In just three weeks Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States and it is crystal clear that the Democratic Party still hasn't accepted that reality. Worse, it doesn't seem to have a plan with how to deal with the incoming administration.
This denial isn't just limited to Democrats. From what I've been seeing on social media, it's wide spread throughout the progressive community. From the ill-fated attempt at influencing electors to somehow switch their votes from Trump to anyone with a pulse - yours truly, I confess, was caught up in this hair-brained scheme - to insisting that because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote that meant she was entitled to win the presidency, to suggesting that Barack Obama would've beaten Trump if he had run for a third term, to outright blaming Vladimir Putin for stealing the election, it is clear that there is much to be done if we - and by we, I mean not just Democrats, but everyone else concerned with preserving this Republic - are to formulate an effective strategy going forward.
But let's clear the air, once and for all, and dispense with the above one by one. First, the electors. Can you imagine the Constitutional crisis that would've erupted had the electors chosen a different candidate than Trump? As I wrote in an earlier piece, "the uproar over such a scenario could destroy the Republic; and if not destroy it, damage it to such an extent it might take decades to repair." There was simply no justification for it and the electors were wise to reject it.
Then there's the popular vote issue. Clinton supporters, however, overlook the fact that most of the nearly three million more votes she received came from one state: California. The last time that state was in play was when George H.W. Bush was running for president while Reagan's VP. Since then, it has been comfortably in the blue column.
Moving on to Obama, I don't suppose it would make a difference if I were to remind the readers of this blog that he was prevented from running for a third term thanks to the 22nd Amendment? But for those so inclined to deal in hypothetical scenarios, I would suggest a piece by Bill Scher in Politico might quash that sentiment. To sum up, it's quite likely that Obama would've fallen to Trump and the wave of nationalism that appears to be sweeping most of the western world. Remember how unlikely the Brexit vote seemed a few months ago? Don't be surprised if Angela Merkel winds up being the next victim.
And lastly, there's Putin. I have no doubt he played a role in the election, as did James Comey. The leaked emails and Comey's politicizing of Clinton's server helped reinforce the impression that many voters had that Hillary was untrustworthy. But it was her poor strategy down the stretch that allowed Trump to overtake her, more than any outside influence. Put succinctly, the Clinton team took way too much for granted and was way too dismissive of warning signs that, in retrospect, should've been as clear as day.
I'm talking about the Rust-Belt region, where Clinton lost this election. The first hint that something was wrong should've been the polling they were getting out of Iowa. This was a state Obama won twice and yet, as late as September, Clinton was trailing and trailing badly. The second hint should've been the polling in Ohio. Again, this was a state Obama carried twice and at one point Clinton trailed by as much as six points.
But rather than take note of these two states, the Clinton campaign trudged on, confident in their belief that even without those two states, they still had Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in the bag. They didn't and there were clear indications that their belief was misguided. For one, polls in Pennsylvania began tightening even before Comey's eleventh hour surprise; secondly, there was a dearth of late polling from Wisconsin and Michigan. In other words, team Clinton was relying on early polling that showed her up by five points, when in fact her numbers were going south fast. By the time they got wind of trouble, the damage was irreversible. Clinton's last-minute trip to Michigan was too little too late.
But what really did Clinton in was her decision early on to ignore the unrest that was going on among white blue-collar workers and instead rely almost exclusively on a mostly urban, minority vote to carry her across the finish line. It failed miserably. Michael Tomasky has an excellent piece on how Democrats and Clinton dropped the ball that is worth reading.
In our political-media shorthand, adjectives like white and church-going and suburban connote conservative, but it just isn’t necessarily so. Most are more middle class than working class, though some are the latter. They may not check every single box. They may squirm a little when the trans-bathroom issue comes up. They think political correctness can be kind of ridiculous.And let me just say for the record I've been as guilty as anyone for being dismissive of these people. Trump may have gotten the racist vote, but his share of the white blue-collar vote was what won him those three damned states and if Democrats intend on turning them blue in four years they would do well to heed Tomasky's advice.
But they’re solid, wonderful people, and they live in small towns in purple states. Millions are in fact liberals, to some degree or another, and many millions more may not be liberals but sure aren’t conservatives.
The Democratic Party needs to identify leaders who can connect with these folks. But more generally, liberals in New York and Washington and San Francisco and so on need to go talk to them, too, and see them as just as important a part of the gorgeous mosaic as the kinds of people we more commonly associate with the word multicultural.
Pounding one's chest and proudly exclaiming a meaningless statistic like popular vote, or crying foul over the malfeasance of a foreign government isn't going to win back the White House in 2020 anymore than wishing I was six inches taller would've made me a better basketball player when I was young.
Nor is wishing that 2016 would just go ahead and die going to change anything if the same rotten attitudes persist in 2017. All it gets you is another year older and that much more embittered.