Nation Votes, Heaves Sigh After Bitter Election

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton during United States presidential election 2016. (Gage Skidmore)
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. (Gage Skidmore)

The polling station at Leisure World’s clubhouse in Silver Spring Tuesday morning was quiet, when resident Rafael Mevorach, 70, left after casting his ballot. Asked about the election season that was ending, he summed up his thoughts with three words:

“Oh my God!”

Mevorach said he supports Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential race. Leisure World resident Gwen Fehringer, 79, said she voted for Republican Donald Trump.

But she had no illusions about the election settling the country’s divisions.

“I think it’s the most contentious election I’ve ever seen, and no matter who wins they’re going to have half the people hating them and it’s going to be very difficult for whoever wins,” she said.

After a bitter race between Clinton and Trump, arguably the two most unpopular candidates in recent years, voters at the polls Tuesday expressed exhaustion and resignation.

The same emotions could be felt by Jewish voters in other nearby cities.

“It’s a nasty election,” said Cindy Kleiman, who lives in Pikesville, on her way out of voting at the polling station located at North Oaks Retirement Community. “I’m so glad it’s over.”

She added: “The best part of the election were the ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketches.”

For Scott Kleeman, who was voting in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Penn Wynne, the fireworks between Clinton and Trump had given him sensory overload.

“It’s enough with the commercials. It’s enough with the negative campaigning,” he said. “It’s been a huge disruption.”

Clinton, 69, has consistently led in the polls throughout the race, although sometimes within the polls’ margin of error. Polls heading into Tuesday showing her leading Trump, 70, by an average of three points, 45 percent to 42 percent.

Trump had stated multiple times that the election is “rigged,” and during the third presidential debate refused to accept the outcome of the election. A campaign ad released Sunday drew criticism from some Jewish groups as trafficking in anti-Semitic stereotypes.

The ad attacked the “political and economic machine of the world,” and showed images of Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellin, billionaire and Clinton supporter George Soros and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, all of whom are Jews.

“There is no place in civil political discourse for the perpetuation of harmful and baseless stereotypes,” Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, wrote in a statement Monday.

“Whether intentional or not, the images and rhetoric in this ad touch on subjects that anti-Semites have used for ages,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the ADL,

wrote in a statement.

Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) told CNN that he thought the ad was “something of a German shepherd whistle” to the Jewish community.

“It clearly had sort of Elders of Zion kind of feel to it, international banking crisis — plot or conspiracy, rather — and then a number of Jews,” he said on “State of the Union.”

Clinton’s lead shrank in recent weeks, partially due FBI Director James Comey announcement on Oct. 28 that he was reopening the investigation into her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state. Clinton had held an 11 point lead over Trump. She drew ahead after a leaked video from 2005 showed Trump making sexually predatory comments about women.

If she is elected as the 45th president of the United States, Clinton would be the country’s first woman president and the first spouse of a former president to win the White House.


Maryland Senate Race

In the battle for retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski’s (D-Md.) seat, District 8 Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) is expected to win fairly easily against Republican Kathy Szeliga, 55, the minority whip in the state Senate. Van Hollen defeated District 4 Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) in the primary.

If Van Hollen, 57, is elected to the Senate, he will “find himself in the center of leadership,” said Michele Swers, professor of American government at Georgetown University. Swers noted that Van Hollen served on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and helped the party raise money for candidates, a position he served at the request of then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel.

“I think that he was looking to move up in the party leadership,” she said.

Swers also pointed to Van Hollen’s experience as a ranking member of the Budget Committee while Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) was the committee chair. Van Hollen’s ability to reach across the aisle is a strength, she thinks, but likely won’t change the gridlock on Capitol Hill.

“He was in the House and that didn’t get any more bipartisan,” she said.

Swers said Van Hollen has big shoes to fill in succeeding 30-year veteran Mikulski, but that he has a good chance of being reelected in six years. She said that he could accomplish much in the area of campaign finance reform, an issue he is particularly passionate about.

“I think he could have a long legacy in the Senate,” she said.

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