The night of the election I went to bed about 9:30 PM (Eastern) after telling my son that Trump was “pulling away”. The channels I sampled were keen to say “no surprises” had yet occurred based on their predictions of who would win or lose in this city, that state. But they also broadcast the down-ballot races from time-to-time at the bottom of the screen in silent text. I began to notice the pattern of incumbents, mostly Republicans in the Rust-belt, holding on to their seats after only 5% to 15% of the votes were counted. It was clear enough to me Clinton would lose and Trump had unexpectedly long coat-tails despite the way many prominent Republican leaders had distanced themselves from him. Although I drew my conclusions intuitively, I could see Michael Moore’s outline for a Trump path to the White House was becoming a fact and the momentum was evident.
It is now 48 hrs after the election results were declared. The pollsters are still making apologies and offering convoluted defenses for how good their models were but how unconventionally Trump and the voting public behaved. They don’t say “black swan”, but that is what they hint.
Republicans who once shunned Trump are donning his puppet strings (if he will let them). Those already in his thrall are in the queue for the next installment of The Apprentice. He is the piper who calls the tune, the DJ who sets the beat.
The Democratic Party is still trying to put a good face on a candidate and a campaign that was outmaneuvered and rejected for being both artificial and smug.
Then there is the “Why do we have an Electoral College between the Oval Office and popular vote anyway?” refrain which seems to come up after every election I can remember.
Recrimination and self-recrimination have to burn themselves out. The panic and the fear promoted by this extraordinarily bitter campaign will burn out despite the demonstrations in the streets. The post mortem is already reflecting the smoother, soothing sound I heard today: “Oh, you know voters always vote against an incumbent president’s party if he has been in office for two terms–regular as clockwork! They just want change! It’s just the way Americans are.”
I predict the Democrats will eventually retrench but the result will be to become more Republican. There is no mystery in this. They have to. They are subordinate, have no imagination, have compromised their power and their principles, and are the subject of intense ridicule. They are far from home and whistling in the darkness.
On the other hand, the new President is going to age rapidly like all presidents before him because he is going to do something he hasn’t done in 50 years: on-the-job training. I expect Trump will delegate the hard work to Pence as a result and reserve any glory to himself. His Administration will test the checks-and-balances. As the Manager-in-Chief, he will have more hands on the various levers of government power, but he does not have a mandate. That will present some issues.
Our governmental architecture is capable of withstanding a lot. ‘A lot’ includes a Civil War. Whether or not our nation was great, is great, or will ever be great again I do not know, but it does have a pretty durable structure, a strong constitution so-to-speak. We may survive, but we may not thrive. The republic is about to endure one whale of a test. We are about to see if the Founding Fathers are the geniuses they are made out to be in our grade-school history books and Broadway shows.
If you think I am doing a lot of whistling in the dark myself, you’re mostly right. I am doing my best to be hopeful. Our system was designed to prevent tyrants from governing us. I think the past 20 yrs of gridlock suggest it is still pretty resilient. I don’t know if it has ever been tested against a sociopath, but I am pretty sure it can handle it.