11/9/16 12:21 pm - It's not the end of the world, but I feel awful
My Facebook is blowing up with sorrow, despondency, and fear -- my twitter, too (pretty much everyone's twitter).
So I'm not going to do that. This is a terrible loss; I won't downplay it, but...it's not the end of the world. For most of us, anyway.
And anyway, I've lost an Presidential election before.
My first Presidential election (that I could vote in) was 1992, when we voted in Bill Clinton. I didn't really know much about him, but he was the Democratic candidate, so I was going to support him. In the end...it was mediocre, with a military ban on homosexual service replaced by "don't ask, don't tell", dismantling of the welfare system, economic prosperity which only aided the dismantling of protections against catastrophic massively leveraged bank implosions, the Sony Bono copyright extension act, and the Defense of Marriage Act. But at least we had a competent Democratic President pushing down the deficit, presiding over nuclear disarmament, and signing the Family and Medical Leave act. But really read this: https://clinton1.nara.gov/White_House/Accomplishments/html/accomp-plain.html; there just isn't that much there to like; minor stuff like gun control and environmental preservation, while incarcerating thousands and establishing the trade agreement doctrine that helped Trump win the most recent election.
My third Presidential election, though, was 2000, when with machinations aplenty, GW Bush --- the ex-drug addicted playboy who was the laughingstock of Texas liberals--became President. And...it was awful. He presided over the worst economic crash in my lifetime, doubling down on it by massive tax cuts to the rich, starting an expensive and unnecessary (as well as costly in lives and war in the Middle East). He tortured people, may very well have redirected intelligence resources such that they missed the terrorist attacks in 2001, and his wars let him get two terms. Oh, and he borrowed trillions to do all of this. And was planning his wars before he even got into office.
In all this, Obama was a shining light. We were all there, we know what he accomplished, and that (except for Obamacare) was against a hostile congress.
Now? Well, there are awful indicators; Trump is an egotist, an abuser, throws dog whistles to the racist and bigoted crowd all the time, and appears to have superbly bad impulse control. And he'll have a nominally friendly congress for at least two years.
But that said, it's not "Trump the character" who is going to be President--however similar or different they are, it's "Trump the person." Who is hardly a saint (see above), but frankly, if his waffling has shown us anything, it's that we have no idea what he truly believes; just that it changes with what he thinks is going to appeal to his base.
So (almost) anything could happen. He's emboldened the "America First" crowd, and talked about building walls and religious discrimination. Packing the Supreme Court with conservative judges, repealing Obamacare, making it easier for him to sue reporters who say stuff he doesn't like. Ending net neutrality. This is what he got elected on.
He's also talked about public works projects and fixing our infrastructure (which badly needs it), raising the minimum wage, preventing obvious terror threats from buying firearms, and putting measures in place to protect American workers from needless outsourcing. And has talked about replacing Obamacare with something better for the individual, focusing on its flaws--the individual mandate and the way that gives license to insurance to raise rates as long as they can get away with it, the way it doesn't solve the state-based cartel issue, etc. This is -also- what he got elected on.
So I don't know, and frankly neither do you. Which Trump are we going to get? The populist? The demagogue? The fake or real conservative? Secret force for white supremacy? All or some of the above?
What I do know is that we haven't actually moved backwards long term. We've taken a step back, sure, even a significant one -- but I supremely doubt that Trump is going to reverse (or even try to reverse) all the strides we've taken in the last 13 years. 13 years ago, remember, people couldn't get married to people of the same sex in -any- state, QUILTBG people couldn't serve in the military unless they hid their status (I'm leaving out A because I don't think Asexual people were a problem on -that- score unless they were otherwise queer as well), no state had legalized marijuana and the federal government was threatening to crack down on them if they tried, and plenty of other rights and privileges of my friends were far, far from where they are right now.
Is it likely a bunch of stuff I love will get rolled back? Absolutely -- Obergefell is super-likely to get killed by any Justice Trump puts into the Court; Obamacare is going to get modified and who knows if the result is going to have any of the important parts--public markets, a ban on pre-existing conditions, public financing for those who need it [in states that accept it, anyway] that allow people who need to be able to affordably buy private health care regardless of their personal health to do so. But it's super-unlikely that a Trump Congress will pass all of a trans bathroom ban, another national ban on same sex marriage, another massively over-broad Patriot act, or nationally illegalize marijuana again and re-ignite the drug war. Or even push all our proud trans and non-binary friends back into the closet. We'll lose some stuff, but I have reason to hope we won't lose -everything-.
We've moved massive steps forward in the last 12 years, and every time you move forward, there's a chance of hitting a wall and moving backwards--but our momentum hasn't changed. Not yet, at least. And -if- Trump is more invested in the stuff I liked (or at least didn't dislike) than the stuff I hate, as a Republican President, he's much more likely to be able to accomplish it. Only Nixon could go to China. Only Clinton could end welfare as we knew it (and curse him for it). -If- Trump choses to use some of his power for good, who knows what he can accomplish.
And there's the ironic silver lining -- one of the biggest reasons that the Republicans have been able to take over a massive number of state legislatures, both houses of congress, and now also the Presidency is that over the past 24 years, there's been a Democratic president for 16 of them -- and the party out of power tends to gain downballot. As the party indisputably in control of government starting mid-January, the Republicans are going to be held responsible for everything that goes wrong in the world, and it's up to all of us to hold them to that.
So for good or ill, Trump is going to be my President. Democracy has spoken, and democracy being the way we make decisions about our collective power that, now matter how we choose, many of us won't like, I am honor bound to live with it without even the lingering questions that dodged 2000--up to the point where Trump proves that he's going to abuse the powers of his office or ruin the world. This might come immediately as soon as he does anything--or I might be surprised. I'm not interested in pushing for impeachment from the start of his term; frankly, that would put Pence in power who would be more predictable and possibly worse, but also I don't believe in impeachment as a political tool rather than a last resort when an official actually commits a crime.
In the meanwhile, it's on all of us to keep as much of what we gained as we can, to keep pushing back whenever the government does something unpalatable, to help one another, and to take back the governments of the US in 2018 and 2020. This is the bed we've made, that has been made for us, and most of us are going to have to stay in it for a while--but that doesn't mean we need to lie in it.
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