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Let's Talk About It: Bridging the Divide



Editor's note: This is one in a series of opinion pieces solicited by the Journal. In the immediate aftermath of Nov. 8, it became very clear that people need safe spaces to discuss their ideas and feelings, and generally process what was the ugliest and most vitriolic presidential contest in generations. To that end, we reached out to a variety of community stakeholders, people who we felt could help starts this community dialogue. The response was overwhelming, and a full list of submissions complete with links can be found at the bottom of this post. We hope you'll also join the conversation by commenting online, writing letters to the editor and talking to each other.

I write this in Kabul, Afghanistan, while serving on Active Duty for the U.S. Army, in what is by now America's longest war. No one can say that America is not a divided nation. The popular vote, although Mrs. Clinton received a higher total, was relatively close. Either New York or California easily provided Mrs. Clinton with her majority. One analysis revealed that Mr. Trump's true margin of victory in the Electoral College amounted to 107,000 votes from Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

Humboldt County during the primary gave Bernie Sanders the highest percentage of any county in California. In the general election Clinton topped Mr. Trump by 25 percent of the vote. So those results point to some of that division and at least empirical evidence that a Trump Administration will have to bridge that divide in order to re-unite the residents of this county.

The United States prides itself on a peaceful transition of power. This will be the fifth President that I have served under, and the second time that transition occurred while I was deployed in a war zone. Even with protests, America should be profoundly proud that is our heritage.

The divide is not just shown in the respective vote totals of the candidates, but in other issues that Humboldt voted on. For example, a casual observer of the election would have noticed that the two candidates were diametrically opposed on the issue of gun rights. Although, the Supreme Court decided eight years ago that the Second Amendment was an individual right, the supporters of Mr. Trump were right to fear both what a Clinton Administration would have done on gun control or the types of Supreme Court justices she would have appointed to potentially walk back that important ruling. Yet, California had an initiative on the ballot to restrict the size of certain types of gun magazines, and to conduct background checks on individuals purchasing ammunition. The initiative passed in California, and passed with the voters of Humboldt County. With the exception of abortion, there is no issue that inures more passion than that one. The county of Humboldt was not in lock step with the Trump position.

Trump ran on a campaign platform of being very tough on crime. Hardly a new tradition for a Republican candidate. There is little that the federal government can do as it relates to state prosecutorial decisions, but again the voters had an initiative on the ballot to potentially reduce (perhaps substantially) the sentences of prison inmates. The initiative passed, and the voters of Humboldt preferred the leniency approach by a whopping 35 percent of the vote. Humboldt County was not in lock step with the Trump position. Earlier votes by Humboldt County citizens, such as Proposition 47, reveal there is a sea change from decades of being tough on crime. The county of Humboldt was not in lock step with the Trump position.

At the time this piece goes to publication, the future Trump Administration cabinet is being nominated. One of the most important positions will be that of the U.S. attorney general. The early line favors former U.S. Attorney and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The Obama Administration definitely took a softer approach to marijuana prosecutions, including pledges to respect the votes in states that had legalized it. In 2016, California and Humboldt County voted in favor of Proposition 64, which legalized personal use of marijuana (it was only a $100 fine before that), but also made growing and possession for sale of marijuana only a misdemeanor. Giuliani would seem to be in lock step with a tough-on-crime approach, and is likely to look at marijuana differently than the previous administration. The state can pass whatever laws it chooses but the federal government still has the ability to prosecute as it sees fit. It remains to be seen if it will decide to invest resources in the prosecution of marijuana cases but, again, the voters of Humboldt took a different path than the statements of the incoming administration.

Additionally, much has been written that the Republicans will now have the votes and the President to overturn the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. There is much fault to find in this law but many probably do not know that the brand new and modern Open Door Community Health Clinic in Eureka was built through funding from Obamacare. Many county residents are also receiving MediCal, the insurance for the poor in California. A repeal could endanger the increased funding stream for that program. If the law is repealed, it will affect a great many of the county's citizens who received MediCal through that law.

Finally, Mr. Trump promised increased resources and the best care possible for veterans. The Eureka VA clinic has one of the largest patient bases of any healthcare clinic in the county. Many veterans criticize the care they receive. Additional resources would come in handy, and the county's veteran population would probably wholeheartedly endorse those proposals.

So the final deciding factor whether the division will continue between the Trump Administration and the citizens of Humboldt, who by a significant majority favored Mrs. Clinton, will be the policy proposals and initiatives it seeks to support. The traditional left leaning inclinations of Humboldt County will likely rarely agree with the Trump Administration.

Allan Dollison is a local attorney and former prosecutor currently deployed in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army Reserve.

Submissions from NAACP of Eureka First Vice President Liz Smith, local attorney and U.S. Army reservist Allan Dollison, North Coast People's Alliance Steering Committee Member Tamara McFarland, Eureka Police Chief Andrew Mills, Humboldt County Central Democratic Committee Chair Bob Service, local programmer and freelance writer Mitch Trachtenberg, Humboldt County Green Party Chair Dana Silvernale, Rabbi Naomi Steinberg, Humboldt State University assistant professor of history Leena Dallesheh, Friends of the Eel River Executive Director Scott Greacen and League of Women Voters Humboldt County President Rollin Richmond can be found by clicking their names.


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