There’s Got To Be A Morning After If We Can Hold On Through The Night

It was sometime around 8:30PM or so when the people around me at my liveblogging last night [1] started getting depressed about Trump’s victory and its implications.  Looking at the difference between the polling and results, it appears that there are likely going to be some pollsters and pundits who will be dusting off their resumes and looking for a different set of employment after critical failures in the Midwest and Pennsylvania ballooned into a doomsday scenario for Democrats in both the Senate and Presidential election, even leading to a defeat in one of Maine’s congressional districts and a too-close-to-call vote in Minnesota (!).  So, while I’m still tired after having stayed up too long to enjoy the political competition, which I view with the enjoyment of a close and compelling Super Bowl, albeit one with slightly higher stakes, I figured it would be worthwhile to continue my tradition of election post-mortems with some commentary this morning [2].

What are some takeaways that we can get from this election in the larger sense?  For me, the real story of this particular election cycle and one that I have deeply mixed feelings about [3], is the rising popularity of populism.  Being a well-educated person with a profound mistrust for anti-intellectual mobs, I do not consider myself to be an ideal populist.  That said, for several years, at least since 2010, it has been pretty clear to me that there has been a rising tide of populism on both the right and the left in the United States, one strong enough to overturn the loyalty of working class whites to the Democrats in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota, and even rural Maine.  For better or worse, Trump was able to capitalize on a sense of malaise among uneducated white voters tired of elites gaming the systems of politics, business, and culture and destroying the middle ground where people of average intelligence could find positions of responsibility, dignity, and decency within the social and economic world.  And, despite my own higher educational attainments, this is a struggle I identify with very strongly myself, and one which has ominous implications for our own society, just as it has for many others.  I was born in Pennsylvania to a working class family of small farmers and union-affiliated bus drivers, after all, and I have no reason to reject or minimize my humble origins.

I don’t honestly know what Trump can do to arrest the larger trends in our society that are leading to rising inequality and diminishing opportunity.  I do know that with Republican majorities in the Senate and House, the likelihood of being able to pick a Supreme Court justice or two, as well as Trump presidency, that Trump is going to have the chance to have a dynamic first 100 days to set the tone for his presidency.  I don’t think anyone, perhaps even President-elect Trump himself, is fully aware of what he is going to do or be able to do in office, but the rest of us will wait and see what results from it.  It does appear, for one, that a decisive element of this election is the Electoral College.  Every four years, it seems, people have to be reminded that it is not a majority or plurality of voters, but a majority of voters, that elects the president of the United States.  In 1860, for example, Lincoln won a decisive election in the electoral college because of the states he won, and had he won the same states, he would have won even if all of the candidates would have been united against him.  Most of the time there is a match between the winner of the popular and electoral vote, but this is not always the case.  It is most notably not the case where there tend to be factors that depress the vote of some people in states that are not competitive, like Southern states in the years of the “solid South” or the recent bi-coastal dominance of Democrats.  Elections tend to be won in certain battleground states, even if the identity of those states (like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania) can sometimes be a surprise from election to election.

So, I would like to state here that I am no particular partisan of either candidate.  I am not filled with either apocalyptic dread or messianic hope about the outcomes of this last election.  I remain as I was before, a deeply ambivalent person in a deeply divided nation, and as I see no tendency towards national repentance, I do not see any election as providing any sort of glorious and lasting success for my country.  At least judging by my e-mails, and not by the articles online, today appears to be a ho-hum day where there are no reports on the changes to health care or anything else as a result of the election.  Perhaps it will take some time for such articles to appear in the technology writings that I receive, or perhaps such thoughts will not appear at all until and unless there are changes in the law after the next Congress sits.  I believe none of us can expect to be bored by the new American president, whatever else we may think about him.  It is my belief that those who view his election as some kind of evidence of beneficent divine providence will likely have plenty of time to regret their enthusiasm, but I do not think we are likely to be bored by him or find his behavior entirely predictable.  What’s life without a little bit of risk and danger, though?

[1] https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/liveblogging-the-2016-general-election/

[2] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/a-nation-gets-the-government-it-deserves/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/07/04/landslide/

[3] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/a-wave-of-populism/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/04/12/double-wide-single-minded/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/populism-has-two-faces/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/09/28/we-may-make-it-through-the-war-if-we-make-it-through-the-night/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2016/01/13/book-review-how-to-win-an-election/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/book-review-what-works/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/10/28/phony-populist-in-chief/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/gravy-train/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, History, Musings and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to There’s Got To Be A Morning After If We Can Hold On Through The Night

  1. Don Koilpillai says:

    Hello brother,
    You have talked about God’s providence and intervention before. Why is that not attributed to who God appoints as kings and leaders of a nation? Let us give God the glory for making His will known. This is one election I can clearly see the Hand of God.
    Blessings,
    Don.

    • Don,

      You’re right, I have talked about God’s providence in elections. In writing about this subject, I was hoping that my general thoughts on divine providence would be known and I would not have to engage in anything that would sound like bragging. After all, I know a lot of people who were very depressed about the election and who are quite angry about it, and it is not my wish to antagonize others whom I would expect and wish to submit to the righteous judgments of God.

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