Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Winners and Losers in the 2016 Election

This was one wacky election, and there are some unusual winners and losers.
Winners.  Among the least obvious, but most important winners are liberal Democrats.  The middle-of-the-road, milk-the-liberals-for-votes-and-then-abandon-them strategy of Bill and Hillary Clinton is definitively dead, with a stake driven through its heart.  Bernie Sanders is a major victor from yesterday's election, as he now has a chance, along with Elizabeth Warren, to reshape the Democratic Party.  The Clintons' decades old strategy of cozying up to Wall Street and other obscenely rich donors while talking but not walking like progressives blinded them to the prairie fire boiling up from people who work hard but for not a lot of money.  Sanders and Warren, who may be the most influential Senators today, won't make that mistake.  They will reach out and try to help the people who are driving politics today.  Politics is ultimately about the flow of crowds, and you can't capture the energy of insurgents by condemning them as deplorable. 

Another major winner is the FBI.  Had Hillary Clinton been elected, the specter of possibly wholesale "personnel changes," shall we say, might have hung over the FBI, crippling its ability to function in numerous crucially important arenas.  Donald Trump and whoever he appoints as Attorney General would be wise to leave the FBI unconstrained to conduct business regular way, with no hint of a political agenda.  Everyone benefits when law enforcement is evenhanded. 

And, of course, another winner is that . . . what's his name?  Oh, yes, Trump.  That Trump fellow will find out that running for President is a whole lot easier than being President.  It's one thing to make speeches.  It's another altogether to make things happen.  Even though the Republicans control both the House and the Senate, that doesn't mean Trump will have a successful Presidency.  Barack Obama had the advantage of a Democratically-controlled Congress at the beginning of his first term, and his approval ratings have fallen dramatically since then.  Donald Trump will have to find a way to work with all kinds of people, and lashing out at them isn't likely to be productive.

Losers.  One of the biggest losers is the Establishment.  Both the Democratic and Republican establishments got their heads handed to them yesterday.  An outside observer can readily tell that it's time for change.  But people holding power rarely give it up without a struggle.  George Washington set a noble example when he refused to run for a third term as President and returned to Mount Vernon.  Try to find someone as noble as that in today's political establishment and you'll have more luck seeking the Seven Cities of Cibola.  Things are likely to get ugly as both parties struggle to change. 

Big Money Donors got hammered in this election.  They bet on Hillary Clinton and a platoon of mainstream Republican primary candidates, and wound up only with much smaller bank accounts.  It turns out that, in democratic politics, money isn't everything.

The Democratic Message was lost.  In fact, perhaps the most important reason Hillary Clinton lost was she had no message.  All she seemingly did was attack Trump and proclaim, ad nauseum, that she wasn't Trump.  Trump had a message, a message of hope for working people who usually have only stagnation and despair.  This was not a message that Clinton or the elitist mainstream press clearly discerned.  But Trump got through loud and clear to his supporters.  Nothing drives voters as much as hope.  Trump instilled hope in his constituents.  Clinton didn't seem to have hardly anything positive to say about the future, and her potential constituents lacked the most powerful motivation in politics to vote.

Of course, there is Hillary Clinton.  Bill and Hillary's time in politics is over.  One wonders if they know it and will be able to step aside graciously.  The successful resurrection of the Democratic Party depends on the establishment of new leadership.  But the tremendous cash flow the Clintons have enjoyed since Bill left the White House appears closely linked to their power in the Democratic Party.  If they give up the power, the cash is likely to flow to the new power players.  Since Bill and Hillary have an obvious love of money, the struggle to rebuild the Democratic Party could be grisly. The Clintons, now more than ever, need to think about their legacy.  They already have more than enough money to live in luxury for the rest of their lives.  But, given their baggage that was recounted ad infinitum during the campaign, their legacy needs a lot of work.  Graciousness would be a very valuable first step.

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