Friday, November 11, 2016

Electoral College, Donald Trump, and Cooler Heads

Okay, so Trump won the Electoral College. Some people have placed the blame on third-party candidates. Others have said that the onus was Hillary for her “basket of deplorables” remark, and for not giving white, blue-collar workers enough attention during her campaign. Still others maintain that Hillary was the wrong candidate, that Bernie would have won, and the DNC is to blame for rigging the primaries.

Whatever.

The point is, like it or not (and I don’t, not even a little bit), the demented candy corn is our President-elect. And the Democrats did not do anywhere near as well as everybody expected -- everybody, that is, except Kelly Anne Conway, who apparently knows a thing or two. As a result, the Republicans control all three branches of government. Yes, the Republican majority in the Senate slipped from 54 to 51, and the House slipped from 246 to 239, but they are majorities all the same ... and since they also have the White House, the needs for a veto-proof majority is lessened dramatically.

Add to this the fact that there is still an open seat on the Supreme Court (that Senate Republicans refused to fill), and there will likely be three more in the next couple of years ... well, I think it’s safe to say that the progressive agenda is thoroughly fucked for a while. So what do we do about it?

1) The Electoral College

There has been some agitation, to the point of protests in the streets (in Philadelphia PA, Richmond VA, and other places) calling on the Electoral College to overturn the results of the election and vote in Hillary Clinton. And yes, while Clinton did win more of the popular vote than did Trump (60,274,974 to 59,937,338), the difference is only 337,636 votes ... or 0.28%. In statistical terms, a tie -- that 0.28% is small enough to be considered within the margin of error for some.

There is also the “slippery slope” question: do we really want the Electoral College to override the results of the election, simply because we didn’t get the result we wanted? Or, to put it another way, if all the vote totals had been reversed, and it was Trump supporters demonstrating in the streets, would we be as willing to accept this suggestion?

My answer is no, we would not.

Face it, folks. We lost. Whether it was a poorly run campaign, or intentional rigging of the primaries by the DNC, or Russian hackers, or just plain hubris in assuming that Clinton would walk away with this thing, the fact of the matter is:

We lost.

Plain and simple. And any attempt to invalidate the results, to turn it around in our favor, WILL come back to bite us in the ass later. I guarantee it.

2) Obstructionism as revenge
Another issue that has been gaining traction lately in social media is exhortations to Congressional Democrats to be as obstructionist as the Republicans were for President Obama. I guess the rationale for this is to “let them see what it feels like.”

The problem with this, apart from it being dangerous to the country to have ANOTHER four years of nothing being done, is twofold. First, it’s just juvenile. This is something my twelve year old would say, because “getting even” is a big thing with people that age.

We will never “get even.” All that will happen is that Congress’s approval ratings will slip even lower (not that they have that far to go before hitting absolute zero), and Americans will feel the pinch.

Second, the GOP, quite frankly, doesn’t give two shits. They have the majority in the House, the Senate, both Houses of state legislatures in 33 states, and 33 governorships, which means that, in addition to having the votes necessary to pass some truly bass ackwards shit, they also have control at the procedural level -- that is, which measures actually make it to the floor for debate -- and they can control the messaging. And say what you will about the Republican Party, they do have very strong discipline when it comes to messaging (I remember about a year and a half ago that Mitch McConnell and John Boehner made public statements to the press on an issue, and their statements were, word for word, identical. Oh, and it was all Obama’s fault).
On the other side are those who basically adopt P. J. O’Rourke’s stance: “The Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work and then they get elected and prove it.” Their take on things is to let the GOP have its way, pass all the ridiculous legislation it wants to, then show up at Congressional elections in two years saying “See? I told ya they’d fuck it up.”

The problem with this, of course, is that the Senate and House are being led by right-wing ideologues, and the Vice-President-elect is a man who makes George Will look like Leonardo DiCaprio (politically, that is). They are obviously itching to repeal Obamacare (not that they have anything to replace it with, except more privatization), overturn Roe v. Wade, overturn same-sex marriage, and (if Pence has his way) impose theocratic dominion over all US citizens -- a group which, in their view, does not include Muslims, Mexicans, or women.

In fact, it would not surprise me in the least to see an effort by the extreme right in Congress to repeal the 19th Amendment.

I realize that, by now, many of you are scratching your heads and wondering if I’m ever going to get to the point. So here ya go.

The point of all this is, we have to be better than ... well, everything. We have to be better than the mob mentality that is taking over some progressives, causing them to march in the streets and ignore the election results. We have to be better than the Trump supporters who are gleefully gloating, posting racist, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic trash, and generally reinforcing the stereotype of all Trump supporters being knuckle-dragging troglodytes. We have to be better than all the pollsters, pundits, and politicos who were complacent in assuming that Hillary would win in a walk.

Above all, we have to be better than Trump, McConnell, Ryan, and the rest of the Republicans who are so eager to move our country backward. How do we do this? It’s simple, actually. Not easy, but simple.

We must champion equal rights for all. We must work tirelessly to prevent them doing damage to the best of our ability. We must always strive to make things better for people. We must not be condescending, patronizing, or dismissive of those who supported Trump ... to them, their grievances are very real, and part of the reason we were unable to win with them is we essentially wrote them off as hopeless cases.

In short, we have to do our jobs as progressives. Sure, we’ll lose some (if not most) battles, and yes, there are going to be times when it seems like we are getting nothing accomplished. When that happens, we can take comfort in the fact that a) the majority of the public agrees with US, not them, despite their rhetoric; b) our ideas are, quite frankly, BETTER, and are intended to move the country forward, not protect our own asses (at least, most of the time); and c) we are the adults in the room, leading by example. We are willing to compromise, to find common ground, to sacrifice ideological purity for the greater good -- in short, everything the Republicans won’t do -- and this will seep into the American consciousness.

Above all, we must put our country first. Yes, Trump is a coarse buffoon. Yes, Newt Gingrich is a reactionary bozo. Yes, Mike Pence makes the Spanish Inquisition look like a quiz show. Yes, Sarah Palin is an empty-headed nitwit. And yes, they are going to try to stack the Supreme Court with religious ideologues. None of that matters.

What matters is that we show the Republican Party, the American public, and the world that progressives are NOT the manipulative, cynical political hacks that the GOP is trying to portray us as. We need to show that we are patriotic, well-intentioned members of society, and that we are trying to make things better for everyone -- not just Democrats.

We can do this. It’s gonna suck for a couple of years, but we can do this. And in 2018, despite the ridiculous gerrymandering put into place with Republican-drawn Congressional districts in 2010, we can take back the majorities we need to effect some positive results. And I, for one, can’t wait to get started.

Let’s do this.

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