Just one month before the nation breathes a collective sigh
Nov. 9, 2016 – Finally, it’s over. After nearly two years of one of the most shameful and sleaziest presidential campaigns in history, the nation can breathe a collective sigh of relief.
The Republican Party, willing to risk the country’s future and global position instead of standing up to its self-serving presidential candidate, is in shambles. Unlike 2012, the post-mortem of what was wrong then cannot be ignored now. The sea of blue that flooded the nation yesterday is more than a warning: it is a death knell for the Party of Red that has lost its very soul.
Mitch McConnell, whose legacy as leader of the Senate will be darkened by his obstructionism and racism, has been dethroned. Fed up with McConnell’s refusal to allow a confirmation hearing that would fix a fractured Supreme Court, voters resoundingly gave him and party hacks in the Senate the boot and returned control to Democrats.
The country’s highest court may be on the mend.
The contest in the lower chamber – the House of Representatives – is still too close to call a day after the election. But Republicans’ 30-seat majority is clearly in danger, and Democrats have claimed victory in at least biting a big chunk out of the GOP’s margin of majority status.
And in one of the most decisive votes in election history – political theorists don’t call them landslides anymore – Hillary Clinton will be the next and first woman president of the United States.
And America breathes again.
Little can be said for the president-elect’s opponent, Donald Trump. He, not Mrs. Clinton nor a “rigged” election or “fixed” pre-election polls and a biased media, was his own undoing. Even before Republican Party “elites” enabled Trump’s unlikely climb to nominee status, the New York native of dubious business acumen had begun to insult and alienate the blocks of voters who joined other Americans on Election Day to reject his vision of a paranoid America isolated from the global community and cleansed of what Trump perceived as the lesser of America’s collective brotherhood.
Among them: women, especially strong ones in leadership positions; Mexicans, whom Trump valued only to the extent of how little they could be paid in illegal sweat shops and whose entry in the United States had to be blocked by a wall to be paid for by the Mexican government; and America’s LGBTQ population whose legal victories won with blood, sweat and tears were threatened by a Trump presidency.
And, of course, there were immigrants. Syrian refugees fleeing the violence of their homeland in the Middle East would be turned back by the United States, the very country whose invasion of Iraq in 2003 destabilized the region sufficiently to empower the terrorist group from whom refugees are fleeing.
Muslims and anyone else of their religious faith were, in Trump’s fatal vision, a threat to America’s national security itself. They would have joined other immigrants in mass deportations and, as one GOP officer-holder suggested, even consignment to concentration camps.
African-Americans also stood to suffer immensely under a President Trump. On the campaign trail, Trump said blacks never before had been as “low” as they are now and asked what they had to lose by voting for him. African Americans answered resoundingly yesterday: 98 percent of the black vote went to the Democrat candidate, the highest disproportionate vote in election history.
In an election season of unprecedented bends and gutter lows, editorial endorsements of the Madame President-elect began even before she formally accepted the Democratic nomination in July. But they were accompanied by a new breed of non-endorsements of the Republican nominee. National newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post and state publications in previously red states including Texas and Florida warned readers against a Trump administration.
Even editorial influence and disclosures of Trump’s dubious legal conduct in his failed university and his “charitable” Trump Foundation did not seem to be enough for Americans to say enough was enough.
Until last month and the hyped “October Surprise” of presidential elections. Trump got not one but two surprises within four days of each other. Oct. 3, the New York Times published contents of Trump’s leaked 1995 tax return that showed he lost $918 million, a loss hefty enough to hint that he had dodged paying federal income taxes for nearly two decades. Trump said he was “smart” and business-savvy to pervert tax laws in his favor. Reuters responded with a poll that found nearly two-thirds of likely voters were not impressed.
Enough became enough just four days later, on Oct. 7, when the Washington Post obtained and published an interview Trump gave in 2005 to celeb interviewer Billy Bush. Both the audio and video were graphic, lewd, sexist, obscene and offensive by even the hardest of hard-core bigots. Still burned into America’s collective conscience, the vile content of Trump’s denunciation of women to be grabbed “by the pussy” broke even the most steadfast of Trump die-hards.
Within hours, Trump glossed over his filth as “locker room” good-old-boys talk and did something he’d never done before – he apologized. It was too little too late, and both his defense and apology fell on the deaf ears of a collective nation that had enough.
Today, Nov. 9, it’s finally done. The sense of relief and rescue from a President Trump span and link both ends of the country. And both America and, to a large extent, the world are safer.
Where does Trump go from here? He was reported once as saying Americans “won’t see me again” if he lost the election.
Don’t bet it.
Trump’s maniacal and perverted ego of self-exaggeration and self-satisfaction doesn’t allow for a graceful exit from the public stage. Within days if not hours, Trump will be allowed to call a news conference at which he will likely shame the country for entrusting its fate to a woman whom he hypocritically labeled “Crooked Hillary.” Americans, he will probably say, will get what we deserve. That is the part of Trump’s psyche that deflects personal responsibility and national rejection and shame.
The other part is Trump’s insatiable lust for self-satisfaction. To that end, Trump will probably concoct a scenario in which he is the hero, the one that saved the Republican Party from itself and forced it to reinvent itself as a viable national political entity. He probably will not acknowledge that his party may not be able to salvage the wreckage that he has left in his wake.
In the coming weeks and months, Trump may find himself with legal problems that he wrought by running for president. It is a safe bet that some state and federal prosecutors are reviewing criminal prosecution involving Trump’s fund-raising for his foundation and his business dealings with Cuba in 1998 during a U.S. embargo, a violation of federal law.
Madame President-elect Clinton has much work ahead. Not only must she gain the trust of a sizeable chunk of Americans, but she needs to bring together and heal a deeply fractured and splintered America whose divisions were exploited and deepened by the man she defeated, the man from whom she has rescued the country.
At least for today, it is enough for America that it’s finally over.
Photo: Flickr/Brett Weinstein