posted by gyma
OK, I'm desperate to find something, anything, to boost my spirits, and this has done the trick:
1. Most Americans Did Not Want Donald Trump to be President
Trump ran second in the popular vote at 47.5 percent as of Wednesday morning, a number that actually could tick down as the last votes trickle in. Moreover, the exit polls found 60 percent of voters held an “unfavorable” opinion of Trump. About one in five of his own voters viewed him as unqualified and lacking the temperament to be president. Most of America is not happy this morning.
Granted, he won “100 percent of the presidency,” as George Will said 16 years ago when George W. Bush won with a similar amount while losing the popular vote, and Trump can pursue his agenda without having earned a mandate. But liberals can press on knowing that a majority of the country voted against Trump’s platform, and another chunk had to hold their noses while voting for him.
After the 1992 election and Bill Clinton’s plurality victory, Republican Senate minority leader Bob Dole ungraciously congratulated him by saying: “57 percent of the Americans who voted in the presidential election voted against Bill Clinton, and I intend to represent that majority on the floor of the U.S. Senate.” Democrats may not choose to be so blunt, but that fighting spirit cramped Clinton’s legislative agenda and helped Dole’s party take the Congress two years later.
2. Most Americans Did Not Support Trump’s Signature Proposal
Despite running on a crackdown against illegal immigration, only 25 percent of voters in the exit polls support deportation of undocumented immigrants, while 70 percent support legalization. And only 41 percent support a border wall, versus 54 percent who oppose.
Other questions show a nation evenly divided ideologically. Exit polls depicted an electorate 26 percent of which was liberal, 39 percent moderate (a group that actually leaned left, as Clinton won them, 52-41) and 35 percent conservative. Forty-eight percent thought Obamacare was either “about right” or “didn’t go far enough,” while 47 percent said it “went too far.” Forty-five percent want the next president to “continue Barack Obama’s policies” or “be more liberal,” and 48 percent want the next president to be more conservative. The battles over the ideological direction of the nation are far from lost.
And wins with ballot initiatives at the state level—including minimum wage increases in four states, gun restrictions in California and defeat of an anti-solar power measure in Florida—show that progressives still can triumph in the battle of ideas. Trump has not won the ideological argument.
3. Democrats Have Throttled a Republican President Before
After George W. Bush finally won a popular-vote majority in 2004, regaining full Republican control of Congress in the process, he swaggered back to Washington and said, “I earned capital in this campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.” He pledged to add private accounts to Social Security and simplify the tax code.
He failed. Social Security reform quickly hit a brick wall. Progressive activists turned public opinion against the measure buttressing a united Democratic opposition that proved stronger than its reduced numbers might have suggested. His political capital sapped, Bush’s pleas to make his temporary tax cuts permanent also went unanswered, allowing Obama to repeal the heart of his tax cuts at the end of 2012. Republicans lost control of Congress in 2006, and Bush’s second term was bereft of significant legislative wins.
The lesson? When you organize and pick the right battles, it doesn’t matter if you control the White House or Congress. A majority of public opinion can mean more than a majority in Congress.
4. The Presidential Election Pendulum Can Swing Fast
In 1976, Jimmy Carter, an outsider populist with little governing experience, seemed to usher in a new Democratic Era after the Nixon-Ford years. But his popularity tanked thanks to his ill-fated crusade for energy independence, runaway inflation and the protracted Iran hostage crisis. Carter, despite banking several underappreciated policy wins, proved to be, politically speaking, a temporary four-year road bump en route to a multi-decade conservative era personified by Ronald Reagan, who trounced Carter in 1980.
Less well-remembered is the brief presidency of Benjamin Harrison, who defeated incumbent President Grover Cleveland in 1888. Like Trump, Harrison lost the popular vote, winning only 47.8 percent. Like Trump, he campaigned on protectionist trade policies. But when Harrison put those policies into effect, there was public backlash against the higher prices that resulted from them. (He was also seen as too close to banks and callous about rising labor strife, which fed the creation of a new Populist Party that siphoned off Republican votes.) Cleveland came roaring back in 1892, picking up five more states and defeating Harrison by 3 percentage points nationally.
Similarly, in 1964, some thought that the drubbing of Barry Goldwater in the presidential election would bury the Republican Party and with it American conservatism. But four years later, Richard Nixon seized the White House, slamming the brakes on Great Society liberalism.
And of course, the election of Barack Obama came with the hope he would be the second coming of FDR, sparking a liberal political realignment for a generation. And despite Trump’s victory, that hope is not yet dashed, especially because…
5. Winning In 2020 Is More Important Than Winning In 2016
No one wishes for the global economy to crumble or for the world to be embroiled in deadly international crises. But it’s not that hard to imagine a Trump presidency going off the rails without any Democratic assistance. And that would cause enormous political consequences.
If Trump manages to drag down the entire Republican Party with him over the next four years, Democrats might be able to snag the biggest political prize of all in the 2020 elections: majority control of state legislative chambers — just in time for the congressional redistricting process that will follow the 2020 Census.
That last one, #5, is probably the most important thing to remember. I seriously doubt Clinton (or any Democrat) could have been elected in 2020 after 4 long years of continued obstructionism and investigations. So long term, it will be much better for us if we start getting organized now and plan for the future as if our lives depended on it.
And they do.