Well, That Was Interesting
I’ve got to hand it to you, America, you’ve really outdone yourself.
The two major parties nominated the worst two candidates in recent history, but because you refuse to entertain a third party, one of them had to win.
In this corner: A liberal Democrat from New York. And in the other corner: A liberal Democrat from New York. Yes, that’s what we had. That is Trump’s history, from supporting single payer healthcare to the “assault weapon” ban, to his supporting Hillary in 2008. There is no reason to believe he actually saw the light, as it were, and realize he was wrong. But, as I do with a President I didn’t vote for, I will hope I am wrong on him. So far, though, I haven’t been (Clinton and Obama). We already know about Hillary, that doesn’t need to be rehashed yet again.
Now, on to what I think we learned last night. This is based on exit polling data I saw last night as well as how races were turning out. I haven’t seen much new as of this morning.
Both major candidates had high unfavorable numbers. Both were extremely polarizing. With the nomination of Trump, I had accepted the election of Clinton as fait accompli. What I, and many others, failed to grasp, was just how much the American people loathe and despise the Clintons (and, by extension, their allies in the media.) From what I was seeing in the results and exit polling data, support for Clinton was softer than we believed, but the hatred for her was also much stronger. Consider this that I saw last night:
in the WI exits, Trump was viewed unfavorably by 63% of voters, but he won 21% of those voters who don’t like him.
— Craig Gilbert (@WisVoter) November 9, 2016
Obviously, the polling for this election was unbelievably bad. But I think exits are a bit more likely to be reliable as they catch people who actually voted, and right after it. This is absolutely amazing. Despite his inexcusably boorish behavior, despite bragging about his ability to sexually assault women, people are so fed up with Clinton they that were willing to vote for someone who is also repugnant. Republicans can no longer claim to be the party of family values, morality, character, etc. You sold your souls for this win.
It’s not all good news for Trump, either. Consider this one from last night:
W/ 80% in, Trump has expanded his lead to 8 pts in Texas, per @CNN. That’s still the smallest margin for a GOP nominee in Texas since 1996.
— Patrick Svitek (@PatrickSvitek) November 9, 2016
Texas is reliably red. And it remained so in this election. But Trump under performed (assuming the final tally isn’t much different) rather dramatically. My own anecdotal experience points to soft Trump support in Texas. I voted early. At my polling place, I counted two Trump signs and Two Clinton signs. That’s it. Other candidates had more signs than that. My oldest daughter’s school was a polling place on election day. I saw two or three Clinton signs and no Trump signs. I assume that I missed some of the latter. I live in a very red area of suburban West Houston. That was actually astonishing.
Over a year ago, I predicted a Trump nomination would lead to the death of the Republican Party. It may have been granted a stay of execution, but I think it is still likely. The Republican Party has a rather significant problem on its hands, as does Conservatism as a whole. Trump ran a campaign based on fear and hatred, and it appealed to a seedy under-belly of the American Right. Based on his performance in the primaries, his “base” is roughly 35% of the Republican Party. This was the neighborhood of what he was receiving in primaries prior to securing the nomination. A significant chunk of these voters were motivated by racism, sexism, antisemitism, and various other vile and disgusting ideas. The Left was right about this, and Trump exposed it for all to see. If the GOP wants to remain relevant in the face of changing demographics, one third of their electorate has to be dealt with in some form or fashion, and they have to broaden their appeal. I have not been a Republican in a decade. I have not counted myself as a Conservative for longer still. I determined that party no longer represented me (perhaps it never did), and from this election cycle I can no longer even count them as allies in the fight to restore liberty to the American Republic. If the Republican Party wants to remain viable, they have to replace the rabid Trump supporters with people like me. You have some very good people. I would have happily voted for Rand Paul. I admire Justin Amash and Mike Lee. There’s simply not enough of them.
Both sides have to get a grip on themselves. We cannot survive as a nation if we permanently think of each other as evil. We can have deep-seated notions of what this country should be like. We can have spirited disagreements. But we cannot go on thinking everyone we disagree with is a racist or a sexist, or a commie or a libtard. To my friends on the Left: Consider how you demonized all of the recent of Republican candidates. What was so offensive about “binders full of women?” Now, how many of you would gladly take any of them over Trump? A sizable portion of the country was sick and tired of it. For my friends on the right, your rhetoric is no better. Not every Democrat is Satan.
I ask you to consider these words spoken by President Lincoln regarding slavery, and realize how they are appropriate to our nation polarized by politics:
Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer. If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all time or die by suicide.
We are becoming increasingly estranged from each other. This is not healthy for our Republic. We are increasingly at risk of becoming as fractured as we were leading up to the Civil War. I think we can turn it around, but it will require a great deal of humility from both sides. Are we capable of it?