Some Thoughts About Last Night
For the first time in a very, very long time, I miss having a blog of my own - I’m sure that feeling will pass. But in the meantime, I need to vent a little bit.
First, let me say this: I am not a Democrat. I’m registered as an independent (or as we call it in California “Decline to State”). I am a center-left libertarian (I used to joke that sometime around 2005/2006 that I went to bed a center-right libertarian and woke up a center-left libertarian). I don’t believe that government is inherently good or evil, it is simply a tool we use to organize society. It can be used for good things and it can be used for bad things. As an analogy, I see government as a log, resting on a fulcrum - that fulcrum is liberty, shift the log too much to one side and you have tyranny, shift it too much the other way and you have anarchy (or what Hamilton called license). The trick is to balance the log in a way that provides the most liberty for everyone.
That part out of the way, we need to talk about last night. Hillary Clinton lost the electoral college while winning the popular vote. Of course, she did so while winning fewer votes than Mitt Romney (1.5 million more votes than Clinton) or John McCain (half a million more votes than Clinton); and she only has something like 400,000 more votes than John Kerry. A lot of people will try to say that she ran a good campaign, but sorry, no. No she did not. Turn out was the lowest since 2000. By definition, if you can’t get voters to the polls, you did not run a good campaign. She managed to lose three states that haven’t voted for Republicans since the 1980’s (Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan).
The fact of the matter is, Hillary Clinton was never a very good politician. In 2008, everyone assumed that she would be the nominee, and then she lost to a guy that most had never heard of. In 2016, Bernie Sanders managed to challenge her more than he should have. She’s been in the public eye for 25 years, and in that time has managed to develop fairly high unfavorability ratings. And those high unfavorability ratings probably played a role in the low turnout (Turmp and equally bad unfavorability ratings, which explains why he didn’t win the popular vote). I suspect, in the coming weeks, we are going to hear from some segments of voters (and non-voters) that the were ready for a woman in the Oval Office, but just “not that woman.”
I am not looking forward to a Trump presidency. And I’m not sure many people are - one of the numbers from last night’s exit polls that stuck with me is that 60% of voters believe Trump is unqualified for the office and temperamentally unfit for the office. That is utterly astounding to think about. Through out the campaign he showed repeatedly that he has no understanding of how our system of government works. I think these next couple of years could be disastrous. But the more I let it sink in, the more I am inclined to believe that we will survive and eventually thrive.
Lastly, a thought on the Supreme Court. I know that the reactionary wing of the conservative movement wants to overturn a lot of precedent, not just Roe v. Wade and not just Obergefell v. Hodges. But I suspect that they will have a harder time doing so than they think. Assuming Trump appoints Scalia’s replacement, the balance of the Court won’t change (second level assumption: Trump actually appoints someone who turns out to be conservative). For things to change, one of Kennedy, Breyer, or Ginsberg will have to leave office. And even then, if a case came up trying to reverse the constitutional right to privacyI’m not sure Chief Justice Roberts will have the testicular fortitude to actually go through with it. Say what you will about Roberts, but he does seem to care about the image and integrity of the Supreme Court - and I can see him realizing that overturning that much precedent (this would include things like the right to contraception, allowing sodomy laws back on the books, and countless other things) would be too damaging for the Court.
Maybe I am simply being too optimistic, but I am going to keep my faith in the idea that Americans are still better than this, and that we will find a way to keep working toward that more perfect union.