The election results are stunning. They're still coming in as I write this, but it looks like Trump will be our next President. (If this is wrong when you read this, please ignore.) I don't know what to say, but have a thousand things on my mind. So you'll have to pardon this post, which will be stream of consciousness. And I'm not going back to look for typos.
I think this is the most shocking Presidential election of my lifetime, and I don't think it's close. There have been weird elections, like Bush versus Gore, but that was due to a ridiculously close result. This one felt more like Bush versus Kerry, where it felt early on like Bush wasn't going to take it but things reversed. Except those two were normal candidates, while Trump is like no one else.
Boy was I wrong. I just didn't think the public would go for someone so unqualified who acted like such a jerk. (People often talk about the importance of character, but when it comes down to it they don't care that much.) But his economic populism (more than his outsider status) got him both the nomination and the election. And I can understand this, even if I don't like it. The white working class (and this could appeal to anyone in the working class if we didn't have so much identity politics) felt they were in trouble and the ruling class was ignoring them. I'm sure if someone said the things I wanted to hear, politically, I'd put up with a lot of other stuff as well. (And "qualifications" can be overrated--as I've said before, the Presidency isn't a math test--ideology is more important. If you know your way around the map, and are competent in the art of politics, this only makes you worse if you have a foolish ideology.) Thus, Trump won by changing the electoral map and breaking through in the Rust Belt. (Otherwise, even though he took the big three of Florida, Ohio and North Carolina, he would have lost because of trouble in the Southwest, where he didn't take Colorado, New Mexico or Nevada).
Hillary's firewall didn't hold. Demography is destiny, sure, but nothing in politics is permanent. The Dems thought they had the easy road to victory, and that any decent campaign would get to the White House. Now they know better. I've been hearing about the rising level of (officially designated) minority groups changing American politics, and while there's some truth in that, it still hasn't brought the Dems a guaranteed Presidency. Obama was charming, and in the right place at the right time, but don't forget he lost the House, the Senate, and now the White House for his party.
I don't think Hillary would have been a good President. I don't think she was a good Senator or Secretary of State. But I do feel sorry for her. (I don't take politics personally.) Eight or nine years ago, she figured she had a straightforward path to the White House. It must have really hurt someone with so much ambition to be denied something she could almost taste, and by her own party no less. But after eight years of lying in wait, it looked like her turn had finally come around. Nope. This loss, I would guess, is even more bitter. Is there any chance she'll run again? Let's say Trump is awful (not hard to believe)--would Hillary say "I'm giving you one last chance"? Would her party nominate her at this point?
I take no joy in knowing how Hillary supporters must feel. But I do know a few conservatives (well, Trump supporters--not necessarily the same thing) who are feeling like this right now:
One odd thing about the coverage. I flipped back and forth between the channels and I'm pretty sure that the early exit polls showed Hillary taking it. The news people didn't want to give it away, but they seemed fairly certain it was over. But like in 2004, the early exit polls must have been wrong. And they got the word and suddenly they woke up. And then as Trump started taking states he needed to take, and then going ahead in states that would put him over the top, some of the media people who were not Trump fans started seeming alarmed. Most were professional, but a few appeared to be on the verge of tears. And some commentators started lashing out, calling Trump voters racist and sexist. Perhaps it's inevitable when you have something snatched away from you, but this sort of thing isn't helpful. In fact, it's ugly. And is actually part of the reason Trump won--a lot of people of good will are tired of being called names.
What Trump needs to do is what every President-elect does: call for unity. Explain to America we're all on the same side and he wants to bring everyone together. He might even try to explain that he's been caricatured, and reassure everyone he's fighting for them. He should do this, but with Trump you just never know.
He also needs to reassure the markets, which have taken a huge drop in futures. I think they're overreacting, and as long as Trump doesn't act like a crazy person, even if he doesn't particularly like free trade and wants to renegotiate everything, and has some odd ideas about foreign affairs, I assume the markets will calm down.
Trump should also keep his ego in check, even if that doesn't seem possible. Most people voted against him, something worth remembering. More likely he'll remember how he did it his way against all the opposition--but needs to remember he needs Congress to do most things.
The GOP held the House, as expected, and the Senate, less expected. I suppose this is good for Trump, but there are still some hard feeling within his own party. But nothing succeeds like success. (Or does it? Ted Cruz won a seat and then turned off everyone in his own party.) The best victory in the Senate was the unexpected win Ron Johnson had over Russ Feingold. Feingold is a politician who exists to take away our freedom of speech, and he deserves to remain kicked out of the Senate.
A lot of show biz people are very unhappy. Pretty much all of show biz (except country music and Chachi) supported Clinton. They're free to believe what they want, but I hope they understand no one really cares what they think about politics.
A shout out to Nate Silver. Even he didn't see what was coming, but he saw there was greater uncertainty than most would admit, and that a Trump victory wasn't outrageous. He got attacked by some of his friends on the left for this, but looks pretty good today.
Many Hillary supporters blamed James Comey for her problems. He played his part, but Trump had his own major scandal, so they sort of canceled each other out.
Hillary was an awful candidate--not how she ran so much as who she is. She isn't pleasant to listen to, and doesn't inspire. Could another Dem have beaten Trump? Very possibly. Though I'm not sure if a Bernie Sanders could. It's a sign of how far the party has moved that Hillary was considered too centrist. A real centrist Dem (with a little charisma) could probably have beaten Trump, but would the present-day party nominate one? Remember, two-thirds of the country don't think Trump has the temperament to be President, but millions (tens of millions) were willing to hold their nose and vote for him.
By the way, as I live in California, my vote didn't matter. It didn't matter much in the vote for Senator either, since the only two candidates were Democrats. There were also a bunch of stupid propositions, some of which passed, generally designed to make life even more expensive and less pleasant. So I get the pleasure of living in a leftist paradise while also residing in a country soon to be run by a thin-skinned egomaniac who's never held office.
By the way, this shouldn't need saying, but America is more than ready for a female President. Both parties have no trouble with women as senators, governors, representatives, etc. Hillary just wasn't the right candidate. So all you whiners who ask "How will I explain this to my daughter?" perhaps the answer is "Anyone can grow up to be President, but no one will hand it to you."
Another "by the way": while the main takeaway from the election is the popularity of economic populism, and the secondary one is a repudiation of Clinton (though she did get a lot of votes), let's not also forget there's some repudiation of Obama in there.
I admit Trump is such an unknown, and odd figure, that his Presidency is scary. But while I think (and hope) he's calmer than his caricature, the good thing is just about everyone is ready to keep him honest--Democrats, Republicans, Supreme Court Justices, the media, show biz, etc.
I could go on and on. In fact, I think I have. But this is set to post in a few minutes anyway, so I better let it go up. Please leave your comments. It'd be nice to get a conversation going.