Some thoughts on Tuesday’s shocking results…
The Election Was a Nearly Complete Disaster for the Democratic Party
It wasn’t just the fact that the Democrats lost the presidency. They also didn’t regain control of the Senate, which was a very real possibility, or regain the House, which was unlikely to happen anyway. This means that President Trump’s agenda can have the support of both houses of Congress, and most of Paul Ryan’s and Mitch McConnell’s policies will have the support of the presidency. The Democrats can still filibuster, but they won’t be able to lead any committees or set the agenda for either of the houses.
What This Says About America
There is a lot of talk about how this election proves that America is an irredeemably racist, sexist wasteland. I can’t disagree that parts of it are (and neither would anybody who has received or even seen alt-right troll posts on twitter), but remember that this election was very close. One percent of people switching from Trump to Clinton would have resulted in her winning the election. We would have then seen a flood of thinkpieces about how much the country is better off now that we’ve finally elected a female president.
One percent of voters may be able to change the future of the country’s policies, but I don’t think that their actions should make a difference regarding whether you should be ashamed of your entire country or proud of it. Whoever won the election, we know that there are deep divisions between Americans. Whatever you think may think of the people who voted for any of the candidates (and those that didn’t vote), there were millions of them before Election Night and there still those same millions today. This election has not changed the character of the country’s populace overnight.
Bernie Might Have Won. Or Not.
Ever since the election, some people are arguing that Bernie Sanders would have beaten Donald Trump, while others insist he would have lost too. Sanders did generate enthusiasm at his rallies, had higher favorability ratings, and was projected to do better against Trump in hypothetical polling. In theory, he could have reduced the loss of voters from Obama’s run in 2012 as well as blunted Trump’s right-wing populist appeal with a left-wing populist appeal of his own, considering the fact that he beat Clinton in both Michigan and Wisconsin.
Unfortunately, the difference between Trump’s populism and Sanders’ in the primaries was that Trump got his supporters to actually vote, while Sanders didn’t. Clinton won the 2016 nomination easily despite getting less votes than she did when she lost to Obama in 2008. And despite Sanders winning Wisconsin and Michigan in the primaries, winning them both would in the general still leads to a Trump win because he flipped Pennsylvania, which went for Clinton in the primaries. There’s also the question about how Middle America would vote for a “socialist” (which he technically isn’t, but anyway…). Then again, I didn’t think 82% of evangelicals would vote for a twice divorced, crude, supremely egotistical New Yorker who has espoused very social liberal views all the way up until a few years ago, but here we are.
Where Do We Go From Here?
It looks bleak for Democrats right now. The House is gone, the Senate is gone, the presidency is gone, and the Supreme Court may be lost for a generation. And the 2018 midterms, where turnout is generally lower and older (and therefore skews Republican), will have 23 seats, plus the two independent senators that caucus with them, up for grabs, compared on only 8 for the Republicans. There is a real potential for Republicans gaining a supermajority in the Senate.
You cannot wait four years for the next presidential election in order to change things. Again, the midterms in two years are vital. State and local elections, where the Democrats have been getting their asses kicked the last eight years, need more liberal voters to go out and vote. Two states, New Jersey and Virginia will have governor and legislature elections in 2017, so you have to go out and vote in a year if you live there. Getting state governments allows you to stop letting the Republicans gerrymander after the new census comes out. (And letting them gerrymander instead, of course. It would be nice if they Democrats would get rid of gerrymandering by mandating nonpartisan committees redraw the lines, but that isn’t going to happen). If the Democrats want to start winning elections again, they need to get their voters to go vote in every election, presidential or not.