It’s the first Friday since the election. What a week!
While far from being a Trump supporter, I admit that it was easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm. Trump won—and he didn’t win by a narrow margin, either. Even now, the electoral votes aren’t finished coming in, and neither is the popular vote. But by the electoral vote alone, he’s expected to win Michigan—that would bring his final tally up to an expected 305. Meanwhile, the Republicans have maintained control of the House, the Senate, most state governorships, and a plethora of state legislatures. This is called a mandate. The question on everyone’s minds now is, what next?
But before that, a brief summary of the election itself is worth covering. Hillary is slated to win the popular vote by a slim four hundred thousand votes. While not exactly common, winning the electoral college without the popular vote is hardly unheard of. The election of 2000 is the most recent example, with George W. Bush having carried 271 votes of the college, 30 states, and falling about four hundred thousand popular votes behind Al Gore. That said, 2000’s election was much closer in the ways that actually mattered. The entire country wasn’t effectively swept Red in the wake of its new president elect the way it was this week.
The polls were wrong. I had suggested that this might be the case earlier, but it was only very late into the election cycle (mostly just the last month or so) where I had serious doubts about the polling data. The Israeli elections of 2015 and the Brexit referendum earlier this year both served as precedents for wildly inaccurate polling data. I think this can be chocked up to something very simple: the media has finally gotten completely full of itself and embraced an image of propaganda past any semblance of reality. I’ll get more into this later, but the media’s absolutely embarrassing gaffs and tantrums in this election cycle alone was enough, I think, to erase whatever credibility they had left for a majority of Americans. It isn’t that they were manipulated by a globalist cabal, for the most part. It’s simply that everyone in the media is liberal, and all they hear are liberal opinions. They’re completely out of touch.
And Trump won without a significant ground-game in most states. He was himself the ground game for most of the campaign, travelling around the country and giving speeches, holding rallies, and visiting people nonstop. It’s a wonder the guy even had time to sleep. But this sort of campaigning is an extremely unique case; Trump has been a public figure for thirty years now, across a variety of fields and disciplines. He’s a popular figure in entertainment, where most of the public was already familiar with his face and attitude. But he’s also an established real estate businessman, giving him the credence and business levity that most celebrities utterly lack. Some actors have flirted with presidency now—mostly out of spite now that their own disastrous candidate has lost—but where they see Trump’s blowhardiness and uncouth veneer simply as evidence of the shallow and vapid exterior of an entertainer, they themselves lack both the shrewdness for business as well as the credentials of success that the background implies. People like Ron Pearlman have made tons of money off of Hollywood alone, earning a paycheck for his ability to make faces on screen and recite lines from a script. Trump’s actually employed thousands of people, redeveloped land in the middle of cities, and serviced the community in tangible, economic ways. And he’s made faces on screen and recited lines from a script.
The point is that Trump’s appeal was in more than his entertainment experience, and that his sort of candidate is not likely to come around again any time soon. Whatever future candidates hope to learn from Trump’s strategy this election cycle must be considered only in its context. Most candidates will be utterly unable to win with the sort of rhetoric and recklessness that Trump displayed this season.
So. Where do we go from here? What can we look forward to in the coming years of the Trump administration? Well, we’ll start with the biggest losers this cycle: the Democratic party.
The Democrats Are In Complete Disarray
The Democratic party is in disarray. Complete panic mode. They went all in propping up Hillary Clinton. This was the second time that the Clinton machine was routed—2008, remember, resulted in a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Chicago candidate and comparatively young upstart Barack Obama. Eight years later, it was her turn—but the skeletons in her closet were not going to be stuffed back inside after years of their rotting stench making it to the voter’s noses. But voters seemed willing to commit to her in spite of it all—until the emails, and the Foundation, and the weird cultish stuff that was popping up. And meanwhile, under her direct predecessor, their cities were burned down fueled by racist anti-White, anti-cop rhetoric while the media delusionally believed that they were still relevant.
And now they’ve lost. Again. This time, perhaps, for real. Clinton and her direct staff are under multiple investigations by the FBI, and with the coming change in administration, there is every reason to believe that indictment is incoming. The classified emails and the private server are one thing, but the dirt on the Foundation that’s coming out is worse than career-ending. It implicates half of the Democratic party’s establishment, if not the whole thing. And that’s not even getting into the growing probability of some of the more vile things coming out of the leaked Podesta emails coming to light.
But first things first. Clinton’s political career is done. She could probably try for another election bid in 2020, but given that she’ll be running against an incumbent, I don’t think she’d be very successful—and that’s in addition to being the oldest candidate to ever run for office (she’d be 73 by then, assuming some mysterious illness or alien lifeform living in her lungs doesn’t get to her first). But her age isn’t really the reason for the end of their career—they gambled everything on this election and they have lost it all.
Hillary’s campaign ran on a number of things: a) trashing her opposition, b) dismissing every bit of negative press as a right-wing conspiracy, and c) trying to convince America that she would bring us together… somehow. The second of these points made her look like a fool; for one thing, Americans didn’t trust her in the first place, no matter what she said about her scandals. They remember her husband’s presidency, and while generally looked upon fondly, the lies and scandals during his administration are still remembered today. Similarly, Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State resulted in some of the biggest news stories of the Obama administration—the bombing of Libya and death of Omar Ghaddafi, and the later destruction of the US consulate in Benghazi among them. Meanwhile, allegations of arms-running through the failed state of Libya, weapons that were en route to rebels in Syria, as well as her blatant lies about the supposed reasons that Benghazi was attacked, are still open wounds on America’s conscience. And that isn’t even getting into the real meat of her various scandals.
So we all knew that she was a liar, which made the other two points mentioned above all the more dysfunctional. Her tendency to attack candidates and then speak of America’s division fell well short of the sort of political rhetoric the left had survived on for the past eight years. When she tried to trash Trump or Sanders, she was attacking not only the candidates but also the people behind the candidates—the millions who supported them, donated to them, went to their rallies, and believed in their messages. And she lacked the tact to be able to call millions of people bigots, racists, xenophobes, and deplorables without sounding completely dishonest when she’d make appeals toward American unity. And, of course, now that she’s lost, the unsubtle jabs at white America coming from the left only fuel the feeling of dishonesty in her words—after all, she only lost because America just can’t handle the thought of a woman president. Because we’re all angry white men who want our women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Clearly.
In addition to Hillary’s misguided tactics, the Clintons’ political career ends with their Foundation as well. I’ll get into the investigation later, but for now, it’s important to look at how the Foundation itself functioned. The two of them received exorbitant fees for speeches given to heads of major corporations, banks, and foreign interests—speaking fees numbering in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Foundation would receive millions in donations from foreign governments, as well as astronomical sums of money from private businesses. With the Clintons lacking now any political power, and with their having tarnished many of their direct contacts in the government with their endless scandals, is anyone willing to give the Clinton Foundation the sort of money and influence that they had while Hillary was Secretary of State? How many donations were done in the last four years under the presumption that she’d be president in 2017? How many donors are now frothing at the mouth in rage for being lied to by an incompetent who couldn’t even win against Donald Trump? We may never know.
Secondly, the Democratic party itself has lost an enormous amount of credibility. It became public some months ago that the DNC was already in the bag for Hillary prior to the convention even taking place, despite senator Sanders performing well enough to make the Democratic primaries rather entertaining. A party supposedly founded on values of working-class citizens and the disadvantaged actively manipulated the vote to elect someone whose entire life for the past thirty years has been about shmoozing with the New York elite; or, at least, that is when she wasn’t being bought off by Wall Street or Russian uranium companies. And that was all while she ran against an elderly senator from Vermont whose awful platform of socialism was at least honest in its depiction of what many on the left actually want.
If rigging a convention isn’t enough for the average Democrat voter to lose confidence in their party, then what about how dreadfully the party misjudged the American people? Hillary takes most of the blame for her direct statements regarding some sort of vague, shadowy “implicit bias” in American whites and males, but she was merely repeating one of the staples of the Democratic party’s playbook. Obama won on the same terms: appeal to the young, appeal to the minorities, and get elected on those blocks. Ignore anyone who is white and doesn’t believe in things like unprovable racial biases. The Democrats believed that they had, as Obama had laid out in 2008, fundamentally changed America to such an extent that Americans would be overeager in electing anyone they chose. And to some degree, Obama was successful in his endeavor—America is more deeply divided than ever, between disenfranchised middle-class men and women, clueless college students and urbanite hipsters, snobbish and disconnected liberal elites, and lower-income inner-city blacks. It’s divided across racial lines and ethnic lines in ways that run antithetical to underlying premises of the country’s founding documents. But it hasn’t changed in one fundamental aspect: most Americans still want to be American. Most Americans are tired of being called racist when they can recognize that race is not the foremost indicator of merit, character, or ability. Most Americans want to be left the hell alone by government and by foreign interests. Most Americans want the culture of America to remain one that espouses equal justice under the law, liberty in social and political affairs, and responsibility in personal actions. And most Americans have realized now that a majority of the Democratic party’s policies run against all of these things.
This election has proven to many Democrats exactly how far from the founding principles their party has strayed. For some, this only hardens their resolve and galvanizes the leftist core. For others, many others, I think, it means a wake-up call.
The Republican Party Divide
This brings us to the GOP. There are a couple of things happening with regard to their organizational structure, in addition to whatever insinuations are flying around regarding specific members of congress. Of course, these are all just my predictions, and given Trump’s campaign, I think it’s fair to say that anything could happen at this point.
Trump generated the appeal of a scorched earth policy against the establishment GOP. It was probably the chief thing that bolstered his early primary triumphs; his animosity was directed at the media, at the Democratic elite, at the Republican establishment, at the entire system. Americans respond well to this—romantic notions of rebellion against tyranny are in our blood. It’s our nation’s DNA. And in their own respects, even liberals tend to embrace it—the Sanders surge, Obama’s ’08 election, and even the supposed-grassroots movements like Occupy Wallstreet and Black Lives Matter each grappled with perceived systems of oppression. The attitude isn’t really the problem; they’re just chronic misdiagnoses of the issues at hand. Trump rides on the same attitude.
The problem, as with any movement fueled by the destructive urge, is that the furor is too easily misdirected. Paul Ryan, for instance, has been under fire by the hardcore Trumpsters since early this year, and calls for his replacement in the House have been ongoing despite his support and endorsement of Trump. Although he did pull back some of his endorsement over the course of Trump’s campaign—in particular over the comments that came out on a ten-year-old tape of him with a hot mic—he never completely renounced it nor denied that he was going to vote for Trump in the general election. While hardly one of their own, Ryan nonetheless tried to stay as true to his conscience as he could. Meanwhile, people like Sean Hannity in the media actively call for Ryan to be out of a job.
That’s not to say that there isn’t reason to be pissed at these characters. Both Ryan and senate majority leader Mitch McConnell were woefully ill-equipped to handle the last several years of Obama’s presidency. They did not hold fast when they could have, and they made bad decisions in the face of bad circumstances. I understand that trying to play hardball with an administration that lies and changes its mind on every deal you attempt to garner is difficult, and that it’s nearly impossible when the entire corporate media shills on the administration’s behalf. But Ryan’s inability to get the Republicans in the House to unify, his inability to secure a reasonable budget, and McConnell’s completely weak-willed proclamations of strength that he immediately backed off at the moment of trial are all inexcusable. Against a tough president, we needed strong leaders. Instead we got these guys.
Now, the GOP establishment isn’t just going to go away overnight. I don’t think it’s even going to go away, really. They’ve lost some power but, begrudgingly, many of them came around to supporting Trump in the end. This doesn’t make them part of Trump’s core group, though, and everyone knows it. The GOP has divided itself along such lines—those that supported Trump heavily, his core, and those that were part of the establishment; these are the new and old wings of the Republican party, if you will.
To what extent this divide will weaken the party is anyone’s guess. Trump flirted with funding super-PACs against certain House and senate members before he’d even won the general election, and his less-than-enthusiastic support for people like Ryan during his own reelection campaign are somewhat unprecedented. The question is whether this behavior of purging his own party will seriously vamp up, as the more destrata-prone members of his core group are hoping for, or if he’ll swing a bit more moderate in the hopes of unifying the party and the rest of America. Then again, maybe the judgement to make has to do with whether healing this particular rift IS good for America. Even I’m not so sure anymore.
In any case, the establishment will survive in some form or other. All of this said, however, I think hopes for an insurmountable divide in the party, hopes for the creation of a new party out of the remains of a Trumpian GOP, are misplaced. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I don’t think the ‘old wing’ of the GOP has the guts or the interest in creating a new party, and it’s clear by Trump’s victory that Trump and his support team don’t have to. They will, if things remain as they are presently, drag the GOP to the left.
The question, however, is how far to the left has the GOP already been dragged? How far left has America been dragged? The murder of the unborn has been legalized and, in fact, accepted as a politically and socially viable alternative to the fear of a ‘Religious-Right’; divorce and the abasement of the concept of marriage are commonplace, and the intentionally misleading ambiguity of biological facts have led to conversations about letting men into women’s restrooms. To call the present social landscape absurd is an understatement. Duchamp was absurd, and all he did was call a public toilet a piece of artwork. This is madness.
And the GOP was supposed to be the stalwart against leftist encroachment in the legislative sphere. Instead, it has capitulated at every turn. It has let itself be dragged left. It has embraced the left. It has accepted the premises of their arguments and then found, to its dismay, that it cannot defend its own values if it tries to argue within the left’s moral and metaphysical framework. And when it hasn’t done that, it’s been even worse; it has not even been willing to buckle down on the notion conservatism at all. It appeals instead to practicality and pretends like the American people are all basically liberal leftists at heart. “Let’s not try to overturn Roe v Wade,” the establishment tells its constituency, “just be glad that only one in four children is killed by their mothers, rather than one in three.” And by refusing to go after such legislation out of fear of political suicide, the GOP establishment betrays its values. In a party like the GOP, where values are exactly what distinguish it from its opponent, that is as much a betrayal as a private email server carrying classified material, open to attacks by foreign intelligence agencies.
The nation has painted itself red this week. Trump is not a wake-up call to the establishment, although they may like to believe that it is. Trump’s election is a sign that the America is still America, that America does not like what the establishment capitulated on, does not want to hear their excuses, and is tired of pretending that reality isn’t real. But the establishment in the Republican party will not hear this. They play it safe and, as a result, America has suffered for two consecutive generations. Trump is something new, despite his age and despite his playbook. He was elected on the wave of a new media and a new movement, both of which are real. Only time will tell how this unfolds for us.
The Ongoing FBI Investigations and the Media
On a more immediate note, there is still the question of the FBI investigations pertaining to Hillary Clinton and her aids. Namely, what will come of these investigations, what will be revealed to the public, will prosecution be sought, and how will president-elect Trump handle the situation after his promises?
There are a couple of major investigations ongoing. The two big ones pertain to the corruption charges surrounding the Clinton Foundation, and the investigation into Hillary’s private email server and the unsecured transference of classified material during her tenure as Secretary of State. Although FBI Director James Comey came out and said that he did not recommend prosecution back in July, it is important to note that, even if he had, the current DOJ head Loretta Lynch would not have prosecuted anyway. It was a hit to the man’s integrity, but Comey isn’t stupid. And as the joke goes, at least he still knows where his family is.
Now, Trump is going to select a new head for the Department of Justice. And he’ll probably select one willing to pursue prosecution pursuant to the FBI investigations, too. The problem is that the election politicized the investigations; Clinton, who never should have been eligible to run in the first place, has already been made into an icon, and likewise with Trump. Any prosecution would be interpreted as an affront to democracy, wherein the winning candidate would be prosecuting the loser—something that’s a fairly regular occurrence in third world so-called republics. Of course, prosecution would be the natural result of the investigations, given what Comey already stated on the matter, but that doesn’t matter in today’s climate.
Most of Hillary’s supporters did not even listen to Comey’s initial statement, where he explained that she had been extremely careless (because calling her behavior ‘reckless’ is a legal term) and that similar behavior would have resulted in immediate fines and firing if an employee of the FBI or any other government bureau had done so, as well as likely indictment. He said outright that Clinton had lied almost every step of the way, that there were missing emails she had deleted after being served a federal subpoena, and that there was no way to tell the extent to which the information she kept on that server was hacked by foreign parties. As it turns out, FBI investigators have reason to believe that her server was hacked by five different foreign intelligence agencies, and who knows how many independent hackers. It’s clear that her prosecution did not go forth not because of a lack of evidence, but because of political maneuvering. She’s above the law.
Or at least, she was. I’m of the opinion that justice should be served no matter what. Partly to help reinvigorate the sense that the Clintons and other elites are not above the law, but also because faith in the system breaks down when the impression exists that people so present in the public eye are allowed to do basically anything they want without consequence. Clinton herself has said during the debates that keeping the email server and setting it up were mistakes and she takes full responsibility for that. Well, full responsibility entails a trial before a grand jury and prosecution by the DOJ. Why hasn’t that happened? How can she say she takes responsibility for her actions when the consequences of them have not played out?
On the other hand, the loudest segment of the left might just actually lose their minds if prosecution went forward. They either do not understand or are not adequately cued in as to the extent of her corruption—not merely with the server scandal, but her Foundation as well. Prosecution takes on the aspect of a partisan witch-hunt due in part to how badly the rhetoric flew this election season, despite how the justice system is supposed to be an unaffiliated and nonpolitical structure through which the law is preserved. Of course, the left has no use for the law, so naturally they’ve pushed agendas aiming to get rid of it.
But that’s partly the media’s fault. The media spun it around such that Comey’s neglect to recommend prosecution became the headline, instead of Hillary’s complete and utter dishonesty and corruption. Hollywood socialites played along every step of the way, flabbergasted over things Trump said about women but unable or unwilling to comment on the lives and secrets lost to our enemies due to Hillary’s “extreme carelessness”. And that, combined with constant comparisons of Trump to Hitler and the extreme fearmongering targeting minorities played into this disgusting swell of support behind the most corrupt candidate in the history of the office. The journalists, reporters, editors, anchors, and managers at so many of these news establishments really destroyed themselves with their shilling this time, and it’ll be a while before they can live down the sheer destruction of their credibility.
It’s hard to tell exactly what the future holds for any of this stuff. The left, I think, is going to get more violent, but it was going to get more violent anyway. I think Trump’s administration, coupled with a Republican congress, will be more willing and able to combat the riots and acts of domestic terrorism where they crop up, and I think this action will be tearfully decried as the beginnings of a police state like they were under Bush, but public faith in the rule of law will be maintained. I think also that the entertainment and media industries will have drastic reorganization, but only in the short-term. They intrinsically lean left, and undoing that leaning will take more than a single election to reverse. However, I don’t think some of these outlets can stomach losing upwards of ninety percent of their readership base (a la the New York Times) without taking action. I think that Trump’s presidency will be a moderately okay one, better than the disaster that he’s proceeding but, hopefully, not as good as whomever comes afterward. I think he’ll be strong in his foreign policy, but I think his present economic plans will prolong the present malaise that began in 2008 and which has stagnated ever since. I think he’ll drag the GOP left in ways that will not be reversible, continuing the fifty-some year strong trend of the party, which means that we have to hold out longer for the conservative return—another Goldwater or Reagan, if you will. And most importantly, perhaps, I think that Trump’s presidency will make people more willing to speak out against political correctness that’s suffocating America’s speech, which, once removed, will foster and grow the sort of culture needed to combat the virulent inroads into American culture that the left has forged in the past eight years. I don’t think it’s enough to really turn the tide, but at the very least, I think it’s the beginning. And everything has to start somewhere.