Thank Gawd it’s over—or is it? With the unbelievable election of Lord Trump to the presidency, no one really knows what to expect. It was an ugly campaign of personal assassination from the two most unliked and least qualified/prepared candidates to ever run.
Donald Trump is no Napoleon, but for those of us who have cast him as merely a comic-opera authoritarian, a parody of a world-historical figure, he has won a truly astonishing victory, and won it in spite of polls and experts and all the data nerds and get-out-the-vote consultants who labored tirelessly for Hillary Clinton…in spite of the opposition of the Republican Party’s past presidents and presidential nominees and most of conservatism’s intelligentsia…in spite of the media that had gleefully lifted him up in the GOP primary and then believed (reasonably, but wrongly) that it had torn him down…and, finally, in spite of his own acts of self-sabotage, which seemed egregious but turned out to be insufficient to keep him from his destiny, we welcome President-elect Donald Trump.
So here he is, soon to be the most powerful man on the face of the earth, with no popular mandate but a Republican majority nonetheless awaiting his direction, a congressional court of hacks and flatterers around him, a bureaucracy and a deep state unsure how to respond to him, an unstable world regarding his ascent with apprehension (or, in Moscow and Beijing, satisfaction), and none of the preparation that even the most inexperienced of modern American presidents have brought to this lofty office.
What happens next promises (and threatens) to make history as nothing has in America—not even the trauma of 9-11 or the election of the first black president—since the Cold War ended almost 30 years ago, or since the social crises of the 1960s and 1970s further back than that.
On the global stage, Trump’s populism and nationalism makes him very much a man of his times; but in the American context, he is like nothing we have seen before—a shatterer of all norms and conventi8onal assumptions, a man more likely to fail catastrophically than other presidents, more constitutionally dangerous than other presidents, but also more likely to carry us into a different political era, a post-neoliberal, post-end-of-history politics, than any other imaginable president.
You can sum up the whole amazing Trump win in a quote from Maureen Dowd’s column in the N.Y. Times, “The press took him literally, but not seriously. His supporters took him seriously, but not literally.”
The Election Results
Clinton Trump Total
Electoral College 228 290 538
Popular Vote 60.8M 60.5M 126M
This is the fifth time the popular vote winner did not get enough electoral votes to win the presidency; 1824, 1876, 1888, 2000, and now 2016.
Voter turnout was up almost 5% over 2012.
Saint Hillary outspent the Donald 3:1.
In addition to the presidency, the Republicans made impressive gains at all levels of government.
House of Representatives 193 237
Senate 48 51
Evan Bayh and Russ Feingold (both Dems) faded in their attempt to regain their Senate seats.
Governors 15 35
What the People Said
- Enough is enough. There was a mother-lode of resentment and disappointment.
- We have suffered with a declining share of the economic pie.
- The Affordable Care Act was a fraud. Unfair to call it Obamacare. He didn’t have a clue how it would work. The main culprits in this poorly conceived plan were the insurance companies who backed it.
- We like Obama, but he was an ineffective leader with failed policies.
- Almost as surprising as Trump’s win was the Republicans holding on to majority (slim) in the Senate and commanding control of the House.
Hillary lost because she:
- Skirted a few too many laws/ethical questions.
- Sincerely believed she had never done anything wrong.
- Tried to portray herself as a virgin nun.
- Represented another four years of Obama’s stagnant economic growth.
- Was not a good candidate. She didn’t like campaigning.
She can now audition for a role on Law & Order SVU.
What is Likely to Happen
- Both parties will have to look at how to realign. Republicans have to cure an out-of-control primary system; Democrats have to find more tuned-in candidates.
- Trump has to forge a working partnership relationship with Congress. He’s not the king.
- By the end of 2017, we will likely face another recession.
- Corporate taxes will finally be lowered to stimulate domestic expansion and job creation.
- He will have to compromise on immigration and most other campaign promises to get anything done.
- Chuck Schumer, the new Senate minority leader, will be almost as difficult as Harry Reid to compromise on Republican legislation.
- We will have a more conservative Supreme Court.
Next to Harry Truman defeating Tom Dewey in 1948, this was the greatest surprise in election history. Trump succeeded in burying both the Bush and Clinton family dynasties.
Everyone figured the market would go into convulsions for a few days before realizing that not much had actually changed. Then it would be back to “normal” and stock prices, bond yields and pretty much everything else would move along as they were before.
Well, we seemed to have skipped that middle part where the market panicked. Instead, it opened last Tuesday flat and ended up as one of the strongest days this year.
Inauguration will be a going-away party for the entertainers vowing to leave the country if Trump was elected. Bryan Cranston, Samuel L. Jackson, Barbra Streisand, and others say they’ll pack their bags. As for Cher, merely moving out of the country isn’t sufficient, she promises to go to Jupiter (Cher, that’s the big one without the rings). And when Miley Cyrus and Lena Dunhma join the USA-exiting crowd, tattoo artists start worrying about their livelihoods.
Let’s all go to the Bon Voyage party.
Remember, I never thought there was any way he could win the primary or the general election. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I wish him every success in trying to change the dysfunction in Washington.
The next surprise may be he actually accomplishes quite a bit. Let’s give him a chance!