In our Oct. 5,2016 post THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME we declared “Trump can only win with 65% of the white vote of a greater white turnout. He might get this last great white hurrah but what then?” Turns out we were wrong. All he needed to claim victory was approximately the same number of votes as Romney in 2012 according to MIC.com. It’s early so this may change but assuming it’s close to the truth, this is stunning. How was this possible? The Democratic vote was discouraged. They simply didn’t show up. Why? First of all Hillary Clinton was a bad candidate. Our ALL IN THE PLAN? post of April 27,2015 suggested that Hillary’s potential legal problems would lead her to being replaced with Joe Biden. Democrats would probably be a lot happier today if they had gone in that direction. But she was such a weak flawed candidate she had big trouble putting away a 75-year-old socialist. This meant it would be hard to replace Hillary with Biden over the claims of the runner-up. Instead,we got FBI Chief James Comey declining to recommend prosecution while telling the world she was a liar and irresponsible. Not what you’d want to hear about a presidential candidate. Still, she consistently ran ahead of Trump except for right after the Republican Convention in the Real Clear Politics Poll of Polls. Now lately polling hasn’t covered the profession with glory, but nothing showed a big increase in Republican votes and indeed their vote came out pretty much the same as 2012. However, the democratic vote apparently dropped by over 5 million. This appears to have occurred in the three weeks before the election. A few things could account for the diminished democratic enthusiasm. Obama care’s large premium increases coming at this time might have influenced voters but this would’ve increased the Republican total while diminishing Pres.Obama’s popularity. Neither of which occurred.
The answers are found elsewhere. First WikiLeaks constantly airing scads purloined emails showing Hillary and Democrats in a bad light. It seemed as if there were new ones everyday creating a constant negative narrative in the media. The scary part of this is the fact Russia was behind the hacking of the emails according to 17 federal intelligence agencies. While some media outlets mentioned this after they aired the emails, some never did. The source of the emails should have prefaced any mention such as “Russian hacked emails released today by WikiLeaks said…” Unfortunately this almost never happened. Apparent Russian interference in a Presidential election decided by a razor-thin margin, wasn’t as horrifying to others as it was to us. However,as this sinks in, it could well undermine the legitimacy of the Trump Presidency. After all, it’s hard to overlook the fact only 112,000 votes in three key flipped states, Wisconsin, Michigan & Pennsylvania, cost Clinton the election and not think Russian-WikiLeaks releases accounted for at least this much and more.
Against this background of the incessant email releases, FBI Chief James Comey against all protocols saw fit to send his vague letter to Congressional leaders about newly discovered significant emails 11 days before the election. Of course, people assumed something major found was against Hillary if he did this so close to the election. While this heavy weight hovered over her, prominent Fox News Anchor Bret Baier announced he had good sources telling him she was facing indictment. Given Baier is a respected journalist,the report went viral. You couldn’t turn on talk radio, check the web or social media without it being front and center. Liberal media might have missed how big this was because these aren’t the sources they usually follow but an awful lot of people do. It energized those leaning Trump while turning wavering Republicans and Independents away from Hillary. They began to conclude Trump may be bad but at least we wouldn’t have a President facing criminal charges. Could anyone be blamed for feeling this way? This all meant the media was dominated by negative stories on Hillary while driving off Trunp’s negative ones. .Donald couldn’t have wished for more..
The only thing wrong with both these bombshells,there was no substance to them. On Sunday 2 days before the election, Comey sent another letter saying they found nothing. This came after Baier was found making a relatively quiet apology for his erroneous report. Both men owned up to their errors but only days before the election. After still hearing people even today saying they couldn’t vote for someone facing “indictment”(only Baier used this term), we conclude this was hardly enough time to right these wrongs before the election. Remember as Jonathan Swift said, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” You just can’t unring a bell.
At this moment Hillary Clinton is winning the popular vote, so over half of the population is feeling down. As readers are well aware we didn’t favor either candidate, but we can sympathize with these voters feeling ill-treated. Getting hammered by the Russians, the FBI Chief and a major cable anchor days just before an election isn’t going to make a Trump Presidency more acceptable or legitimate to this majority. Being “Moscow’s Man” is hardly a great place start a new administration.
After the first few days of Gumbaya (maybe not even that given protests in 25 cities), the reality of an unpopular President a majority of Americans refused to vote for but whose party controls everything will sink in. What will he do? Most Presidents come in with governing philosophy and a program. With Trump we’re not sure. Will he really try to enact his divisive first 100 day program? Maybe he’ll bury the hatchet and unite behind speaker Paul Ryan’s “A Better Way” program. Or he cold lean toward Minority leader Nancy Pelosi and start with a “Huge” jobs (infrastructure) program, the Obama Stimulus on steroids, and subsidies for child care. Or he could freelance. Trump has had so many positions it’s hard to even guess. One thing is certain, he can’t get too far from his base that is the source of his power. If he moves to conciliation and inclusiveness he risks being seen as just another politician or a monumental fraud enraging his followers. Without them he would be just a rubber stamp for Congressional Leaders. With them he can continue to threaten retribution against any Republican. Because of this we don’t see Trump changing what got him here. It would be political suicide.
This is the Republican conundrum, they may get somethings such as a Supreme Court Justice, tax cuts and a Obamacare repeal but with Trump it may be impossible to widen their base for the future. It’s doubtful the same number of votes will win in 2020. He might even prove to be more of a progressive than they guessed. How long before conservatives head for or are pushed out the door. Without hatred of Hillary to unite Trump and conservatives the animosity is likely to reemerge. Right from the start, the national security wing of the party has to be aghast we have a President in no small measure owing the Russians for his victory. Only if one side or the other does a 180 on their principles can they continue to coexist.The question is,have the Republicans made a Faustian bargain? Some success today at the cost of their future.
Democrats woke up after the election forced to face the realization Obama was a disaster for their party. While personally winning two presidential elections, his two terms disseminated the party at every elective level. For 2016, Democrats had the unappealing choice between a failed governor (Martin O’Malley), a 75-year-old socialist (Bernie Sanders) and failed Presidential Primary candidate with more baggage than a cruise terminal.(Clinton). How could their bench be so empty? Simply by losing at every governmental level when Obama wasn’t on the ballot. The Governor’s Mansions and the Senate are the usual farm clubs for Presidential Candidates but with the Republicans achieving their majorities at every level, the young Democrats never got started. Even now, can anyone name even three likely Democratic 2020 Presidential candidates. Only two women come to mind, Elisabeth Warren and Michele Obama. Interesting, but each would have their problems, Warren too far left and Obama too soon. For them or anyone else to have chance, the party machinery has to be totally rebuilt. Their vaunted “get out the vote plan” proved to be a paper tiger without Barrack on the ballot. They need a DNC chairman similar to Reince Priebus for nuts and bolts but with a better sense of “Institutional Image” he so sorely lacked.(see A Tale of Two CEOs: Stumpf & Priebus) On paper the Democrats should have a wealth of bright diverse young potential candidates for political office.Someone has to find and back them. Just as important, they need to become a party of ideas. Rather than just offering freebies and fighting culture wars,some real solutions to our problems could go a long way to restoring the public’s faith in Democrats.
All this again points out how much we need more and better choices. We think most people now realize the present Republican-Democrat duopoly has failed us and needs competition so we can get a 2020 Presidential candidate that doesn’t make most of us sick to our stomachs.