So, whatever happened with those US elections?
I ask because
from the vitriol and violence I keep seeing on social media, it seems
like the elections are still looming over us. The one fact we thought
everyone would have to accept, the actual hard data of votes cast, is
just as much up for debate as everything from the campaign. In fact,
even though we have exit polling -- you know, hard data from people who
actually got off their butts and did their civic duty -- we're still
dwelling on predictive polls from the past, the ones based on calling
someone up, expecting them to answer truthfully and assuming that they
will follow through on their promise.
I'll offer my take, though
there's nothing to make it more valid than others. Arguably, as an
American who's lived in Israel (or Canada) for most of the past 20
years, it may be less valid. But here goes.
I come from literally
(and I mean that in the old dictionary definition) the bluest district
in all of America. It's remarkably static, electorally at least. When my
parents got married 45 years ago, it was represented by one Charlie
Rangel. And you know what? It still is represented by Charlie, despite
primary challenges, ethics charges and a few devastating pieces on "The
What I'm saying is I come from a very blue district
(currently NY-13) in a quite blue city in a reliably blue state. Yet I
watched, for the first 30 years of my life, a Democratic Party that was
only on the defensive. "De-Fence!" as we used to shout at the Knicks
games (they've also been losers my whole life). Now, for a good chunk of
that time, the Democrats were in fact in charge of Congress, but as a
kid, who knew who the Speaker of the House was? It was all about the
White House, and for the first three decades of my life, I only saw one
Democrat get elected to it: Bill Clinton. Every other Democrat was a
dud, often losing by a landslide.
But Bill was still a Democrat
playing Defense. NAFTA might have been George H.W. Bush's project, but
Bill was the one to sign it into law. Welfare reform, the Crime Bill,
the Defense of Marriage Act, don't ask don't tell, repealing
Glass-Steagal--Bill was GOP Lite.
But what else could he be? A
Democrat couldn't win the White House. Even Bill only managed to get 43%
the first time and 49% the second because a mad anti-trade
multimillionaire who talked funny and weaved bizarre conspiracy theories
was running alongside the Republican candidate. And those were ugly
campaigns, in which whoever supported the Democratic agenda had to
ignore the certainly sinful and possibly criminal things Bill had done
to women over whom he held power.
Barack Obama hope-and-changed
all of that. He had a vision which he laid out brilliantly, and he
inspired people from all walks of life. Sure, there was plenty of
opposition, but he did something no one had done since Eisenhower,
winning two elections by getting at least 51%. And he sits today with an
approval rating in the mid-fifties. He's far from perfect, he had his
own bitter battles with Congress -- but he was not a Democrat playing
Then, for some reason, we Democrats picked Clinton again,
not Bill this time but Hillary. Except, of course, Bill comes along
with Hillary, and there was no way he'd ever stick to the East Wing and
putter around as First Gentleman. And we got a Clinton election:
vicious, salacious and above all defensive. And once again, we got the
result we should have expected: Clinton, the far more qualified and
competent candidate, winning the most votes, but only a plurality. And
this time the mad multimillionaire WAS the Republican nominee, so that
added up to an electoral catastrophe for HRC. By the exact same
electoral margin as Obama - Romney, and about the same number of votes
as Mitt, Trump won. He will be the 45th president of the United States.
If you're American, he is your president (elect).
I don't have
patience for counterfactuals. Nor do I have patience for petitions,
protests or pity. Those are all your right (assuming you're doing it
peacefully), but you're still playing defense. Equally counterproductive
is to say: if only we stopped giving people a hard time for their slurs
and slights against minorities and women, the majority would like us
more. That's defensive as well. Yes, stop being politically correct and
kowtowing to the (alleged) consensus. Instead, make an affirmative,
offensive argument for your vision. Engage with the new administration.
Make your case. Help your fellow man. Advocate for your cause. Because
when all you're trying to do is not lose, the other side will always