Remember those clowns a few weeks ago? The scary clowns? I think they were trying to tell us something.
Did you know that 235,248,000 people are eligible to vote in the United States? Fewer than 120,000,000 of those people bothered to show up to vote this year, and turnout was considered high. Of those, about half, or one quarter of the voting population, elected a clown as our leader, because the clown promised to take steps to ensure a continued white majority in the United States.
That’s what happened in my world last night. What happened in your world?
Between the bouts of uncontrollable sobbing, I feel better than I thought I would should this happen. (And, yes, I thought this could happen, though I put the chances of a Trump victory at less than 50% but still significant.) Why do I feel a bit better?
Well, two related reasons. When Plan A fails, go to Plan B. And, we have two Plan B’s, one foisted on us, the other … well, also foisted on us.
The first Plan B was originally the main plan for the few million Americans who did bother to vote but who chose to vote for a third party, or to write in a candidate, or who may not have actually voted, in hopes of a Trump presidency not because they love Trump, but because they wanted to put an end to the American system, or to cause us so much grief and pain that we would have to strip down and rebuild our system. These are the people who tend to wear the racist Guy Fawkes masks, and love Wikileaks. Those born of the unholy union between Napster and #Occupy, though most are unaware of who their own father is (more on that another time, perhaps).
Yes, people did have that strategy, and just about enough of them, by my estimation, that they may have actually caused the Trump presidency to happen. They were nearly to a person privileged, or unaware of differential privilege, mostly young, male, healthy, and in no way a member any already repressed, soon to be more repressed, group. I deeply resent the fact that the special snowflake voters got to be actual special snowflakes in this election, but the fact is that they won. We have Trump, and now, no more patching the leaks or fixing the broken gutter. We have to do the whole tear-off.
So that was a demented, counter productive, unspeakable plan that some people had in mind, and now, it is our Plan, all of ours.
The second reason is a simple observation which I think should guide our activism over the next four years.
The Republicans — and make no mistake about the fact that Donald Trump is their president and we will make sure that the Republican Party and this president are married forever — are now in charge, all around. They have the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and soon, the Supreme Court.
That is a bad thing. But, it is also a new thing. It has been years since the Republicans have owned the ball, and the bat, and the yard we are playing in. For so long, the Republicans have had only one single policy driver: Oppose the uppity black guy no matter what. For a while there, it looked like they were going to have to expand. Oppose the lying bitch no matter what. That would have been an easy transition for them.
But no, that is no longer possible. The Republicans are now in charge, so they have to actually do things. And, of course, that is what we all fear, that they can and will do things. But it is very important to understand how that works, and how to respond to it.
For starters, recognize the fact that a large part of the Republican Congress is relatively young, were put in power by the Tea Party, often displacing members of their own party, and have hardly ever, if ever, had to do anything but engage in the politics of blind opposition.
Those that are older, not members of that first group, include those who have sold their soul to the Tea Party, and are ready to bend over again as necessary, so they can be included in that first group. Others that are older are, well, old, and will be going away soon. A small number of the elder Republicans are those that might remember something of governing, and by today’s standards may be something less than monsters, but they will be set aside by the large central core and made irrelevant.
If the Democrats had won both houses of congress and the White House, then Republicans would have already started, this very morning, demanding to know why they have not fixed this or that problem. Well? What have you done, Democrats, now that you are in charge? Were you just going to stand there and do nothing?
The Republicans have to be asked this question every single day, starting now. And here’s why.
Many of the GOP wet dream policies are actually impossible to carry out, or if they are carried out, would carry with them consequences that would feed back on the party in a negative way.
For example, the members of the right wing hate Obamacare, every one of them, right down to the ones who are taking advantage of it. Republicans have promised to end Obamacare right away. If they do that, a lot of people are going to be unhappy. If they don’t, a lot of people are going to be unhappy.
Let me draw a big thick line under this, add highlighting, and stick a post-it next to it with an arrow. Nobody can restructure our health insurance system without producing results that many will hate. But ..
1) Two parties working in loyal opposition can make progress and indirectly share blame by blaming each other; but
2) Two parties where the minority is not loyal, but only opposes, can only create a lesser system, and the majority carries all the blame for it; but then,
3) One party in charge of everything can’t do better than these options, but will get to take all the blame and credit, but since that party has spent decades stoking the cynicism of the voter, there will be no credit, only blame.
The Republicans, Trump and the Congress, will not be able to make a move, here on out, where they win. This is the system they created. They created a system where the status quo can never, ever win. And now they are the status quo.
It is easy to see how that works with Obamacare, because we can imagine many of those very same individuals who went to the Trump rallies, yelled at reporters, beat up guys with anti-Trump signs, etc. going home one day and finding out that their child, who has some terrible illness from birth, can no longer be covered by health insurance. It will be our jobs over the next several months to also imagine this pattern but in other areas of policy, including addressing climate change, the economy and jobs, and so on.
Starting now. Formulate the questions. Shout the questions from the rooftops. Demand answers.
At the same time, of course, we have to identify the other half of the electorate, the ones who don’t vote, and find out what they are doing, why, and bring them on board with the rest of civilization.
Added: I lived through something like this before indirectly. My father was a senior civil servant, in housing. He had been asked by Jimmy Carter to be his HUD director, but my Dad mad a deal, so he could not take that position during Carter’s first term, but (likely) take that job in Carter’s second term. Then, of course, Reagan got elected President.
So for the next 8 years, my father, a (relatively) liberal democrat running a public housing authority in a Democratic city under the president who promised to remove all the regulations and wipe out public assistance (and did so, in fact, in some areas), ran a housing authority that had started out millions in debt. He converted the debt to millions in surplus, totally overhauled all of the housing, added new housing, and with one notable exception, got every single project he wanted to implement done.
How did he do that? By a) recognizing the nature of politics under Reagan, and b) spending about one out of every four days in DC demanding answers like the ones I allude to above. In the end, he accumulated enough frequent flyer miles that he and my mother didn’t buy a plane ticket for years, won more awards than any other housing director, reshaped how public housing at the medium scale works, and gained widespread appreciation. Things are named after him.
In other words, he mastered political Kung Fu. Not one’s ideal Plan A (that would have been, for him, being HUD Secretary, and much more productive) but not a bad Plan B. My point: this can be done.
So, what’s next?