Michael Moore called it. While most of us were thinking the Latino vote surge or female voters would put Hillary over the top, white working class folk in the rust belt hurt by globalization and lower paying jobs gave the system a “big fuck you” as Moore predicted. Unable to hold Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, Clinton fell to Donald Trump, despite winning the popular vote.
Now what? The internet has been a mess. Many of Trump’s opponents are accusing Trump voters of enabling racism, sexism, and misogyny with their vote. They are brutal in their critique, even attacking me for suggesting that the country could take Trump’s victory in stride and that things aren’t all bad. On the right there is either gloating (fair enough – they suffered liberal gloating when Obama won) or annoyance at the vehemence of the anti-Trump rhetoric.
So, at the risk of annoying those who are angry about Trump’s victory, I’d recommend everyone relax. Chill. Or if you’re really upset, organize and get active! This isn’t the end of democracy, we’re not going to have a resurgent KKK, gay folk don’t have to go back to the closet and Muslims are not going to be put in internment camps. Some of the policies of the next two years will anger the left, but take it in stride.
In 2018 people vote again. If Trump governs poorly or makes unpopular decisions, the Democrats will have a chance to do to the GOP what the Republicans did to Obama and the Democrats in 2010. In 2020 people will have a chance to find a strong candidate to run against Trump, and try again. In those two to four years, the world isn’t going to end.
There is also a generational thing going on. The under 30 crowd has been raised in schools and universities where sexist, racism, homophobic and misogynistic language and ideals are banned – you can get in trouble in school now for saying, “that’s so gay,” something that wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow not that long ago. That’s good – this generation is in the process of creating a world where racism, sexism and homophobia are rejected.
But the over 30 crowd is still part of a culture where such ideas are common. Many people think homosexuality is a perversion and shouldn’t not be tolerated as such ideas will corrupt the youth (let alone transgender bathrooms!) Sexism is powerful despite decades of progress. Those voices are real, and will be heard – at least until the older generation dies out.
Finally, unlike Ted Cruz and many other Republicans, Trump is not a conservative. He is probably nothing – he doesn’t seem to have core principles, whatever is in his interest at any given moment is where he stands. He’s a con man who just pulled the biggest con of his life! So who knows – he might reshape the Republican party to a more centrist or even liberal bent, or he might end up with internal GOP dissent.
But even if Trump is as bad as his opponents fear, that’s motivation for the left to mimic the right after 2008 – their antipathy for Obama lead to the tea party, and huge gains in the midterm elections. If Clinton had been elected, the Democratic party would have remained the party of the status quo and DC insiders for four more years; now the party can recast itself. Being in complete opposition, it will benefit from frustration and anger at Washington in coming elections.
Ultimately, America’s democracy has lasted a long time. I don’t think one bad President will create a collapse. I don’t think homophobia and racism will be worse because of Trump. But maybe this is the start of a process of reform for both parties – for the system. In any event, if you’re a Democrat, don’t fret. 2018 and 2020 will come quickly and I would not be surprised if those elections evoke much different emotions than this one!
#1 by Lisa Chesser on November 11, 2016 - 21:35
True. If we had handed the vote over to our children, they would’ve voted for Hillary Clinton, minus the ones who still listen and follow everything their parents say. We’d never be having this melt down. But, as usual, adults voted and screwed everything up.
#2 by Gary DeWaay on November 11, 2016 - 23:06
His Brietbart buddy will almost certainly be Chief of staff. And take a peek at this:
“There’s also a climate change denier for the EPA, a fracking billionaire for the Department of Energy and another oil man for Department of the Interior, although he’s rumored to want to hire a woman for that job, so former governors Sarah Palin and Jan Brewer have come up. The Texas agriculture secretary who tweeted last week that Hillary Clinton is a “cunt” may be rewarded with the Agriculture Department. The first congressman to endorse Trump has apparently told friends that the incoming president has promised him the Commerce Department.”
He sure might be filling his cabinet with kooks, cronies, and morons.
#3 by List of X on November 12, 2016 - 00:38
I agree that Trump doesn’t seem to have any principles other than doing whatever benefits Donald Trump – but he’s been living in a right-wing bubble for the last year and a half, and he’s adopting their principles. You could tell by the way he’s been occasionally bringing up various obscure right-wing conspiracy theories during the debates, and in a way that it was clear that he was assuming that everyone already knew what he was talking about.
And I agree that one bad president can’t do much damage, but here we have a (very likely to be) bad president who leads the party that controls the House, the Senate, and,p once Scalia’s seat is filled, the Supreme Court. And it’s possible that he’ll just let the Republican leadership pass whatever bills they want and sign them into law without even looking at them.
#4 by Sarah on November 12, 2016 - 00:46
No need to panic? Scott, I respect both your writing and your professional knowledge, but, no need to panic?
While you have included generational perspectives, you seemed to have forgotten the feminine one. Let’s not even start with the fact that it’s insultingly horrifying to have a misogynist of this caliber in the highest office of our great nation (ok, so I did start with that fact).
What about the fact that there is a great possibility that the Republican President-Elect may be nominating up to 3 Supreme Court judges that could impact that court’s decisions for 40 years? And might I mention his Vice President-Elect, Pence, who is in the dark ages about women’s rights? A woman’s right to choose and access to women’s health care could easily be reduced or lost in the next 4 years.
On the President-Elect’s immediate agenda is overturning ObamaCare as well as the Bill that protected individuals with pre-existing conditions. That Bill is called the GINA Bill, and the reason I know that is because I fought for it. I fought for it in honor of a student I worked with, a student who was dying of Juvenile Huntington’s Disease (JHD) at the same time his father was dying of the same disease, adult-onset Huntington’s Disease (HD). The family had to pay out-of -pocket for medical expenses due to the fact that JHD and HD were considered genetic, pre-existing conditions. It ruined the family financially.
Yes, Scott, I am panicked. And as President Obama said during a recent pro-Clinton rally, on these issues “I’m fired up! I’m ready to go”
#5 by Scott Erb on November 12, 2016 - 09:19
I think the key is to use this energy to make sure the GOP majority doesn’t last past 2018. Then in 2020 nominate and elect someone who can put us back on the right path.
#6 by Sarah on February 1, 2023 - 20:16
Re-reading my November 2016 comment, I think I was incredibly on point, Scott.
Hope both you and your family are doing well, post-Trump administration and somewhat post-pandemic.
#7 by Scott Erb on February 1, 2023 - 21:34
Sarah – so great to hear from you, I hope you are doing well! It’s been a long time since I blogged and yeah – Trump really turned out to be worse than I thought, but the country at least rejected him. I’m doing well – one of my sons is studying at Orono, and the other is in 11th grade and lives with me. But life is good!
#8 by Lee on November 12, 2016 - 17:56
I have felt panicked myself. However I am trying to take a deep breath and wait to see what will happen. The rational part of me knows that we are not likely to see tons of changes in a 4 year time span. If we are foolish enough to go for a second term I will be more worried. I did hear last night that he is all ready backpedaling on removing Obamacare so possibly you are right and things will ot be as bad as I have feared.
#9 by lbwoodgate on November 13, 2016 - 21:54
“I don’t think one bad President will create a collapse.”
I agree Scott but what I fear is that he could be the spark that starts the collapse. Our country is already primed for such a fallout with income disparity increasing, racism on the rise and a divisiveness we really haven’t been since the Civil War. There are so many variables at play is that it only takes something of this scale to send our house of cards falling
#10 by JohnnyComeLately on November 14, 2016 - 03:52
8 years of Obama will get you that.