Friday, November 11, 2016

Politics

You know that old saying, "Don't talk politics with friends and family", but we do.  It's in our DNA.  So, this post will be about the 2016 election.  Most of you who are friends with me on Facebook or Twitter know where I stand.

I'm a white, 52 year old Democrat living in a solid-blue state, California.  The first time I voted was in 1984, for Walter Mondale.  Yea, things didn't start out too good.  But I've voted in all elections, mid-terms, off-year and Presidential ever since.  Local and state elections are as important as Presidential.  And I didn't grow up in an Democratic family.  My Dad, ex-Military, was a Republican.  But he was a moderate.  Liked Bill Clinton, but died before Obama was elected.  My Mom was an Independent until the W. years, when she voted registered as a Democrat.  

Why did this result stun so many.  For one, Hillary Clinton was ahead in every major poll.  Anywhere from 3-6%.  And her Electoral projection was to be over 300.  She was going to hold most of the states Obama won in 2012.  Florida would be another tough fight, though.  Well, this isn't what happened.  Very few of us though she would have Rust Belt problems.  But the blue collar workers in those States were swayed by Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric.  Jobs are going elsewhere, they were told, and he's going to keep them here.

This is no mandate.  Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.  Trump's triumph along the Rust Belt was razor thin.  Yet, the populace is as disengaged as ever.  48% of registered voters stayed.  That number is usually concrete.  No matter how many times people are told how important their vote is, most tune out.

Very few saw this result coming, I said, but two people warned us.  Nate Silver, a week before the election had a post saying Clinton could win the Popular and lose the EV.  But Democrats were ticked off at Silver for most of this cycle because he was too cynical about her chances.  By election week he had her chances of winning down to 60%.  Then there was Michael Moore, who in the Summer wrote that Democrats were abandoning Rust Belt workers, not just in his home state of Michigan, but in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Minnesota.   Again, Democrats railed.  Moore's sometimes cynical, boorish persona didn't match with the polls.  But he was right.  And besides, when Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary in Michigan during the primaries, that was a signal her support there was soft.  But Obama voters who stayed away weren't persuaded enough to come back.  Where was the message that if elected Trump gets to pick Supreme Court justices?   That if elected your family could be without any health coverage?  Where were the speeches that if the GOP gets control of all branches of Government that they will bankrupt the U.S., like they've always done?  Addressing Economic concerns might have been tough for the Democrats with unemployment lower than when Obama took office. But they should have addressed low wages with blue collar voters. The themes of the campaign weren't pounded enough.

As it turns out had she carried Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, three states that have voted Democratic since 2000, she would be President.

So, Hillary Clinton was a flawed candidate.  The email story never went away.  But the mainstream media played a big part in all of this.  And James Comey's October surprise had an effect on late voters.  Clinton was continuously exonerated even while she apologized for any mistakes she may have made. She committed nothing criminal.   But it wasn't enough.  The media played Trump's game.  And sexism is alive.  I really believe that many men just weren't going to vote for a woman, especially someone who's been part of the Washington circle for decades.

One reason I've boycotted CNN, MSNBC, New York Times News sections is because they gave Trump a free ride through most of the campaign.  Never looking into his shady past ties, giving him free airtime to sprout his lies.  Letting him get away with not releasing his taxes, not doing press conferences, giving non-Fox outlets telephone only interviews.  They stayed silent about his past treatment of women, until a tape was leaked to show what a misogynist pig he is.   This is a man who mocked people with disabilities, called John McCain a coward, put down our Military (who voted for him anyway) and lied his way into the office more than any other candidate in history.  So, screw the National press.  I'll get my info from Independent sources.

Donald Trump is a disgusting con man that is now the President. And his hateful words will have consequences for the many immigrants and non-white citizens.  Six million 2012 Obama voters didn't vote for Hillary.  Some went for Trump, some the Independents, some stayed home and others just didn't vote.

State races are important.  Republican Governments in many States did their best to make voting a struggle for the poor and minorities.  Disenfranchising voters is a bigger story than is being reported.
In North Carolina, for example, early voting sites and hours were cut back.  The same in Wisconsin, Florida and other swing states.  Now there are more GOP Governors in office than ever.  Yes, State races are as important as Presidential.

Trump never thought he'd get this far.  He ran for President to promote the Trump brand.  He thought Jeb Bush or someone else would get the nomination.  Once he got the nomination, he thought Hillary's Blue firewall would hold.  Actually become President?  First of all, here in California we've been trough this before.  Arnold Schwarzenegger ran a similar celebrity-fueled campaign.  Like Trump, Arnold's larger than life Terminator persona won over our usual Blue state voters.  But Arnold was a terrible Governor.  And thanks to a Democratic state congress, he had trouble passing his bills.  Trump has a Republican Congress at his disposal.

So, what are we going to get?  Trump's a salesman his supporters tell us.  He always gets his way.  And that's scary.  His biggest supporters expect him to fulfill on the red meat proposals he fed them during the campaign:  1.  Kick out the Illegals, 2.  Build a Wall, 3.  Throw Hillary in jail and 4.  Kill Obamacare.  I predict he'll only be able to get rid of Obamacare.  And even there, won't be able to fully deliver.  Let's not forget, Obamacare is really Romenycare, a Republican policy.  As Trump's first term rolls on, the Independents and first time voters who flocked to him, will be surprised at how little he comes through for them.

And what about the Democrats?  My hope is they do to Trump what the GOP did to Obama for the last 8 years.  Obstruct everything he does. There's a history here.  Under GOP policies, the economy has tanked. They get careless, reward the rich, reward the big corporations.  Try more trickle-down policies and forget about the working class.  Under their policies, unemployment rises, wages never go up.  Rust Belt voters will want something for their vote.  The  GOP had control of Congress for most of Obama's term.  And have hung tough blocking his every policy.The Democrats start out at the bottom.  Will they roll over like they did in George W. Bush's first term?  I'm hopeful but not optimistic.

It's a scary, fragile time.  But the initial punch in the gut at the thought of a Trump win is wearing off and the reality is real.  American will always survive.  We got through Nixon, Reagan, both Bush's. These were Republicans who did major damage.  But Trump is a different animal.  He always seems to win.  The fact that he's gotten away with so much in his life, and been given everything, only inflated his ego and has emboldened him to the point where he shows no compassion for anything.

In 2018 and 2020 Democrats will hopefully have regrouped with better DNC leadership.  Changes have to be made to appeal to all voters, not just those in reliable Blue states.

Good luck to us all.
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