Rending of Garments and Gnashing of Teeth

As the results of the election unfolded, observing the reactions of the disappointed has been especially interesting. There have been many – some more appropriate than others – but the reactions that caught my attention were the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth.

Let’s be sure we know what I am writing about today by excluding what I am not writing about.

Few can have been more disappointed than President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

No two-term president in history tried to choose his successor more zealously than President Obama.

There are few people in history who have tried harder and longer to become President than Secretary Clinton.

Both have ample and understandable reason for disappointment yet both accepted defeat with extraordinary grace. Their speeches were flawless.

President-elect Trump, not known for either grace or class, also delivered a speech to his followers at 3:15 on Wednesday morning that struck all of the right notes. Of course, he does not exactly qualify as disappointed.

This story is not about any of them or, indeed, about any of those — of whichever political stripe — who are dusting themselves off after a tough and ugly campaign and deciding how to fix whatever they think is broken.

It is about the others.

On Wednesday, a teacher at an upscale private school in Northwest Washington DC found herself surrounded by enraged mothers clutching their multi-adjective lattés and shouting, “what will you tell the children?”

A trainer located not far from that school emailed his customers, “Hello everyone! In light of this year’s presidential election, I’m offering stress free workouts tomorrow and Friday. No cost to you, all I’m asking for is a donation to…”

“Thankfully I don’t have to explain to her what happened, because she is 2 years old,” posted another mother on social media.

There has been rioting in several cities including car burnings and chants of “Not Our President.”

To be fair, we do not get to answer the contra factual question, “what if the election had gone the other way.” It is entirely possible that the responses from the Trump supporters would have been equally bad if he had lost.

Apparently, it has occurred to none of these people that there is an easy answer. We held an election for the 58th time in our history and, as has happened all 57 times before, a candidate won and another lost. It is entirely reasonable to wonder – lament even – why it happened but entirely unreasonable to wonder or lament that it happened.

The “oh poor me” response and the related “don’t you know how this makes me feel” question seem at least as narcissistic as the despised president-elect.

Surprise could be a factor in their responses but this election should not have been a surprise. I got it wrong and so did almost everyone else but that is more because we were stupid than because we were ambushed. The signs should have been clear.

In the 2008 election, the Democrats under the leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi increased their majority from 236 to 257 seats while the Republicans lost the same 21 seats declining from 199 to 178. In the same year the Democrats, under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, gained eight seats from a 49-49 tie. President Obama began his first term with 365 electoral votes to 173 won by John McCain.

In the 2016 election, as President Obama completes his two terms, the Republicans, under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have retained the majority in the Senate with 51 or 52 seats to the Democrats’ 48 or 49 (Louisiana December runoff outcome to be determined). In the House, under the leadership of Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republicans will hold 238 seats to the Democrats 193. President Trump will have won at least 279 electoral votes to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 228. There remain 38 to be determined.

What does it tell us when a party loses 64 House seats, at least eight Senate seats and perhaps as many as 137 electoral votes during a two-term presidency?

Something was headed in the wrong direction and it did not all happen last Tuesday.

Here is the text of a social media post that is pin balling around the Internet.

“When all the non-racist, non-misogynist, non-homophobic, non-bigoted, everyday ordinary people get so sick of you calling them racists, misogynists, homophobes, and bigots that they go out and vote against your candidate, do you:

A. Reevaluate your personal conduct and strategy of convincing people to share your politics?

Or

B. Call them racists, misogynists, homophobes, and bigots and yell at them even more?

According to most of my timeline, you chose B. and that’s exactly why your candidate lost.”

It was not the first thing I saw this morning. This was: A Closeted SF Conservative.

And here is the email I sent to my son’s family along with it: “The closed mindedness and sense of entitlement on display by the soreheads who created the reason for their defeat and then suffered the very defeat they created is breathtaking. The demonstrations are a visible example but there are many others less visible but more pernicious. In a sharp reversal of roles the tree is uprooting itself to stand closer to the apple. Great job Willy.”

I don’t like Donald Trump and I did not vote for him but Washington has done this to itself and it deserves what it gets.

It was not a win for Republicans over Democrats because Donald Trump is not even a Republican. It was a win for those being ripped off over those who are doing so. Calling them racists, misogynists, homophobes and bigots is an unlikely winning strategy.

 

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Haven Pell

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Without hesitation, Franklin replied, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

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  • That’s right. The ripped struck back at the rippers, in the only way they could, via the ballot box.

    They have voted for a man whose anti-immigration policies and protectionist policies are designed
    to appeal to the ripped. And they sure did.

    But will these policies work for the country as a whole? Will Trump’s protectionist policies end up diminishing international trade, thus yielding a net loss to the country’s wealth? Is that a better fate
    than the slow bleeding caused by perennial trade imbalances?

    Take your pick.

    Can Trump build a wall? I continue to read a wall would cost 500 billion dollars. I sincerely doubt Mexico will be paying such a sum. Will Congress stump up that kind of cash for a wall?

    Your call.

    Trump claims he will replace and repeal Obamacare. This would appear to be almost universally popular, and will probably happen. He claims his policy of across-state-lines insurance competition will bring costs down. But, he will doubtless leave U.S. health care in the hands of the insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies, just as Obama did. Think these companies are interested in containing and lowering costs long term?

    Think again.

    Trump will probably listen to his generals, and beef up Nato, just in case Putin miscalculates. Trump claims he will grind more money out of our Nato partners.

    Maybe he will. Good luck.

    Trump has committed to rebuilding our infrastructure. That’s a big-ticket item. If Congress enacts the better part of his proposed tax cuts, tax receipts are likely to fall short of paying for this increased financial obligation. Reagan cut taxes big-time, and the country boomed. But the national debt also tripled, because Congress wouldn’t make any concomitant budget cuts. At this stage of the game, I don’t think we can afford a tripling of the debt. Or a doubling. Or much more at all, if we want to avoid a financial crisis.

    A bit of a conundrum.

    I wish Trump well. I sincerely hope that his policies, however they end-up, will be beneficial to the country.
    I just don’t quite see how it will all work out.

    Maybe he does.

    • I am such a cynic that I toss out everything said in a campaign as soon as it ends. I don’t believe any of them means any of it. They simply tell the lies necessary to get the required votes then move on to whatever they wanted to do anyway. Hence, the most disappointed are those who supported the winner.

      Here is a nugget from Politico Playbook.

      WHAT IF … — The new narrative among top GOP leadership aides in Capitol and around D.C. is that Trump might just govern like a middle-of-the-road, moderate New York Republican. The guy wants $1 trillion in roads, tax reform and changes to the health care law. He’s not interested in answering questions about his plan to ban Muslims or build a wall on the border with Mexico — it’s almost like he didn’t campaign on those issues for years! He’s not going to get in the weeds and dictate details — that’s what Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell are for. He’s going to defer to Mike Pence on tactics and relationship building. What if he fooled us all?

    • I like this approach. which I plan to adopt, because then you don’t have to think (always a burden) about proposed policies, etc., which ain’t gonna happen nohow noway.

      Are there exceptions to this rule? I seem to recall Reagan said he would do 3 things: slash taxes, hyper-beef up the military, and cut spending. He did 2 of them! Unusual? He had a Congress that delivered, something we no longer have. Maybe that’s worse than the deplorable presidents we have had of late. I digress. Reagan did 2 out of 3. Spending cuts, no way. Congress doesn’t do those.

      How big an exception is Reagan to the PUCR (Pundificator Ultra-Cynical Rule?)

      An enquiring mind needs to know…

      • anyone who spells enquiring with an e can have whatever they like.

        The PUCR and its first exception are decreed by executive order

        • Cognoscenti of the first magnitude understand the use of “e” in the word “enquiring” in this context. The phrase “inquiring minds need to know” derives from the oft-employed phrase found at the end of certain articles in the National Enquirer. The substitution of “e” for “i” in the word “inquiring” signifies a hidden reference to this important derivation, as the “e” reflects the “E” in “National Enquirer.”

          Knowledge of this secret signal rivals knowledge of the membership lists of the
          Illuminati, which can be readily found online, said lists of course including Jay-Z, Beyonce, Obama, Kid Rock, Ozzie Osborne, and Vladimir Putin.

          An enquiring mind needed to know, and now it does.

  • Good article, Haven. One might hope that Democrats would learn from their defeat not only how destructive “identify politics” can be, but also how they can come back to bite you in the ass: but that hope would probably be in vain.

    Republicans have been gnashing their teeth if not from the day of Obama’s election (who really wanted McCain?), then at least since the day that Obamacare was passed into law without a single vote from the Right. Even if they felt “not my President” from that day forward, I don’t remember hearing that expressed (Except perhaps by Rush Limbaugh), let alone seeing riots in the streets or hearing calls for secession.

    So now much of Obama’s “legacy” probably will be undone, and if so it won’t even be that hard because he “ruled” with a “phone and a pen” instead of by doing the hard work of governing by forming alliances and passing bipartisan legislation, which is the way it is supposed to be done. Good riddance. I suppose if I thought hard enough I could remember something he did that I like or respect, but I don’t want to bother to make the effort. Perhaps his greatest accomplishment will have been getting men into the ladies room, or abetting the elevation of thugs like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown to the status of martyrs.

    Obama had a vision that was rejected by large segments of population from the get-go. The astounding thing is that Democrats decided that they just did not care and that they would steamroll their countrymen, essentially disenfranchising anyone who disagreed with them (elections have consequences!). Worse, as you point out, ignoring the opposition was insufficient; they had to disparage them as well, presumably to justify their excesses to themselves. I hope and pray that Trump will not emulate this governing style. If he does, however, the MSM will suddenly rediscover the dangers of an imperial presidency. That will be good for a few chuckles.

    As an aside, can you believe the idiocy on campuses these days? In 1967 and 1968 we had legitimate fears about the future and if we would even survive a probable stint in Vietnam. Our parents had to worry about WWII, our younger uncles had to worry about Korea, and some of our grandfathers had to worry about WWI and/or the Depression. The pussies today can’t go to class or take an exam because they don’t like what their duly elected President might say or do or think? It’s pitiful… “closed mindedness” is correct, but it goes beyond that. It is weak-mindedness, or perhaps even mindlessness. Safe spaces? suspension of the First Amendment? How are these kids going to survive in the real world? Obama and Clinton both called Trump thin-skinned on numerous occasions, but what do they call their minions who are so “sensitive” that they cannot even hear an opinion which differs from their own, or perhaps I should say from that opinion which has been drilled into them by their PC professors and classmates? Then again, many on the Right might say this is a description of Obama and explains why he was always so aloof from the the nitty gritty of forming coalitions and negotiating bipartisan legislation.
    I’m rambling so ’nuff said.

      • Before we leave this topic completely, let us not forget that it was only James Madison’s compromise to slave-holding states that ensured the election results of 2000 and 2016. Hillary has 60.27 million votes this morning; the Donald has 59.94 million. He’s unlikely to make up the margin; California still has some 3 million votes to count, which will likely go roughly 3-2 for Clinton.

        • The Chicago Cubs won 4 of the 7 games in the World Series. As it happened the Cubs also scored 32 total runs to the Indians 28. Had the run total been reversed, would you have declared the Indians the winner even though the rules say that the team winning 4 of the 7 games wins?

          It might make your narrative sound better to use the words “slave-holding states” but what if you used the term “states needed to form a country?”

          There was a time when Democrats rather liked slave-holding states but we would hate to admit that this all changed when the votes went the other way.

          Not defending Trump voter or Republicans here but I am not sure we are assisted by either gauzy narratives or feel-good do-overs.

  • Nothing in my comment suggests changing the result or abandoning the electoral college. I do suggest that we not forget the incontrovertible fact that a majority of Americans apparently do not support the policies, perspective, or personality of our president-elect. Anyone suggesting otherwise is ignoring the numbers. Theo Epstein would advise against that. Go Cubs!

  • What I was trying to say last night while I was watching the football game was that the “Party of inclusion ” has, for at least 8 years, and probably much longer, engaged in the politics of division and derision, all the while trying to sell the idea that the Republicans were somehow the bad guys. Playing with hate is playing with fire, and they got burned. Most Americans do not hate and do not want to hate their fellow citizens, nor do they want to be encouraged to do so. Complain as she might about Comey and the Russians, I think Clinton lost because of her callousness towards the Benghazi victims (it actually does make a difference how and why they were killed) and because of her obvious disdain for Trump supporters. One is not deplorable just because he or she cannot stand Clinton or because they loath Progressive philosophy. I heard Van Jones opine that Tuesday’s vote was a “white-lash.” If so, Liberal’s got a taste of their own medicine. Whatever the truth, I think it’s pathetic to try to blame the Democrats’ loss on racism.
    David has a point about Trump and about the plurality of votes, but between two horribly flawed candidates, my opinion is that the less “dangerously” flawed one won. He is also the one who will be excoriated by the MSM, while Clinton’s excesses would have been willfully ignored in the same way Obama’s were. The country will be better off this way, I hope.

  • I also think young people will be shocked and amazed to discover over the next 4-8 years that living in a country dominated by Conservatives is not the end of the world. It’s a good lesson.

  • Haven,
    Your next to last sentence jumped out at me again!
    You said “It was a win for those being ripped off over those who are doing so. ”
    I would argue for this rewording:
    “It was an unfortunate win by those being ripped off as they just elected someone who has long been ripping them off and who will now be empowered to do so on a much larger scale.”
    Trump’s life so far shows a veneration of money, but no indication of any actual desire to serve his fellows,
    and that is who we managed to elect to the presidency.
    wow. still stunned.

    • A few years into this LibertyPell process, I had a chance to spend some one-on-one time with a well known journalist. We discussed online blogs, which were somewhat new to him too (long career on paper).

      “Do you read the comments to your stories,” he asked

      “Yes,” I said

      “Oh no,” he replied then paused. “Do you reply to the comments?” he asked.

      “Yes,” I said, sheepishly.

      “Ohhhhhhhhh noooooooooooo,” replied the great man, “you must never do that. It just encourages them.”

      I have never followed that advice but I think I will draw a line.

      The comments will be for readers and not for editors even though I might need one.

      I note your differing view and thank you for the time you have taken to express it.