They would not vote for Clinton. It wasn’t that she was a Democrat, although that was enough. They’ve never voted for a Democrat, ever. But, as they also claimed, there were just too many grey clouds surrounding her. I suspect it may also have had to do with her being a woman on the heels of a black man, but they would deny it to the end of time. So they voted for a charlatan surrounded by clouds of a darker shade of grey, hoping he might turn out to be a true conservative who would make this country great again. With reluctance, they admit they’ve been had. It would have been better to have not voted at all.
I understand their reluctance to vote for Clinton. Beyond all else, she epitomized for them an imaginary Wall Street dominated Eastern Establishment working in partnership with out of control tax and spend liberals to take away whatever was left of middle class life, replacing it with government regulation and welfare. You can’t have eight years of talk radio and Fox t.v. selling it without making it stick in the minds of many.
Whatever making American Great Again might have meant to them during the campaign, it’s rotted on the shelf with nothing to replace it. The darker shades of grey surrounding Trump have turned darker yet. What’s next? Trump remains president. He’s no figurehead. He has real power and can make real decisions. But the generals under him seem to have formed a de facto junta able to limit his most outrageous tendencies, giving some modest degree of coherence to foreign policy, if not domestic. Hurricanes and fires have placed competent political and career technocrats in charge of doing the best that can be done with the resources at hand, without any sign of presidential leadership. The overwhelming need to deal with them forces most everything else to a lesser place on the national domestic agenda. It helps that the more incompetent political appointees seem to have been stymied by their own incompetence. Their occasional appearances are duly noted and duly dismissed, with some degree of concern that they might do something damaging, and tiny rays of hope that they might do something needed. In the meantime, their departments keep on doing what they usually do.
In other words, the ship of state continues to function reasonably well in spite of a captain who makes Queeg look sane. It offers some degree of comfort, but military juntas and a civil service on automatic pilot are dangerous to democracy. The sooner it can end, the better for us all. The 2018 midterms are a long way off, but they are the most promising opportunity for the nation to return to a reasonably well functioning congress in which far right wingers would be demoted to as far back on the back bench as possible, where they can entertain themselves throwing spitballs at far left wingers. In the meantime, a sufficiently roiled election may inspire new leadership to work for the good of the nation, negotiating in good faith from their respective positions.
Meanwhile, maybe, just maybe, talk radio hosts will lose enough sponsors and audience to return them to the backwater swamps from which they emerged. Maybe, just maybe, Fox news will become a legitimate source of factual, useful information. Maybe the rest of broadcast journalism, including public radio, will knock off their customary tone of anxious hyperbole about almost everything they report on, and adopt the calm, confident voices we desire in professional journalists.
There is hope. Between now an November of next year, let him golf all he wants, encourage him to use Camp David often, if he wants a rubber ducky to play with, give him a rubber ducky. Just keep him busy with whatever amuses him. A revitalized congress will not change who occupies the White House, but it may encircle him with with enough constraints to get us through. Congress has been complaining about the imperial presidency since Nixon. Now is their chance to do something about it.