Like so many, I was wrong about Donald Trump’s chances to take the White House Tuesday, although I think I always knew there was a chance. But I certainly underestimated a few things, and have had the chance to get optimistic about a few more things while simultaneously getting stronger in my resolve about a few others. So, humbly, here are my thoughts on the direction we now take as a country:
Stealing the idea from my sister, this election was almost exactly like that Dr. Seuss book, “Horton Hears a Who”. You know, the one with the kindly elephant who is sensitive and observant enough to hear the little Who on the dust speck as he screams out that there’s a whole world on his little ball of nothing (to the average eye). Horton hears them. And once they all voiced their song together in unison, Horton’s friends stopped thinking he was crazy and heard them, too.
And that, in a nutshell, is what happened Tuesday. The Whos — the working class men and women who’ve been told for years they’re just a bunch of dumb hicks — got heard.
The problem, of course, is that our Horton the elephant wasn’t the first to hear them because he’s particularly sensitive to their situation but rather because he’s trained to see desperation as opportunity. And the Whos in our story are a sight angrier than the Whos in Whoville. Both found their populist savior. But, unless there’s an epilogue somewhere, the Whos didn’t elect Horton to LEAD them, only HEAR them. Because populist saviors are mostly only good for the movement and upset, but tend to be pretty untenable demagogic leaders (with exceptions. Teddy Roosevelt was better than most.)
But our Horton will take the White House in January (although he’s apparently already talking about splitting time between DC and New York. Not sure how you drain the swamp if you can’t stand to venture into it, but I’m sure that’ll get worked out.) The Democrats no doubt created this middle finger back at them that came in the form of a Donald Trump presidency because their smug condescension just got to be too much to bear, even for their former supporters (who I’m pretty sure are the Jim Webb Blue Dog Democrats). And I think the feminists need to consider that many, many men in this country balked at being undeservedly disrespected by Hillary Clinton. And I’d make that point louder except you ladies will think it’s ONLY about the fact that she’s a woman, and it simply isn’t. But being a woman had something to do with it, and it doesn’t make them bad men. See if you can work it out and get back to me.
Anyway, some of my favorite moments in the week since the election have come in the sudden discovery of the evils of the electoral college and how the popular vote is all that should matter. I’m sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but the Framers weren’t trying to give extra voting power to rural areas because they favored those interests. They were trying to equalize voting power so that places with smaller populations (i.e. fewer real votes) could still be heard. The electoral college is a good thing and protects us from “the tyranny of the majority”:
The reason that the Constitution calls for this extra layer, rather than just providing for the direct election of the president, is that most of the nation’s founders were actually rather afraid of democracy. James Madison worried about what he called “factions,” which he defined as groups of citizens who have a common interest in some proposal that would either violate the rights of other citizens or would harm the nation as a whole. Madison’s fear – which Alexis de Tocqueville later dubbed “the tyranny of the majority” – was that a faction could grow to encompass more than 50 percent of the population, at which point it could “sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens.” Madison has a solution for tyranny of the majority: “A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking.”
Think of it this way: if the popular vote elected Hillary president this time, she almost literally would be president of New York and California alone. Period. That seems like the opposite of fair and democratic to me.
And so I’m starting to get excited about getting rid of some of the disastrous entitlement spending and horrible tax schemes we’ve been suffering under. But I do think there’s something conservatives need to consider as we go forward (even some of us on the “no loyalty!” list which, I’m sorry, is the stupidest thing I can think of when beginning work to repair the country, and not just because I might be on it):
We ceded the moral high ground this time, conservatives. And we did it for a win in an election where very few people actually voted. In fact, as I understand it, Trump got fewer actual votes than Romney when he was massacred by Obama in 2012. It’s just that Hillary got so many less than Obama. In short, more people didn’t vote for Hillary than didn’t vote for Trump. But there is no mandate for President-elect Trump. Far too many people stayed home rather than be faced with the choice of voting for him over possibly the most crooked candidate we’ve seen in 50 years. And that’s something to think about.
Further, we can no longer claim we have some insight into the moral character of this country. Not for the next four years at least, although I think Pence was a good choice to temper some of that given his social con cred. But we became what we beheld and said we hated. And it was necessary to win. And now we have. And maybe that good will undo the Machiavellian method. But I leave you with an anecdote.
I was involved for years with a competitive group that, after many years, legitimately won the top prize in our larger organization. We won with skill and teamwork. But later it was discovered — and almost no one who was part of the win knew it — that one of our members was an illegal (by the rules of the organization) member. We had effectively cheated and none of us knew. As a result, we were stripped of our win and humiliated, all of us, not just the offender and the one or two who had prior knowledge.
My point is there are consequences even for the innocents sometimes when you’ll do anything to win. I just hope we’re all prepared for what it takes to Make America Great Again.