A Week Out And I’m Burnt Out By The Freakout

Ken AshfordElection 2016, Trump & AdministrationLeave a Comment

One week ago today, Donald J Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States.

Jesus, help me.  Help us all.

The reaction from the left — and the center, frankly — has been stunned shock and anger and crying and wailing and gnashing of teeth.  And understandably so.

For me, I’ve just retreated into myself. Mostly because… I think things are going to be fine and people don’t want to hear that.

Let me get a few things out of the way:

1.  Hillary Clinton lost and there is nothing anybody can do about it.  I get that people are in denial, but they need to move on to other stages.  They need to STOP with this ridiculous notion that we can get the electors of the electoral college to change their mind.  NO. WE. CAN’T.  Trump’s electors are going to “vote” for Trump.  They won’t change their mind.  And you wouldn’t want them to, because that sets a precedent for ALL future elections.  And you can no longer talk about voter suppression and voter disenfranchisement when you try to pull off crap like that.

2.  There are lots of reasons that Hillary lost (Kevin Drum sums them all up here) but only one matters.  Yes, she was not the ideal candidate. Yes, the polls were wrong, and that probably includes her internal polls.  Yes, some Bernie douchebags held back.  Yes, the Comey letter stomped down Trump’s downward momentum from the Access Hollywood tape (and had the two events been reversed, Hillary would have won).  But she should have won by a lot — so much so that the Comey letter and its timing shouldn’t have made any difference.  And the ONE overarching reason she lost is because she took the white slightly-older lower middle class vote…. for granted. The perception of that demographic is this: the Democratic Party is the party of special interests.  Dems stand behind the Black Lives Matter people, Dems stand the LBGTQ community, and so on.  But many a white person (men AND women) who is struggling with their mortgage and who does not have job security is thinking, “Who has got MY back?”  The Democratic Party does, but we did a terrible job and messaging that, while Trump spoke directly to it.  So, even though they hated the things he said, they voted for Trump, particular in the Rust Belt — which is why Hillary lost Pennsylvania, and Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Are those people bigots?  No.  Are they supporting bigotry, and racism, and misogyny by voting for Trump?  Some say yes.  Some say “By voting for Trump, you’re not saying you hate blacks, women, gays, etc. — but you ARE saying you don’t care about them.”  Which is bullshit.  It’s just that Trump was the only candidate who acted like he cared about THEM.  Meanwhile, those on the left were telling these voters how they enjoyed white privilege. And they do enjoy white privilege, but they don’t see it, they don’t feel it, and telling them that is just an aggressive dismissal of the very real economic fears that they have.

So let’s make this as clear as possible: this wasn’t a win for racism; this wasn’t a win for misogyny, this wasn’t a win for any of the horrible things that Trump is.  This is a win (and again, Hillary won the popular vote by around 1 million) for Trump because of economic insecurity by many white people in rural areas, coupled with, you know, the electoral college.

So next time around we have to listen to those people. We have to let them know that just because it is a big tent doesn’t mean that the Democrats ONLY care about minorities and subgroups and civil rights.  We can care about all people.


With that out of the way, let me turn to the responses.

I’m down with the protests and all, but it is all kind of scattershot.  We hate Trump.  We hate the electoral college.  Got it.  Neither is going away.

The truth is, I have no fears of a Trump presidency.  I have apprehensions, but not fears.  I’ll explain that in a bit, but let me preface this by saying — this has nothing to do with my white privilege.  I get that as a reasonably well-off white guy, I’m going to be fine no matter what.  The thing is, I see very little (RIGHT NOW) that makes me concerned for anyone else either.

You see, here is something that the Bernie Bros and millennials didn’t understand during the primaries.  For all of Bernie’s pie-in-the-sky promises for what America could be under his brand of Democratic Socialism, it was never going to happen under a Sanders presidency. Why not?  Because the system is not designed for wild lurches to the left.

By the same token, the system is not designed to take wild lurches to the right. As MLK said, the arc of justice bends slowly — and, I suppose, the forces against justice can only bend it back slowly, if at all.

Same sex marriage, for example, is here to stay.  You have tens of thousand of married gay couples getting insurance, tax benefits, etc.  It’s just one of those toothpaste-y things that, once out, cannot be put back in the tube.

I also believe that abortion and Obamacare are pretty much that way as well.  Roe v Wade is established law, even among the conservatives and moderates on the Supreme Court.  Conservatives will try to chip away at it — they’ve been doing that for over 40 years, but the right to choose isn’t going to disappear over night.

And Obamacare?  They’ll get rid of parts of it, but not the things we like about it in the first place (like no pre-existing conditions).

And I suppose if you are an illegal alien who has committed a crime, your days are numbered… although that’s not a change AT ALL from the policies of the Obama Administration.

The presidency is one branch of government, and Trump is very malleable, especially when he is over his head.  He is not going to do drastic things, because he he’ll be stopped by Congress (yes, even a Republican one) and the Supreme Court.  Remember this: if the Trump Administration goes down in flames, the Republicans in charge of Congress who didn’t stop him go down with him.

Yes, I know he has Steve Bannon whispering in his ear, but he is one of many.  Trump’s appointment of Bannon to Chief Adviser (a meaningless title) doesn’t necessarily mean that alt-right will be the motivating ideology behind his presidency, but it cannot be ignored either. Besides, Bannon is about to learn the limitations of federal government. Bannon is an antisemantic white nationalist and hate monger, but what can he do?  Tell Trump to tell South Carolina to put up the confederate flag?  Most of the issues that Bannon cares about are moral issues (or, in his case, immoral issues) which can’t be legislated anyway even IF Congress goes along with him.  Which they won’t.

Again, I generally don’t have fears.  Just apprehensions.  We need to watch Bannon, watch Trump, and see what happens.

I expect the Trump presidency to be largely ineffective.  Why?  Because you have a very short time to move on big ideas.  Obamacare was the first thing Obama did right out of the box because there was only a short window to take advantage of his mandate in 2008.

Trump doesn’t even have a mandate and even if he did, he and his crew are going to spend that time walking the steep learning curve and making amateur mistakes.  Before anyone knows it, the 2018 midterms will be here.

There are really only two things that worry me:

(1)  Movement on climate change.  We cannot wait out four (and certainly not eight) years of doing nothing.  We are rapidly approaching the point of no return, assuming we haven’t passed it already.  My fervent hope is that Trump will take a look at it again. Again, he’s very malleable, and maybe someone can convince him that it is not a hoax.

(2)  Speaking of climate…. I fear the climate outside of D.C.  I’m talking about the Klan and the bigots and the assholes who think that, with a Trump presidency, their day has come.  It hasn’t, of course, and hopefully Trump will speak out (he muttered something just yesterday). He’s got to temper his rhetoric and not inflame the violent and racist side of his base.  In fact, he needs to come down on them.  I hope he can.

In the meantime, if anybody thinks it’s “okay” to be openly racist, we have to jump on that like fleas on a polecat.  Case in point:

Am I fearful of the Supreme Court balance?  I’m quite concerned. I hope the oldest on the Court can live another four years.  I hope Democrats in the Senate are able to block any terrible nominee, just as the Republicans blocked Garland.  But right NOW, all I have is apprehension.  I’m not ready to take to the streets over a theoretical nominee.

I wish everyone on the left would stop infighting and pointing fingers about the proper way to respond to Trump’s election.  I agree with some that symbolic safety pins are stupid, but I also think they are benign.  I also think that protests in the streets are stupid and maybe even counterproductive.  I understand it all though — people need to feel like they are DOING something.  Unfortunately, Trump hasn’t done much yet as President, so there’s little to react to.  This is a time to rest, to organize.  Because there may be a fight coming.

Right, Kate?