So what now?
Not everyone is asking that question yet. Emotions are still raw, and it will take time for many to heal. I’m grateful to note that my FB feed is almost entirely gloat-free, and last night’s winners seem to have no appetite for adding to the pain of the Hillary supporters. I take that as a good sign. We’ll need a surfeit of kindness in the days ahead. For my part, I’m strangely at ease with last night’s results. Many people I love are not.
Prior to the actual returns coming in, I had resigned myself to the reality of another corrupt Clinton presidency, and to have that possibility eliminated was a genuine relief. It was quickly replaced by trepidation about what a Trump presidency will mean. I don’t think anyone knows, least of all the President-Elect himself.
I think there are several things that it does not mean. In the lamentations of the Clinton faithful, I’ve seen warnings that “women will lose all access to birth control,” that “gay people will be rounded up and put in prison,” and that Trump’s critics will start to mysteriously disappear. I don’t think any of those things are remotely likely, nor do I believe abortion rights or same-sex marriage are genuinely at risk. I also don’t really worry that nuclear war is in the cards, although the battle over the Supreme Court will likely feel nuclear. The Republicans, for over a year, have refused to consider a legitimate SCOTUS nomination by a sitting president, so Democrats in the Senate will have no qualms about filibustering any and all Trump nominees now and forever. Given the wafer-thin Republican Senate majority and the deep unpopularity of the incoming president, gridlock will be the order of the day.
Which is fine by me. I’m a big fan of gridlock. The Constitution was written to make government inefficient by design to avoid concentrations of power. Gridlock means that even the worst presidents don’t have the ability to bring down the Republic singlehandedly. I think Trump will soon discover that he can’t do a lot of the crazy crap he thought he’d be able to do, and he is likely to find the presidency a whole lot more frustrating than he anticipated. That’s probably a good thing.
I also think it’s a good thing to see this election as a referendum on the media as much as the candidates. The smugness of the press was smacked down hard, and it was a smackdown that was richly deserved. This election cycle removed even the veneer of objectivity from most of the talking heads, and many of them will find themselves struggling to get their credibility back. It’s impossible to eliminate bias from any human endeavor, so to see the objectivity pretense exposed for what it is was very satisfying, indeed. For my part, I think we’d be better served by a media that is open and honest about who’s side they’re on.
This should also provide a welcome reminder that nobody in politics really knows anything more than anyone else. Everybody, every step of the way, got this wrong. Everyone, that is, except Scott Adams of Dilbert fame, who eerily got every element of this election right. If you’re not reading his blog, you’re really missing out.
Someone asked this morning whether or not it’s time to get rid of the Electoral College, given that Hillary is on track to win the popular vote. Yes, it is. The Electoral College distorts the whole process and leaves out a huge chunk of voters from the campaign. A genuine national election makes much more sense.
EDIT: I’m getting pushback on my Electoral College opposition, and I’m rethinking this to some degree. The idea that elections would then become contests to only persuade huge population centers is problematic and a valid concern.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I don’t know if this helped anyone feel better, or if it only depressed you even further, but I’m no longer willing to let my life be defined by something as squalid as politics. There will always be goodness and virtue in the world, regardless of whether or not there is any in the Oval Office.
EDIT: I’m also seeing some complaints about how third parties somehow made this outcome possible. I don’t think that’s remotely true. I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either party, and without a third party option, I probably would have just left the POTUS slot blank. If someone is disgusted enough with the two major nominees that they’re willing to “throw their vote away,” that’s not someone willing to sign on to one of the parties if their other choices are removed.