Possibly the most absurd, shocking, and entertaining election in American history is finally over, and, God help us, Donald J. Trump will be the 45th President of the United States with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate. I’ve long said that it’s only a matter of time before a reality television star makes their way to the White House, but I never expected it this soon.
With that said, perhaps I should start by pointing out the wrong predictions I made during this election cycle. In February I wrote a blog discussing the wrong predictions I had made up to that point and then making a few new predictions going forward. I wrote, “I think Hillary will be elected President, but that her victory will be far narrower than either of Obama’s victories.” Early on Tuesday, I put out a map showing how I thought the election would go at that point and had clearly repudiated the “far narrower” portion of my previous prediction from months earlier because I gave Hillary a healthy win over Trump.
So it would not be unfair to say that nearly every prediction I made during the election cycle was ultimately wrong, aside from correctly predicting that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic Party nominee and Gary Johnson would be the Libertarian Party nominee. I point this out because everyone should be held accountable for what they say, and because I find it far more interesting to be wrong and surprised than to be bored and proven right. I certainly had much more fun watching Trump defy all of my expectations on Tuesday than I did watching Obama trounce McCain and Romney in 2008 and 2012 as we all knew he would.
The best part of the election is the fact that Hillary Clinton has now been repudiated twice and will almost certainly never be President. To see somebody who believes so sincerely that they deserve to be given unimaginable power over other people’s lives and that they can do whatever they want with no consequences be so utterly rejected is deeply satisfying. The only downside in this particular case is that the person she was rejected in favor of has a similar, if not identical, sense of self-importance and ego.
The absurd response of Clinton supporters in the wake of her fantastic loss has also been fun to watch, with my favorite coming from Virginia Heffernen writing at Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter.
Hillary Clinton did everything right in this campaign, and she won more votes than her opponent did. She won. She cannot be faulted, criticized, or analyzed for even one more second. Instead, she will be decorated as an epochal heroine far too extraordinary to be contained by the mere White House.
This deification of perhaps the most corrupt person to ever run for President is one of the most absurd things ever written, and that’s not to mention the factual errors in that paragraph alone. Hillary Clinton did not win because she received more votes than Donald Trump as a whole because the presidency is not decided on the basis of the popular vote and never has been. The electoral college was established in the U.S. Constitution and has decided every presidential contest since George Washington’s first term. Article 2, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution states:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The popular vote is completely irrelevant and is nothing more than a sideshow for pundits to discuss and sore losers to whine about. As for Clinton not being able to be faulted, journalist Michael Tracey pretty much destroys that argument in a single tweet.
I’d say any progressive who can’t find fault with Hillary, indeed, who isn’t incensed at Hillary, for not campaigning in Wisconsin was never serious about keeping Donald Trump out of the White House in the first place.
And no, Hillary Clinton will not be “decorated as an epochal heroine far too extraordinary to be contained by the mere White House.” She will be nothing more than a footnote when history textbooks discuss the presidencies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump.
There is a segment of progressives out there, however, who rather than being absurd and making spectacles of themselves are genuinely frightened about what Trump and Pence will do now that they’ve been elected because they see Trump as a historic aberration who has an entirely backward view of America. The problem with this view is that everything they’re worried Trump is going to do is already being done. Is Trump going to abuse the civil rights of Muslims? Well, Barack Obama has been doing that for years around the globe by indiscriminately killing them via drone strikes. As Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, progressives have themselves to thank for the things that Donald Trump and Mike Pence will be able to do in office as much as anyone because they refused to hold their own elected officials accountable for doing them.
The fact that Trump is not an aberration is exactly the worst quality about him. He will pick up the most horrifying powers of the presidency and gleefully abuse them. Perhaps the scariest thing about Trump is how easily he’s ingratiating himself with an establishment utterly at peace with the powers that he, and they, will be wielding. Trump is surrounding himself with Republican Party establishment / neoconservative hacks, as evidenced by his appointing Reince Priebus his Chief of Staff, Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, and his flirtation with Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton, and now Mitt Romney for Secretary of State. Trump’s campaign was in large part a repudiation of these people and their policies, and Trump himself seemed to take great pleasure in humiliating them at every turn. Now he seems determined to allow these people to run his administration.
Furthermore, while my biggest concern with a Hillary Clinton presidency was how she was using neo-McCarthyist rhetoric to destroy any chance of diplomacy with Russia, even going so far as to threaten war with Russia over unproven allegations of the Russian government hacking the DNC and Hillary’s own campaign, it’s not as if Trump is that much better on foreign policy in general. His rhetoric towards Russia has been almost exactly what you’d want to hear, though appointing Romney as Secretary of State, who said during his 2012 presidential run that Russia was our number one geopolitical foe, would certainly put a damper on that. It’s what Trump has said regarding China, another rising power, that should have us all concerned.
His protectionist rhetoric and claims of “cheating” and “currency manipulation” toward China are bad enough, especially considering that the U.S. currently relies on China to manipulate its currency to buy our debt, but if he holds to his claim of holding China responsible for the actions of North Korea, which are themselves largely a response to the U.S. military presence and “war games” near the Korean Demilitarized Zone, it will make the necessary diplomacy very difficult.
Ideally, the Office of the President would be so restrained that even if the worst person in the world were elected they really wouldn’t be able to do very much, but that is not the reality. The U.S. has elected one of the most egotistical con-men to have ever lived to a position where he can spy on anyone in the world, kill anyone in the world, and essentially do whatever he wants at any time. The crime is that a position with that kind of power exists in the first place, but it is frustrating that no matter what horrible things the president does Americans continually allow them to gain more and more power. Donald Trump will be no different; he will normalize and extend the powers which have already been exercised while creating new precedents for future presidents to abuse the world with. That has been America’s imperial legacy for at least the last century and will continue to be until the money runs out. I say the sooner the better.