Rending of Garments and Gnashing of Teeth
As the results of the election unfolded, observing the reactions of the disappointed has been especially interesting. There have been many – some more appropriate than others – but the reactions that caught my attention were the rending of garments and gnashing of teeth.
Let’s be sure we know what I am writing about today by excluding what I am not writing about.
Few can have been more disappointed than President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
No two-term president in history tried to choose his successor more zealously than President Obama.
There are few people in history who have tried harder and longer to become President than Secretary Clinton.
Both have ample and understandable reason for disappointment yet both accepted defeat with extraordinary grace. Their speeches were flawless.
President-elect Trump, not known for either grace or class, also delivered a speech to his followers at 3:15 on Wednesday morning that struck all of the right notes. Of course, he does not exactly qualify as disappointed.
This story is not about any of them or, indeed, about any of those — of whichever political stripe — who are dusting themselves off after a tough and ugly campaign and deciding how to fix whatever they think is broken.
It is about the others.
On Wednesday, a teacher at an upscale private school in Northwest Washington DC found herself surrounded by enraged mothers clutching their multi-adjective lattés and shouting, “what will you tell the children?”
A trainer located not far from that school emailed his customers, “Hello everyone! In light of this year’s presidential election, I’m offering stress free workouts tomorrow and Friday. No cost to you, all I’m asking for is a donation to…”
“Thankfully I don’t have to explain to her what happened, because she is 2 years old,” posted another mother on social media.
There has been rioting in several cities including car burnings and chants of “Not Our President.”
To be fair, we do not get to answer the contra factual question, “what if the election had gone the other way.” It is entirely possible that the responses from the Trump supporters would have been equally bad if he had lost.
Apparently, it has occurred to none of these people that there is an easy answer. We held an election for the 58th time in our history and, as has happened all 57 times before, a candidate won and another lost. It is entirely reasonable to wonder – lament even – why it happened but entirely unreasonable to wonder or lament that it happened.
The “oh poor me” response and the related “don’t you know how this makes me feel” question seem at least as narcissistic as the despised president-elect.
Surprise could be a factor in their responses but this election should not have been a surprise. I got it wrong and so did almost everyone else but that is more because we were stupid than because we were ambushed. The signs should have been clear.
In the 2008 election, the Democrats under the leadership of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi increased their majority from 236 to 257 seats while the Republicans lost the same 21 seats declining from 199 to 178. In the same year the Democrats, under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, gained eight seats from a 49-49 tie. President Obama began his first term with 365 electoral votes to 173 won by John McCain.
In the 2016 election, as President Obama completes his two terms, the Republicans, under the leadership of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have retained the majority in the Senate with 51 or 52 seats to the Democrats’ 48 or 49 (Louisiana December runoff outcome to be determined). In the House, under the leadership of Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republicans will hold 238 seats to the Democrats 193. President Trump will have won at least 279 electoral votes to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 228. There remain 38 to be determined.
What does it tell us when a party loses 64 House seats, at least eight Senate seats and perhaps as many as 137 electoral votes during a two-term presidency?
Something was headed in the wrong direction and it did not all happen last Tuesday.
Here is the text of a social media post that is pin balling around the Internet.
“When all the non-racist, non-misogynist, non-homophobic, non-bigoted, everyday ordinary people get so sick of you calling them racists, misogynists, homophobes, and bigots that they go out and vote against your candidate, do you:
A. Reevaluate your personal conduct and strategy of convincing people to share your politics?
B. Call them racists, misogynists, homophobes, and bigots and yell at them even more?
According to most of my timeline, you chose B. and that’s exactly why your candidate lost.”
It was not the first thing I saw this morning. This was: A Closeted SF Conservative.
And here is the email I sent to my son’s family along with it: “The closed mindedness and sense of entitlement on display by the soreheads who created the reason for their defeat and then suffered the very defeat they created is breathtaking. The demonstrations are a visible example but there are many others less visible but more pernicious. In a sharp reversal of roles the tree is uprooting itself to stand closer to the apple. Great job Willy.”
I don’t like Donald Trump and I did not vote for him but Washington has done this to itself and it deserves what it gets.
It was not a win for Republicans over Democrats because Donald Trump is not even a Republican. It was a win for those being ripped off over those who are doing so. Calling them racists, misogynists, homophobes and bigots is an unlikely winning strategy.