Mac Deford: Trump Wins. Now What?
Thursday, November 10, 2016 1:34 PM
Well, for all those disappointed Hillary backers who are still in a state of shock — count me in — a little piece of good news: President-elect Trump made some surprisingly gracious remarks about his opponent. “We owe her a major debt of gratitude,” he said in his acceptance speech, referring to Hillary, “for her service to her country.” So maybe he won’t put her in jail after all.
Donald Trump is the second Republican in the last five elections to win the Electoral College while losing the popular vote.
Fine, but it’s going to take more than nice words to unite a very split country. Many of those who voted for Hillary did so not because of their fondness for her so much as their dislike of him. During the campaign, media commentators, both Republican and Democrat, frequently referred to the fact that the election was between the two most disliked candidates in American history. So, cheer up: a candidate roundly disliked by half the population had to win.
But if Clinton is the embodiment of the Democratic establishment, Trump is a Republican outsider disdained by the Bush family and other prominent Republicans. So he will not only have to find a way to at least neutralize the great Democratic hatred — not too strong a word, I’m afraid — for him, but as well, to unite recalcitrant Republicans behind him.
The irony is that up until two days ago, the media focus was on how the Republican Party would reconstitute itself in the face of what all the polls were assuring us was an imminent Trump defeat.
In retrospect, the best reaction to the election outcome was a sports analogy this past weekend. Citing the more than 75% likelihood of a Clinton victory that polls were forecasting, the commentator pointed out a Hillary loss was quite possible: it was merely the equivalent of missing a field goal from the 38-yard line. And indeed, he added, we just had a game go into overtime in which two field goals failed from that distance. Good analogy: US politics has long been a contact sport.
If Democrats are still in a state of shock, so too are our Western allies, not to mention our Mexican neighbors. But Russia’s Putin, the odd man out, warmly congratulated Trump. And why not? During the campaign, Trump had argued that NATO was obsolete. Might Putin make an aggressive move in the Baltics early in a Trump presidency?
Trump also complained that the US is carrying too much of the defense burden in Asia. Meanwhile, North Korea, under the unsteady hand of Kim Jong Un, is moving rapidly to build up a nuclear arsenal with missiles it hopes will soon be able to hit our West Coast. Is Trump’s victory going to encourage the North Korean dictator to more risky behavior?
If you want to find a foreign policy silver lining in Clinton’s defeat, it at least removes her threat to initiate a no-fly zone over northern Syria, which would likely have drawn the US into that unwinnable quicksand. But could Trump’s more isolationist foreign policy lead to even greater chaos in the Middle East?
At home, will Trump attempt to carry through with his threat to throw out the 11 million undocumented immigrants? And that famous wall along the Mexican border? Well, at least it would provide jobs, though presumably if Trump somehow finds a way to fulfill his promise to make Mexico pay for it, it’ll be Mexican jobs.
Worse, of course, is the internal divisiveness that a Trump victory brings with it. He got less than 10% of black votes and Hispanics voted more than 2 to 1 against him. And even among whites, there are sharp class divisions, with the less educated, working-class whites supporting Trump.
The white middle class that indeed made America great with its industrial output is gone, never to return. The famous American Dream is now just a piece of history. Trump’s supporters hope he can bring back all those lost jobs, and with it, that dream. But how? And how will they react when they find he can’t?
And Obamacare? Once he and his Republican Congress repeal Obama’s key healthcare reform, how exactly will he replace it? Twenty million more Americans have affordable healthcare as a result of Obama’s initiative, perhaps a majority of whom voted for Trump. Will they now lose it?
And finally, of course, there is the interesting coincidence that Donald Trump is the second Republican in the last five elections to win the Electoral College while losing the popular vote.
The last time that happened, it gave us George W. Bush.
Who gave us the Iraq War.
What will Donald Trump give us?