Last night ended one of the most contentious presidential elections since 2000’s Bush v Gore. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump fought a hard battle to the finish line. They were two completely different candidates, coming from completely different experiences and worldviews. Neoliberal versus unpredictable nihilistic anti-establishment tornado. All in all, it was recipe for political disaster and realignment. And nobody saw the result coming. Well, sort of. More on that later.
In one corner, there was Hillary Rodham Clinton. She was the Establishment candidate, tempered by relentless political battles from her time with her husband as governor of Arkansas and two-term President, the Senator from New York, and Secretary of State.
She was the first woman to capture the nomination of a major party in the United States. She was, quite probably and literally, the most famous woman on the planet. Through the Clinton Foundation and her political connections, she gained a reputation across the world (for better or for worse). Her 20-plus years in the spotlight made her the most vetted political figure in American history.
Events around the world and domestically spelled the death knell for Clinton’s candidacy before it even began. The political unrest in Greece over the European Union and International Monetary Fund’s attempt to install an austerity regime, which led to the rise of the anti-neoliberal Syriza Party. The rise of Podemos in Spain. The shift to the left in South America and Iceland. And the cherry on top, the shocking BREXIT vote that no one saw coming.
It was the middle of 2015, and the neoliberals in control of the Democratic Party thought they had a bulletproof candidate, a bulletproof strategy for a post-Obama world, and a bulletproof strategy to roll out an unopposed Hillary Clinton out to the world again. But they didn’t pay attention to their audience. Neither did their opposing party, the Republicans.
In the other corner was Donald Trump. He was what many in the establishment considered to be a joke candidate. He was called a carnival barker, a reality show star, and a fraud. Maybe he was some of that, all of that, or none of that. But he managed to galvanize a Republican base that was tired of the Mitt Romneys, the John McCains, and the Marco Rubios of the world.
At the beginning of the Republican primary, things were status quo. The Republican Party was in control of most state houses and governorships, and had enough power on the federal level to check any move that President Obama wanted to make. After 2012 it was all gridlock, all the time. 2016 was fast approaching, and the Republicans had the opportunity to nominate a candidate that could propel them out of the political wilderness. They just didn’t predict what was coming out of their crowded primary.
When the dust settled, Donald Trump was the last man standing, sending shockwaves throughout the establishment, in both major parties. Unfortunately for both the Republican Party and Democratic Party, they could not have predicted the ultimate result.
Once the dust settled from the contentious Democratic and Republican primaries, we were left with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They were two of the most unpopular figures in American politics in history. Sky-high negatives for the pair of them, yet they survived to face each other. Both candidates took decidedly different approaches to campaigning.
Hillary Clinton didn’t have a coherent, direct message. It was always “I’m with Her.” And that’s it. Her policy prescriptions were ignored in favor of a race run by weaponizing identity politics and racial/economic intersectionality. Looking at her advertisements, there was nothing that spoke to the needs of the populace that felt that they were being left behind in the post-2008 Recovery.
A Donald Trump presidency is going to lead to a lot of things that Democrats, liberals, and leftists are not going to enjoy. Republicans are going to love him. What can we expect?
First, the bad news. The repeal of Obamacare. The attempt to reverse any marijuana legalization that passed. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (if it doesn’t pass in the lame duck session). Wall Street deregulation. Social Security cuts (and the Social Safety Net in general). Mass deportations that will make Obama’s already horrific immigration policy seem like child’s play. Massive tax cuts for the wealthy. Protections for LGBT people will be eroded at a frightening level.
It’s going to get worse before it gets better. There’s no sugarcoating that. Things are going to get very bad. Sorry.
If the right people get organized, this will be a one-term presidency. The last time Republicans got everything that they wanted, they wrecked the planet, they wrecked the economy, and they were run out of the White House and Congress. The Republicans have gotten used to being obstructionist, and are rubbish at actual governing (because of what they want). This will become evident rather quickly. This is a good thing.
A Donald Trump presidency is nothing anyone expected. Yet here we are. The future is uncertain, domestically and overseas. 2016 has proven to be the darkest timeline. But things will get better. Light at the end of the tunnel and all of that. America has had darker days and emerged stronger than ever. Everything will eventually be okay.
We can only hope.