11/10/2016—While I am glad that Donald Trump acted like a normal person after he won, that does not erase the damage of his prior nihilistic pronouncements—see comments like “the voting is rigged” and nobody believes the numbers anyway.” Imagine the scenario if Trump had lost—the anger, bitterness fanned by right wing media. That anger will return when the normal ups and downs of political life interfere with the Donald’s fantasy commitments, like 4% growth.
The outcome of the election shows the importance in a polarized politics of one Party having Congress and the Presidency. The Republicans can actually enact their program and the country can judge the results. This is good.
But that just shows how much damage the Supreme Court had done in allowing the political gerrymandering of the House of Representatives. There is no reasonable likelihood that the Democrats could ever enjoy the same situation as the Republicans now do, whatever the national vote for Congress. That is bad for democracy. Eventually, the Supreme Court must require reasonable efforts to ensure competitive seats in the House. For now, voting remains rigged.
The election results also show the fundamental health of the Democratic Party—still. Unlike the Republicans when President Obama won in 2008, no major Democratic Party figure called for unrelenting opposition. The Democrats will not generally use the filibuster in the Senate to bloc Republican Party action—I don’t mean never, just not to block everything. They won’t use it to block Trump’s judicial nominees, for example. This means that the Democratic Party is not dedicated to the failure of government. With that ideology, cooperation is obviously easier. But that also means the Republican Party is really sick at its heart.
But that is changing. Not the Republican side, where the tensions are only temporarily hidden by victory. But on the Democratic side, where voices are calling for just the kind of opposition-for-the-sake of opposition that you would hear if the shoe were on the other foot. Nihilism is growing in the Democratic Party.
For now, things look ok. The Democrats are hurting but the country is in some ways be better off. But all that is temporary. First, the election of a woman President should have already happened and has now been delayed. That is a real harm caused mostly by Hillary’s baggage and Trump’s political acumen. He ran a brilliant campaign. But the Democratic coalition just about still won despite all those votes against Hillary. Any other woman would probably have won. The 2012 electorate was 72% white. This time, 70%. Next time—68%? 67%? The demographic clock is still ticking for the Republican Party.
Which brings us to the next problem. Donald is still Donald. Of course, if he governs well and the Republicans maintain the House and Senate, we will have peace and prosperity for 8 years and all will be well. Then the Republicans will have a new, more diverse coalition, a more pragmatic platform, will deal with global warming in a market friendly way and we will return to the Republican Party domination of the 1920’s. But the Donald is the Donald and that scenario is not too likely.