California Forum

An old soldier ready to defend the Constitution – from whoever wants to take over by force

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has often claimed that the election is rigged.
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has often claimed that the election is rigged. The Associated Press

Words come easily and are frequently cheap. A couple of Facebook neighbors have bought into the “civil war” talk that has bubbled to the surface this election year. They predict ominous outcomes if Donald Trump doesn’t win. I’m not sympathetic.

I may be a broken-down old soldier, but I will defend the Constitution from those on either side who threaten to take power by force.

Ironically, when I remind the Facebook warriors of Bush-Gore in 2000, they insist that was different. When George W. Bush was declared winner that of the presidential election, many of my university colleagues were distraught.

“It was fixed,” more than one suggested. Others announced they’d never vote again and that the Bush family was corrupt. Still others claimed to distrust the entire American system. One seemed especially upset, claiming “No one I know voted for Bush. How could he win if they didn’t cheat?”

Well, the college where I taught offered among the least objective election demographics available. The overwhelming majority of its population was liberal or moderate. I voted against George W. Bush, but immediately defended his victory and the election system, just as I later defended Barack Obama’s, urging that they be given benefit of the doubt.

To me, the system was and is far more important than any one election or candidate – an inherently conservative position.

The promiscuous use of “they” in recent rhetoric is interesting. Apparently it refers to non-whites and white liberals, or anyone with whom a certain political class disagrees. “Taking our country back” unsubtly asserts white control, and most of the people I hear endorsing it seem to have no idea of all that non-white Americans have contributed to our history.

What about the accomplishments of the Nisei 442nd Regimental Combat Team or of the Latinos who have buttressed western agriculture? Memorable artistic contributions of African Americans, and Italian Americans and Jewish Americans, among others, enhance American culture. We palefaces have certainly done our fair share, too, of course. Building America has been a grand mutual effort, even in the face of criminals such as Bull Conner and the Ku Klux Klan, crimes such as slavery or anti-Semitism.

While no non-whites or women signed the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, the men who did sign them were smart enough to leave the way open for an enriched population to participate as history changed not only our society but the world.

And change is both natural and inevitable.

Gerald Haslam is a California author whose 2006 novel “Grace Period” won this year’s Legacy Fiction Eric Hoffer Award. Contact Haslam at