The aftermath of Donald Trump’s stunning upset victory has left the American public and both major parties reeling. The Democrats are understandably astounded at losing an election that seemed like a no-brainer and have entered the early stages of some serious soul searching. The Republicans are thrilled to see Hillary Clinton lose but the Trump ascendancy has them questioning what exactly happened to their party and what will remain when Trump is finished with it.
The GOP may not be as thoroughly disappointed with a renegade Trump presidency as they had previously thought. The billionaire president-elect is already rumored to be tapping renowned war hawk John Bolton for Secretary of State and right-wing hyper-partisan Rudy Giuliani as his Attorney General. The notorious big-bank fat-cat Jamie Dimon is allegedly his choice for Secretary of the Treasury. These are familiar and not unwelcome faces to the neo-conservative wing of our politics and if the rumors hold true then those voters who saw Trump as a genuine change agent may be sorely unimpressed by his
rogue’s gallery cabinet roster.
Yet still, Trump’s supporters have demonstrated a consistent capacity to forgive what the pundits and progressives have deemed unforgivable sins so perhaps their patience will persist. And it’s still too early to know who Trump will pick for which roles. Time will tell.
In the meantime, Democrats, and liberals of all stripes, are still coming to grips with reality following a heart-breaking loss to a man they were convinced had no real shot at winning. After months of insulating themselves from any indication that Trump would prevail, after years of slandering anyone who voiced a difference of opinion, and after fielding the worst possible candidate available, the left finds itself in the labyrinthine morass of a political implosion and they have no one to blame but themselves.
They ignored the unconventional wisdom of experts who said the polls were all wrong, and they chose instead to remain enamored of headlines fed to them by an obsolete industry that showed their flawed candidate cruising to an historic victory. They ignored the facts on the ground: the enthusiasm for Trump, the mass activity of his supporters as evidenced in large part by his enormous rallies, and his army of small donors whose numbers dwarfed those few members of the big money syndicate that funneled a colossal war chest to Hillary Clinton’s doomed campaign.
For years the left has abused their party’s position of prominence and hurled an incessant and wide-ranging bevy of small-minded slander at those of us who refused to buy into their cultural Marxism, identity politics, and tired promises of government beneficence and largesse. We’ve been called racists, sexists, homophobes, transphobes, etc., and for years we’ve sat back and taken it with as much poise as can be had by anyone experiencing a constant bombardment of generally unfounded libel. We fought back in the 2010 midterms and again in the 2014 midterms, yet the left continued with their tactics of extreme political correctness, righteous indignation, name calling, and retreat into echo chambers that provided no shortage of confirmation bias.
They didn’t see the signs that were right in front of their faces. They didn’t see the trends leading away from their brand of vitriolic rhetoric and out of touch policy designs. They ignored those in their own ranks like Michael Moore who predicted Trump’s triumph and allowed themselves to be blinded by a supreme arrogance which had root in President Obama’s twin landslide victories. They came to believe that winning two elections was the same as winning the battle of ideas once and for all. They allowed themselves to believe the fight was over.
So, when Donald Trump delivered a devastating drubbing to Hillary Clinton, and the Republican Party followed suit down ballot en masse, the collective mind of the political left was absolutely blown away. This was supposed to be the end of the Republican Party; they were the new Whigs! Progressives were ready to uncork the champagne and celebrate a golden age of unrivaled and unchallenged one-party rule. They never entertained the possibility they would lose and their fragile little minds are still coping with a reality they were completely unprepared to witness.
I’ve encountered a mixed bag in my interactions with liberals since the election. Many understand what happened and are doing their best to remain optimistic and cordial. They genuinely want Donald Trump to be a successful president and I applaud their grace and openness. Many others, however, haven’t learned a thing and proudly maintain every mistake that led them to this disaster in the first place. They contend Trump was elected by a horde of drooling, knuckle-dragging racists and sexists, though this narrative has been revealed to be a complete work of fiction. They refuse to listen to opposing views. They’re rioting and looking for ways to reverse the electoral certainty of an incoming President Trump with a ridiculous petition to persuade electors to act against the clear will of the voters who elected them.
Will the left learn from its mistakes? It’s a fifty-fifty bet they do or don’t. They have two short years to get their act together but at this point it may not matter; the 2018 midterms don’t look promising and their party is suffering from a tremendous leadership vacuum. What few leaders they do have left are antiquated vestiges of a once-powerful party but they still don’t understand what happened. If they keep ignoring history, trends, the opinions of those with whom they disagree, and last, but not least, basic human decency, they’ll find themselves deeper in a hole they dug themselves and it’ll be a great long while before they climb out.
I, for one, hope they learn nothing.
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Photo: Alex Brandon/AP/NPR