November 4, 2016
Thor Skjelver , Pierce County Tribune

To the residents of Pierce County:

There is a lot of anger, vitriol, and fear in this country before this election. These are the most unpopular and disliked candidates in American history. That being said, many of us believe these candidates to be something new, and predict that if the other side wins, horrible atrocities will take place. Deportation, mass corruption, loss of basic freedoms, genocide, etc. etc. We believe that whomever wins will make the worst president in our entire history. We believe that they will do things our country has never seen.

But that is simply wrong. I am not saying that these candidates would not do the things we say they will. What I AM trying to say is that our country has survived such horrible things before. To prove that, all we need to do is just open a U.S. history textbook. The horrible things we talk about our candidates doing have already happened. And yet here we are today.

Let's look at genocide and deportation. Under the Andrew Jackson administration, a minority group was brutally targeted and deported. Sound a little familiar. Even after an order from the Supreme Court ruling the Indian Removal Act unconstitutional, Andrew Jackson sent military forces to remove the Cherokee tribe from their land in Georgia, and marched the Cherokee over a thousand miles to dusty Oklahoma. Jackson went so far, that he said "[Supreme Court Justice] John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it." (Jeffrey Rosen, "History of the Supreme Court," PBS) America has actually had a leader who has openly defied another branch of government to deport the masses of Native Americans. The Cherokee were not the only tribes affected by the Indian Removal Act. The Seminoles in Florida were forcibly taken off their land by Andrew Jackson, both as a general and President. America has nearly made a tradition of hatred and a desire to remove another group, continuing beyond Native Americans, with the Irish, the Chinese, Japanese, and now Hispanics. This is nothing new. It's just been forgotten.

Another potential scandal that some of us predict with our next president would be corruption and cronyism. This has been rampant in American history. For example, let's look at our 29th president, Warren G. Harding. Harding's administration is probably best known for the Teapot Dome scandal. According to the Wyoming State Historical Society, the Teapot Dome scandal started because Harding liked to promote his friends into high-ranking jobs. The most important one here was Harding's poker buddy, Albert Fall, who was promoted to Secretary of the Interior. The Secretary of the Interior controls the federal land reserves among other responsibilities. In federal land in Wyoming lay two massive oil formations, Teapot Dome and Salt Creek, just north of Casper. Two prominent oilmen, Edward Doheny and Harry Sinclair, friends of Fall's, bribed Fall in exchange for permission to drill on the reserves. After the bribes were found, both Doheny and Sinclair were exonerated of their main charges, though Fall was sent to prison. This is one of the most heinous examples of corruption in our history, yet here we are today. Our country did not fall apart.

And these were not the only examples in either category. John Adams passed the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798, which gave the president powers to deport foreigners; made it more difficult for immigrants to vote; and made it illegal to publicly voice opposition to the government, essentially silencing Adams' political opponents (Independence Hall Association). Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon after Nixon resigned and the Watergate scandal broke.

For all the glory we place on the highest office in the land, many of those who occupied it have done terrible things. Whatever the next president does, it has been done before. It will take more than either candidate to bring America to its knees.

Thor Skjelver, First Time Voter and Former Tribune Contributor

 
 

 

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