Last Thursday, as Americans sat down for the sacrosanct day of gluttony that is Thanksgiving, many election-related wounds were undoubtedly re-opened. While your post-election blues may have been limited to engaging in a heated shouting fest with your grandfather over turkey and mashed potatoes, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein has been venting her election frustrations in a much more consequential way: by launching a fundraising campaign to order a recount in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. This fundraising campaign is a futile effort that will only further distract from more important decisions, tarnish the reputation of America’s liberals and unnecessarily divide the country.
First of all, anyone who feels dismayed by the result of the election certainly has the right to feel that way. After all, as CNN reported, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, as well as a sizeable portion of the country’s electoral votes. However, Clinton is not the one calling for a recount. Even though she recently made the mistake of lending her nominal support to the effort, according to CNN her campaign does not believe any election anomalies occurred. For her part, Clinton has thus far handled the outcome of the election with grace and poise, stating in her concession speech, “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead,” according to CNN. She even went on to remind her audience of the sanctity of the electoral process. Jill Stein, on the other hand, received just one percent of the popular vote and won zero states in the electoral college, according to RealClearPolitics. Her attempt at ordering a recount in three states seems more than anything else like an attempt to make sure she and her party remain relevant.
Stein’s recount crusade is distracting from more important issues being discussed and more important decisions being made. Liberals should be focusing their attention and money on achievable and practical goals. In regard to all of the people who have already donated money to Stein’s initiative, The Washington Post noted that both less attention and less money have been given to Democratic candidate Foster Campbell to help him win his Senate runoff election in Louisiana. As of Nov. 24, Campbell’s campaign had raised just half of what Stein’s recount campaign made in one day. Instead of pouring all of their efforts into a futile recount attempt, Liberals should be focusing on initiatives such as getting Campbell elected to the Senate. In the coming months and years, liberals will certainly need to fight hard for what they believe in, and this means working for real policy change, rather than just being bitter and demanding a recount of a resolved election.
These misguided efforts also hint at another consequence of Stein’s plan and the degree of support it has gathered. At a point in time when many Americans already view Democrats and American liberals as thin-skinned and unable to accept defeat, Stein’s initiative only further soils liberals’ reputation. The protests against Trump that erupted in cities nationwide following his election certainly gave many people this impression about liberals before Stein even announced her plan. While people’s choice to protest Trump’s election is certainly their prerogative, to many it was evidence of Clinton supporters’ inability to accept defeat. People’s paranoia regarding Trump is extremely valid, but rather than choosing to be productive and vowing to fight for the policies they desire, many liberals chose to simply head out to the streets and complain that they lost. Supporting Stein’s initiative for a recount only fuels this impression that American liberals have become intransigent, for rather than trying to fight for a certain outcome in unresolved or future proceedings, many liberals have chosen to empty their pockets to order a recount of an election which they definitively lost.
Lastly, Stein’s recount initiative further divides a country that has been torn asunder. While many people, including myself, were extremely disappointed in Clinton’s defeat, our electoral process has spoken. It is now time that we respect the decision that was reached and begin the process of healing a bitterly divided nation. Calling for a recount only maintains existing divisions and keeps the country from moving on as one. Trump’s supporters certainly view the effort as an attempt to undermine their legitimate victory, while many of Clinton’s supporters will certainly cling to the misguided hope that a recount will somehow change the result.
As for Stein, if she truly cares about America and its people, she should relinquish this recount campaign. Whatever her motives may be for this highly unusual action, she has a fundamental misunderstanding of what the country needs going forward. It is time we start attempting to understand each other and discuss the issues that made this election so polarizing, rather than clinging to our past grudges and hoping causing a ruckus will change something. After all, we are the United States of America, and Stein’s recount crusade only further divides us.
Cameron Hall is a College freshman from Columbus, Ohio.