The only thing more shocking to me than Trump’s victory has been the violent reaction of the losing side. If there’s to be a silver lining, let it be this: the Left re-learns why small-r republican checks and balances are not anachronisms. Did you really think you’d never lose another election? Do you really believe History takes sides? It’s easy to be happy when your guy governs by executive order; a little terrifying when it’s not your guy.
Your political opponents have been warning about the erosion of separation of powers, executive overreach, and the administrative state for some time. I think you may soon regret Harry Reid’s nuking of the filibuster. [UPDATE: Kevin D. Williamson explains nicely in The Left will not enjoy living with its own precedents.]
I remember well how awful it felt when Bill Clinton won the presidency despite the fact that 57% of the country voted against him. I also remember how surprised I was when President Obama became the first (I think?) president to win re-election with a lower share of vote than in his first election. ’92 angered me, ’12 left me thinking the country was lost.
But the earth still spins on its axis, and enough Constitutional safeguards remain to prevent Mr. Trump’s worst instincts from being realized. (And, fwiw, plenty of Republican resistance to him.) President Trump cannot send a bill to the Supreme Court to overturn gay marriage. And since he’s a social liberal, he wouldn’t even if he could.
As for his position on illegal immigration, over & above his ugly rhetoric, and the bad elements brought out by same, there are serious concerns about that issue earnestly and deeply held by wide swaths of your fellow citizens. You on the Left like to elide the distinction between legal and illegal immigration, and you underestimate the jihadist threat.
If you truly believe half of your fellow Americans are monsters, maybe you are part of the problem. Maybe, just maybe, the situation is more nuanced that you think. Maybe, just maybe, you should form your opinions on something more than internet memes, late night comedy, and a handful of sites/authors/friends who simply confirm your own self-congratulatory biases.
Not for nothin’ but you’d be well-served to learn how to take a loss. Next cycle the math for incumbent senators seeking re-election looks bad for you: the number of GOP incumbents running in states in which Hillary won = 1; the number of DEM incumbents running in states in which Donald won = 10. Don’t be surprised if those 10 DEMs find a way to be bi-partisan with the new president.
In an effort to help my friends on the Left, some of whom now say they can no longer be my friend because I voted against Mrs. Clinton, I offer the following 4 reasons why your side lost this time. If you stop looking at everything through the prism of identity politics (race/class/gender), it’s not hard to understand.
I. You nominated a truly terrible candidate
She represents the status quo and 2016 was a change election. While President Obama is personally popular, his policies are not and the “wrong track” number is high.
She has poor campaigning skills and a tin ear. Her popularity fell the more she was seen. She hid from the press. When she did appear she oozed disdain (and hatred ?) for the half of the country that disagrees with her.
II. Brexit winds were blowing
Globalization has dislocated many voters and they’re tapping the brakes. Related: jihadists declared war on the West in 1979 (and several times since) and our elites have their heads in the sand.
It’s been said that you can choose any 2 out of the following 3 things and still have a nation: open borders, generous welfare, multiculturalism. Transnational progressives push for all three and sneer at those who raise legitimate concerns about the pace and breadth of change.
Your efforts to push the Overton Window ever leftward invite a backlash. If the legitimate concerns of voters are denied a fair hearing and a legitimate outlet, they will seek an illegitimate one.
III. The secular left has taken a creepy totalitarian turn
With the exception of the 2nd Amendment, and maybe some modest pro-life movement in public opinion, the Left has won the culture wars. But they’ve taken to roaming the battlefield looking to bayonet the wounded. If your movement has a reputation for giving no quarter, you should not be surprised when you encounter fierce self-defense.
- It’s not enough that abortion is available – nuns must be forced to pay for them.
- It’s not enough that gay marriage be legal – dissenters must be forced to immediately and publicly recant the deeply held religious views that were widely shared and commonly accepted up until 5 minutes ago.
- It’s not enough that transsexuals be tolerated – dissenters’ children must be forced to share bathrooms with them.
Now that you are the establishment and your opponents the counter-culture, dissent is no longer the highest form of patriotism – it’s thoughtcrime. You are now the puritans. The group-think bubbles you’ve created on campuses and in the entertainment & media industries have turned you into aggressive bullies, out of touch and nasty. Swing voters tend to reject bullies, whether they be Christian fundamentalists or you.
IV. Your candidate is a criminal
Yes, a C-R-I-M-I-N-A-L. High crimes and misdemeanors, worse than Nixon. That you can’t see this, or refuse to acknowledge it, suggests that you’re OK with criminality as long as it gets you the policy outcomes you desire. That is not a good look for a movement.
Consider: Wilson and LBJ were overt racists, and the nation survived; JFK and Bill Clinton had appalling views about women, and the nation survived; Nixon was a criminal and the nation just barely dodged a Constitutional crisis. It is not unreasonable for some to conclude that she is more corrupt than he is vile (which is saying something!), and to choose the less unfit candidate.
And now, if you’re still interested, a compendium of blurbs from smarter people than me:
Matthew Continetti summarizes, in non-pejorative fashion, what he thinks Trump campaigned on. Read this message with fresh eyes, forgetting the messenger, and tell me if you can’t understand the appeal to half the country:
Building the wall, negotiating trade deals that benefit workers rather than corporations, bringing law and order to communities ravaged by drugs and gangs, replacing Obamacare, reversing anti-coal and anti-carbon-energy regulations, aid to veterans, replacing Antonin Scalia with a conservative judge, boosting wages through tax reform and tight labor markets, and avoiding another war were ingredients of the policy mix that brought Trump victory in states Republican presidential candidates have not won in decades. Trump called forth the Reagan Democrats who clearly had not been motivated by the pro-business, internationalist, religiously tinged conservatism of the Bushes, Dole, McCain, and Romney, and united the solid South with the Great Lakes states…
His call for a foreign policy that put American interests above all, rather than in the service of maintaining a liberal world order or pursuing humanitarian ideals, might not have been received kindly in Washington and other capitals. But it was cheered on in rural areas in the Rust Belt and more pacific regions of the country, such as Iowa, where Trump won by 10 points. Wilson in ’16, Roosevelt in ’40, Eisenhower in ’52, Nixon in ’68, Bush in 2000, Obama in ’08 — the peace candidate tends to win even if he does not bring peace in the end.
The editors of the WSJ put it this way:
Too many liberals, and some conservatives, simply cannot imagine how great numbers of Americans think and perceive their own interests. Thus wrong opinions must be the result of cognitive limitations or character flaws. Mrs. Clinton called Trump supporters “deplorables,” “irredeemable” and “not America,” as if there could be no other explanation.
These failures of empathy are also a staple of Mr. Obama’s rhetoric, with his moral lectures about who we are as Americans and the arc of history always bending toward—well, his point of view. For the President, and most prominent Democrats these days, opponents who debate policies and principles never do so in good faith…
For eight long years Mr. Obama’s belief that he holds the mandate of heaven has guided how he has used and abused presidential power. He was elected in 2008 on a message of hope and centrist unity, but he was soon ramming through 40 years of pent-up progressive priorities. Recall his famous 2009 brush-off of Republican Eric Cantor, who had proposed some bipartisan ideas for the stimulus: “Eric, I won.”
Democrats imposed ObamaCare on a straight partisan majority, though the polls showed there was no political consensus about a new entitlement among the oft-invoked, rarely consulted American people. National health care is no more popular today and is now misfiring in all the ways the critics predicted. The GOP was frozen out of all major economic decisions in 2009-10, and one price was the weak recovery that persists to this day.
Democrats did have a historic supermajority, but that wasn’t a mandate to do whatever they could get away with, and they lost a record 63 House seats in the midterms as punishment. Mr. Obama then feinted toward a grand bargain with John Boehner, only to ambush the then Speaker with politically impossible tax-increase demands at the 11th hour.
The President won re-election in 2012 by converting a decent man like Mitt Romney into a monster who would prosecute a “war on women.” He also weaponized identity politics to polarize voters for his own purposes.
In his second term, Mr. Obama adopted his “pen and phone” strategy of executive rule to bypass Congress and avoid accountability. He unleashed the EPA to impose carbon cap and trade without basis in law. The Education Department rewrote Title IX to erode due process on campus. The Paris climate deal and Iran nuclear accord should have been submitted to the Senate as treaties for ratification.
Some of these gambits have been checked by the courts, and the left will learn that what’s done through regulation can be undone through new regulation. But liberals have also “normalized” such abuses, to borrow a now-popular phrase among progressives. Supposedly when Congress refuses to pass bills that the President desires, he has the power to achieve his aims by himself. That isn’t how U.S. democracy works, and it inevitably created its political counter-reaction in the form of Mr. Trump.
Jonah Goldberg writes that Obama helped to pave the way for Trump:
Liberals want to claim that racism explains it all. That’s a hard claim to square with the fact that a great many of the blue-collar counties that favored Barack Obama — the first black president, in case you hadn’t heard — by double digits also favored Trump by double digits.
The fact that so many liberals went straight to this explanation gives you a sense of why the Democrats lost the white working class in the first place. The Democratic party went crazy for issues that appeal to the new Democratic base: campus leftists, affluent cosmopolitan whites, and racial minorities.
One obvious example is diversity. There’s nothing wrong with placing a high value on racial, sexual, and gender inclusion. But Democrats have earned the reputation of being obsessed with it to the exclusion of bread-and-butter issues.
Moreover, by constantly invoking the primacy of identity politics for minorities and immigrants, they encouraged many whites to see themselves as an aggrieved racial or religious constituency. That genie will be hard to get back into the bottle.
The same goes for the environment. When Clinton boasted that her energy plan was going to “put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” you could almost hear FDR, Truman, and LBJ (and poor Joe Biden) smacking their foreheads in disbelief. This isn’t a point about what the right policy is; it’s solely about politics. Democrats used to be the party that fought for the little guy.
Obama’s ace in the hole was always his charisma. His Achilles’ heel was its non-transferability.
Elsewhere Goldberg adds
Last week I wrote, “Long ago, I made peace with the fact that this election will yield one form of ass ache or another.”
So, I fully expected to wake up the day after the election depressed and walking like the proctologist refused to take off the catcher’s mitt. Instead, to my gleeful surprise and my detractors’ apparent dyspeptic dismay, I’m in a great mood.
When I took out my laptop this morning to peck out my epistolary musings, it was like the sound track to Born Free was playing in the background.
Part of it is, obviously, the unbridled joy I feel at seeing the fetid carapace of House Clinton torn down. To have the country say to these conniving mercenaries “Pack your knives and go” will have me whistling zippity-doo-dah out of my nethers for a very long time. I always wanted Hillary to lose (and my predictions about her electoral vulnerabilities were, if I do say so myself, exactly right). I was just discomfited by the ramification of Trump winning.
Goldberg goes on to compare Trump’s rhetorical nonsense to Obama’s:
But now they have to lead their own herd of shiny unicorns into the light of day. For example, Trump vowed that, if elected, he would make “make every dream you ever dreamed for your country come true.”
Now, if you know anything — anything! — about conservatism, or human nature, or just plain reality, then you know in your heart this is balderdash of the highest order. It’s a less poetic version of Obama’s crazy talk about reversing the rise of the oceans because “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”
As I’ve been writing for years and years, politics can’t immanentize the eschaton any more than basset hounds can fly or Bill Clinton’s gaze can resist the tractor-beam pull of a nice rack.
Utopianism says there are no hard choices, no sacrifices, no compromises. All your dreams — all of them! — can come true. Populism, to paraphrase Bart Simpson, says if you think there are no easy answers you’re not looking hard enough…
I still worry deeply and sincerely about the future of the country and the conservative movement on Trump’s watch, for all the reasons I’ve been spelling out for over a year. The GOP is having a historic political revival, but the conservative movement is heading into a crisis.
He then proactively reminds some of his fellow republicans:
They own Trump. I don’t. Never Trump is over — by definition. Saying you were “Never Trump” only ever meant that you wouldn’t vote for him or endorse him. We didn’t. He won anyway. Congrats. But now those of us who held the line are liberated. I will gladly and enthusiastically applaud when and if Trump does the right thing on judges, taxes, spending, etc. If he proves my predictions wrong, I will admit it or, on occasion, say, “Give it time.” I’ve constantly said that my job is to tell the truth as I see it. I did that during the election, and I’ll keep doing it going forward. When I’m wrong about Trump, I’ll be right about my ideology. And when I’m right about Trump, I’ll be able to say, “I told you so.”
You can’t say the same about the ranch hands who’ve promised to help bring in the unicorn herd. In fact, I actually feel a little sorry for the Bannon crowd. Not only will they be deprived of their TV network, they will have to wake up every morning wondering, “What is this guy going to make me defend today?” The first wave of disappointment will probably explode like a toxic algae bloom among the alt-right racists (particularly if Trump makes his Jewish son-in-law chief of staff). I suspect the avowed “nationalists” will wait a while longer to see what Trump does on immigration. I am more hopeful that the pro-tax-reform crowd won’t be so disappointed, but time will tell. But whichever tribe of Trump Nation we’re talking about, my guess is that their glee is likely to have an inverse relationship with Trump’s approval ratings in early 2017 and beyond. Trump’s bottomless yearning for praise and popularity (and, possibly once he’s president, good press in the mainstream media) will likely triumph in any contest with ideological rigor. We can already see that in his entirely laudable cooperation and praise for Obama yesterday…
A huge number of voters said they were holding their noses and voting for Trump because they couldn’t stand Hillary. Politically, this could be a real advantage for Trump, because it suggests that if he actually governs as a relatively “normal” president with an eye to his approval ratings, voters will be reassured. The fears and low expectations of the American people give him maneuvering room.
Trent Lapinski asks, “Did you read Wikileaks? You should have.”
The “conspiracies” were true, and the mainstream media lied to you to about everything.
Wikileaks was not Russian propaganda, it was the news.
Wikileaks has a 10-year record of never releasing a single falsified document, and is not connected to Russia. Everything they released were the actual e-mails of Hillary Clinton and her campaign staff. You had the opportunity to look through a window into the Hillary Clinton campaign, but you didn’t.
By ignoring the leaks, you ignored reality.
By not listening to your fellow Americans, and accusing them of being “conspiracy theorists” and trusting the corporate media, you ignored reality. By only following other liberals on social media, and only reading liberal or corporate news, once again ignoring reality. When Hillary Clinton was caught rigging the primary against Bernie Sanders, and Democrats nominated her anyway they ignored reality.
Everyone was simply insulating themselves within their own echo chamber ignoring anything outside their bubble.
Kimberley Strassel reminds the GOP to not get cocky:
This isn’t to take away from Mr. Trump’s supporters, or his message. But the numbers above are a reaction to Democratic failure—to a president who rammed through unpopular legislation and governed via executive order and extralegal regulation. Tuesday’s results are a response to a government that targeted conservative nonprofits, left veterans on waiting lists, botched a health website and left the world to burn. “My legacy is on the ballot,” Mr. Obama said in September, in what was the truest statement of the campaign.
Let’s not be chintzy: There’s plenty of Democratic blame to go around. Mrs. Clinton could have run a “change” campaign and moved her party back toward the centrism that earned Bill Clinton all those white, working-class voters. She instead catered to the progressive left. One exit poll shows Mrs. Clinton won union households by 2 percentage points, when Mr. Obama carried them by 18. Of the 207 swing counties that went for Mr. Obama only once (in 2008 or 2012), Mr. Trump won 194. This is an utter abandonment of the Democratic Party that Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton led.
It’s also an extraordinary grant of power to Republicans. They’d be wise to immediately understand that they now own the results. Voters are giving the GOP one chance to deliver on the change it has promised, and the party can’t afford easy mistakes…
The other obvious risk is that Mr. Trump might try to fix all of the Obama mess, all at once. That’s a recipe for a muddle. Republicans could do nothing smarter in the coming weeks than agree to prioritize a few sweeping, key initiatives—say, health care and tax reform—that would immediately boost the economy. Earning public trust with big, early victories will buy time for more reform down the road.
Republicans have been elected as the anti-Obamas. Which means they’ve been elected to make things better. If they can remember that, they have a shot.
David Harsanyi emphasizes that if you need just one explanation, it is that half the country thinks Clinton is even more unfit than Trump.
I recently visited my middle-/working-class hometown in suburban New York. Not exactly Factoryville, Ohio, or rural Mississippi, it was still more typical of the average American life than many people realize. It’s a place where families, though not destitute, often struggle with excessive property taxes, mortgage payments, subpar schools, and rising health-care bills.
None of the Trump voters who surrounded me — most of whom I’d consider moderate Republicans — argued that the GOP nominee is an exemplary person or that he was an optimal candidate for the presidency. Their support had nothing to do with white patriarchal supremacy or any of the ugly themes that preoccupy the progressive Left (and now the entire Democratic party).
Certainly, none of these voters cared for the reasons I was opposing a Trump presidency, either — which, broadly speaking, would be the preservation of constitutional processes and the expansion of free trade. The consensus solidified around one thought: Clinton was worse. A lot worse. She was a corrupt, power-hungry, would-be dictator who needed to be kept out of the White House.
Because they were so convinced Trump was going to win, I sort of felt sorry when anticipating their disappointment — not only because I personally disliked many of Trump’s positions and the thought of one-party rule but also because nothing I read or saw from the experts pointed to a GOP victory. The joke, of course, was on me.
Kevin D. Williamson echoes Harsanyi:
We conservatives do not think very much of Donald Trump either, and many of us expect to think less of him the more we get to know him. His election may very well prove to be the equivalent of using a neutron bomb to clear out a cockroach infestation, or a ball-peen hammer to remove an achy tooth — but what a human toothache we had in Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Rich Lowry writes that “against all expectations, voters gave the President a stunning message of discontent.”
What happened? From the beginning, President Obama pushed the leftmost plausible agenda without regard to political consequences. His signature initiative, Obamacare, was forced through Congress despite its manifest unpopularity and with the crucial assistance of obvious falsehoods. When Obama’s initial legislative overreach cost him his congressional majorities, he proceeded with executive overreach, especially on environmental regulation and immigration.
Having made no real effort at party-building and after a series of disastrous midterms where his campaigning basically saved no one, he had no protege available to try to win his third term. He had to reach back to his vanquished rival, Hillary Clinton, whose inadequacies he had exposed in the 2008 primaries and who was almost comically ill-suited to energize the Obama coalition.
Those voters were considered Obama’s enduring political contribution — an ever-growing bloc of minorities, millennials, and the college-educated who would constitute an ideological ratchet, turning the country’s politics steadily to the left.
In its first big post-Obama test, the coalition failed. Now many of the president’s substantive achievements are under threat, especially Obamacare, which is in a semicrisis, and his vast number of unilateral actions. President Trump will soon pick up his own pen and phone.
President Obama’s party is lurching toward a bloodletting after losing to perhaps the least likely presidential candidate in all of American history.
Nothing is permanent in politics, and victories often carry the seeds of future defeats. But elections are always clarifying. We now know that President Obama’s larger project has come a cropper. He is no Ronald Reagan, not even close.
Victor Davis Hanson writes that our “non-elite elite” are biased and incompetent:
Biased and incompetent elites polluted the 2016 election, and they are getting what they deserved. There were a lot of losers in this election, well beyond Hillary Clinton and the smug, incompetent pollsters and know-it-all, groupthink pundits who embarrassed themselves. From hacked e-mail troves we received a glimpse of the bankrupt values of Washington journalists, lawyers, politicians, lobbyists, and wealthy donors. Despite their brand-name Ivy League degrees and 1 percenter résumés, dozens of the highly paid grandees who run our country and shape our news appear petty and spiteful — and clueless about the America that exists beyond their Beltway habitat.
Hannah Bleau at “Chicks on the Right” writes with a little more defiant and celebratory verve:
We’re not racist. We’re not sexist. We want people to come into this country legally. That’s not racist. Progressive leadership in the big, urban cities hasn’t pulled the black community out of poverty. It’s worsened it. Liberalism has failed them. We acknowledge that. We want them to prosper. That’s not racist. And as for being sexist? All issues are women’s issues. I have no idea why liberals continue to separate them. Do they really believe we only care about vaginas, boobs and killing our offspring? Liberals assumed we (women) would vote for Hillary based on those reasons alone. THAT’S sexist, if you ask me. Women care about the economy. We care about national security. We care about the almost $20 trillion national debt. We care about the erosion of our freedoms. We care about the future of the Supreme Court. The list goes on and on and on.
I also saw some posts on how Trump’s victory signifies that America hates the LGBT community. NEWSFLASH: We elected a man who wants to keep dangerous anti-LGBT ideologues OUT OF OUR COUNTRY. Those people who want to throw them off rooftops? We don’t want them here. We want to protect the LGBT community. The fact that we stand for traditional family values and don’t want men in the women’s bathroom doesn’t take anything away from that. Not for one second…
This was about individual liberty. We reject government force and coercion. Votes. Favors. Political power. That’s the cycle of every progressive politician. We’re done. We’re sick of it.
Another part of Ronald Reagan’s 1964 speech, “A Time For Choosing,” comes to mind.
“Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, “What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power.” But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.”
“Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we’re denounced as being opposed to their humanitarian goals. It seems impossible to legitimately debate their solutions with the assumption that all of us share the desire to help the less fortunate. They tell us we’re always ‘against,’ never ‘for’ anything.”
But we are. We’re for economic prosperity. Individual responsibility. Fiscal responsibility. Less government. More freedom. We’re sick of the liberal do-gooders shoving their BS agenda down our throats and calling us bigots when we reject their horrid ideas. We’re sick of them scoffing at the principles of liberty.
Donald Trump is America’s middle finger to the media, Hollywood elites, progressive ideologues and everyone else in the world who hates our guts.