Initial Election Thoughts

1. The first takeaway is that Trump won decisively. He won the popular vote*, and ran up the score in the Electoral College. Astonishingly, more than half the white women who voted, voted for him. This is not a Bush v. Gore nail-biter, but a complete repudiation of Hillary Clinton, the value of expertise, and the extant political system.

2. The GOP, such as it is, no longer has the luxury of being the party of obstruction. With control of both House and Senate as well as the White House and a shit-ton of state capitols and legislatures, Republicans need to actually govern. Last time they were in charge, they started an expensive and unnecessary war in Iraq that led to the creation of ISIS, and also almost collapsed the global economy. Maybe they’ll be better now.

3. Hillary would have presided over a Republican Congress in both Houses, eager to impeach her for the slightest infraction. HRC with Congress would have been amazing. Without? Not so much. I love Hillary, and she deserved better than this, but maybe Jill Stein and Susan Sarandon and Julian Assange are right, and leftist change will come quicker this way.

4. As for Trump, no one has any idea what he might do, least of all him. Most of his campaign promises (the wall, the mass deportations, the religious immigration tests) are clearly untenable. His negative attributes have been covered exhaustively everywhere and need not be trotted out now, but he has been a Democrat for most of his life, and a study of his impromptu policy proposals suggest that he still entertains liberal beliefs. Certainly Ivanka, the person he seems to have the most trust in, is no boilerplate Republican. Because he shattered the party to the core, he has no obligation to implement any of the GOP policies, and it’s likely he won’t bother trying.

5. The real question is, how much of the job will he outsource? He indicated months ago that his plan was to cede day to day operations of the presidency to his VP — which is bad news, because Mike Pence is an odious human being. On the other hand, Pence is also a professional politician with executive experience, who might at least perform the job functions without launching nukes at North Korea. The presidency is part CEO, part figurehead; Trump could serve the latter function without causing too much damage, one hopes.

6. Much ink will be spilled in the coming weeks on blame. Why did this happen? This is a waste of time. In Trump against Hillary Clinton, we had two black swans pecking each other. This is unlikely to ever happen again, and there is no good reason to point to, say, the white woman demographic as the culprit, or protest voters who pulled the lever for Jill Stein. There will always be third party voters, and third party returns in this election were not big. No, the reasons for this outcome will not recur, and are therefore irrelevant.

7. With respect to Trump’s well-documented hate speech and hateful and discriminatory behavior…this is the cause of the gravest concern. One likes to imagine that even if his own prejudices are sexist, racist, and anti-Semitic, he can somehow rise above them as the Chief Executive — especially when so many people will be waiting for him to misstep. As for his disgusting treatment of women, sadly, he will not be the first sexual predator to be president. That Hillary’s husband was himself a lech negated a lot of the impact of “grab them by the pussy.” As a Clinton, she did not have the moral high ground she needed to use that against him. It made the “false equivalence” easier. One hopes that a 70-year-old man on his third wife, with a rape trial hanging over him, will be able to control himself once ensconced in the White House. We’ll see. Likewise, one prays that as president, he can put away his petty lusts for vengeance against journalists, judges, rivals, and the like, or at least that they won’t be a detriment. (For example, he’s not really going to investigate Hillary again, is he?) I’m less optimistic on that point.

8. Look, more than half the country wanted Trump, believing he will Make America Great Again. And while he’s unlikely to smash ISIS on Day One, or replace Obamacare with something “tremendous,” the fact is, he’s been counted out for months and delivered. There’s always a chance that liberal eggheads like me were wrong, and that he’ll be good. All we can do now is root hard for that outcome — which, after what we just witnessed, would not be the strangest thing that has happened.

 

* As of this writing. Looks like HRC might prevail in popular vote.