As someone who loves election season, November 9th will be early Christmas. Barring some 2000-esque controversy, America will awake to a president-elect. I’ll sip my morning coffee with a feeling of gratitude that it’s over. The endless coverage, the reaction to every tweet, the wrestling match-like debates. Over. We made it. I’m starting to feel better already.
But. My day after fantasy is maybe a pipe dream, and Donald Trump will lose in spectacular fashion but refuse to concede, working to illegitimate Hillary Clinton for her entire first term. He’ll mobilize supporters to do ridiculous, unlawful things and their authoritarian fantasies will come crashing down as real laws stand in their way. I hold onto hope we’ll have a winner, the loser will accept the choice of the voters, and we’ll race toward Thanksgiving with smiles on our faces.
Thanksgiving won’t be easy this year. With the way this election has gone, it seems impossible to avoid it at the dinner table. Since entering the race, Trump exposed a portion of the electorate feeling forgotten and disillusioned by current affairs and used their anger to beat every establishment candidate in the primary. This is a good thing for an inclusive democracy, but terrible for anyone who thought we had moved past primal, festering hate.
For the Trumpian wing of the Republican party to lose steam, Hillary Clinton will need to make significant strides in her first term. The economy needs to continue to improve, healthcare costs need to decrease, and a winning message about the budget needs to be adopted. But most importantly: Hillary Clinton needs to show that she’ll be a president for all Americans. No small task, and maybe it’s impossible, but with each problem her administration improves upon, another Trump talking point holds less and less water. I have faith a Clinton administration will work to improve racial tensions, and fully expect her famous listening sessions to occur at the White House. If anything, this campaign has made her potential administration that much more accountable to real changes on many policy positions. Thanks, Bernie. Oh, and Democrats need to vote in the midterms, a longstanding, maddening problem.
America’s standing in the world will continue to improve if Hillary Clinton is president. Her previous experience, and the illustration that the American people had the collective good judgment to support her instead of Donald Trump will send the world a message.
But our democracy has been shaken by increasingly authoritarian, bullying politics. Through all the hot takes and long reads that will come after, I don’t think Trump’s form of politics will go away. Not right away, at least. The anger will bubble over during the midterms, and again in 2020’s primary. It will all depend on how badly Trump loses (if he does), and if another, less divisive figure can coalesce support better than he has.
Sure, Paul Ryan et al. may mysteriously become too busy to campaign with Trump or rescind their support, but they would work with him as president, and I think voters need to send a message that country matters over party. After the election, establishment Republicans need to follow their post-mortem analysis and pivot toward a more inclusive party. Let the best solutions win out, instead of petty swipes and the constant thirst to win the news cycle.
After everything, Trump’s dominating rage rattling this country has been good for the political discourse. It’s a reminder that democracy and civility aren’t a given. America is a constant work in progress that should be cherished and guarded against those who would do our democracy harm.
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