Friday, November 11, 2016

Post-election ramblings

These are a collection of thoughts and ideas that I've had floating around in one form or another for the past year. After Trump's drubbing of Secretary Clinton, a lot of these have started to metastasize and so I hope to remove them by being inarticulate on the internet...

Let's start with this: stop protesting. Put away the 'Not My President' signs - they weren't ok when President Bush won, they weren't ok when President Obama won, and they're not ok now. You might not have voted for him, you probably didn't support him, but he is our President. If nothing else, you have to respect the office. You're even allowed to hope that the office changes the man. Un-wring your hands and start planning. There will likely be plenty of things to protest once President Trump takes office, you needn't give him any ammo or justification for being an authoritarian before he takes his oath. Yes, you have an absolute right to assemble and protest, but he hasn't done anything yet. And when he does do something, we're going to need our message heard by people who aren't already burned out by the constant whining. Reduce your noise and make sure the signal is loud and clear: Trump won the election. He does not have a mandate or the freedom to do as he pleases. When he tries to create a database of Muslims, we'll protest, we'll file suit, and we'll all register as Muslims.

The electoral college: I am a huge fan of Professor Lessig. I would be hard pressed to come up with anyone in the political arena for whom I have more respect, but I disagree with him on this. Electors within the college cannot ignore the message sent by the electorate (a message sent both by those who voted for Trump and those who didn't vote) by reducing the results to the popular vote tally. If they do, they really serve no purpose at all and we might as well have an election based on the popular vote. The electoral college is meant specifically for this type of election where the final tallies are very close - they magnify the results and produce a clear winner; the country is split, the states are not. Welcome to federalism.

The Democrats: This is a tough one because there are more questions than answers and some of the answers just raise other questions, but it has to start with taking blame for your nominee. The way the DNC silenced opposition, ignored alternatives, and forced Hillary Clinton onto the ballot because it was 'her turn' deserves the bulk of the blame. The rest lies with the hubris of the Clinton campaign and Clinton herself. Instead of the message of jobs, policies, strength from diversity, the message was 'ZOMG NOT DONALD TRUMP' and 'if you vote for Trump you're a racist'. It was the same peril of right-think we've seen the past several election cycles that have given us a Republican House, Senate, Governorships, and state legislatures. The scene during and immediately after the election of Democrats frothing at 3rd party voters is precisely the message you don't want to send. There wasn't outreach, their wasn't any sort of internal reflection; it was somebody else's fault. It's possible I'm being too harsh here and we're still in the early stages of K├╝bler-Ross. If that's the case, then Act 5 Acceptance needs to start with a mea culpa and new leadership. Unfortunately, that doesn't appear likely right now. The answers to who should head up the DNC and who the 2020 candidate should be are not readily available at the moment, nor are they questions that need to be answered right now. There is a modicum of time to grieve, reflect, and analyze, but come March there needs to be a clear answer to the first question. That leader then needs to put together an agenda and coalition that focuses on jobs, the economy, and equality not for the 2020 race, but for the party. I don't think we'll have any idea who the next candidate will be until Super Tuesday 2020, in the meantime the Democratic party has to define itself as something other than 'Not Republican' which is exactly the message they've been sending since 2008 and since then the Obama Coalition has won the White House once and that's about it. Congress and state legislatures continue to tilt Republican because they offer a vision. The Democratic party needs to start defining who they are and what they stand for and not start every sentence with 'Republicans want to...'. One disturbing scenario is that President Trump implodes, the people he conned vote (D), no lesson is learned, and we continue on with identity politics through the 20s

Forward: I am hopeful that the enormity of the Office of the President is not lost on Mr. Trump. I hope that he takes his responsibility and the oath of office seriously, that he hires & appoints skilled and knowledgeable individuals as his advisors and to his cabinet. I am hopeful, but not optimistic. Given the current rumblings of Chief of Staff Bannon/Lewendowski, Secretary of State Gingrich, Attorney General Giuliani/Christie, and Secretary of Defense Sessions, I am even less optimistic. But no one has been confirmed yet and there is time for President-Elect Trump to make good decisions.

Part of moving forward is going to be the understanding a few things:
1.) The Affordable Care Act is done
2.) President Trump will probably get to appoint 2 Supreme Court justices (you can thank Justice Ginsburg for not retiring after the 2012 election). Which leads to...
2a.) Obergefell v. Hodges will probably be overturned
2b.) Roe v. Wade will probably overturned
3.) Voter ID laws are likely to continue to be made more burdensome
4.) Planned Parenthood is probably getting de-funded
5.) The Department of Education could very well be dissolved

I say this not because I want to see these things happen, but because I have spent the past six years listening to what Republicans have wanted to change and now they have complete control. It's also important to get through our 5 stages as quickly as possible so we can start planning our response. What can we do about these?
The ACA, probably not much. Republicans have hated that from Day One, so while the individual mandate and Medicaid expansion are probably gone (and premiums are going back up), we might be able to keep wording on the books that would prevent insurance companies from denying coverage based on preexisting conditions.
The Supreme Court - well the filibuster is an option, but it shouldn't be used. If Democrats hope to claim any sort of moral high ground, they cannot be reduced to the same tactics used by their Republican counterparts. Recognize that you're filling Scalia's seat - a position that, even when filled with a very conservative justice, still allowed the ACA and Obergefell in the first place. Democrats don't have to sign off on anybody, but I think they would be better suited saving their bullets for when it's time to replace a moderate on the court. As for 2a & 2b, there will still be states where both are legal (Nominee Trump has indicated abortion-rights should be left to the states). Obviously this is not ideal, but there are no permanent majorities. Fight to get the right people elected to state legislatures and what happens at the SCOTUS level may be moot.
Voter ID laws - I don't really know. I find Republican attempts to suppress minority votes appalling and abhorrent. My only suggestion is to be active in your community, speak up when something's not right, and offer any assistance you can to those who need it. I know, it's not much of an answer =\
Planned Parenthood is going to go through some lean times to be sure, but it won't be permanent and it may not even be immediate. PP receives ~$500 million a year from the federal government. If everyone that voted for Hillary kicked in about 8 bucks, that would cover the loss from being completely defunded.
Department of Ed dissolution - this is the most far-fetched on the list (I think) and I really don't know what implications such a move would have. But I do know that right now, you can run for a seat on your local school board. Get involved.

A reminder from Tip O'Neill that all politics are local; go to neighborhood meetings, get on school boards, go city council meetings. It's time to start building.