HARD TO KNOW HOW TO START

1. It’s later on Wednesday, November 9, 2016.

2. Last week, I tried to explain to my Media Writing students something they didn’t understand: how the Electoral College works.

I told them about a bunch of weird scenarios – and one of them might just come to pass.

Hillary Clinton has just taken the lead in the national popular vote. That means more Americans, as of this moment, voted for her than for Trump.

But, again as I told my class, that’s not the United States decides elections. We decide it on a state-by-state basis, awarding electors from each state who’ll meet next month to actually choose the president.

So the fact that Trump won some states by narrow margins overshadows Clinton’s big margins in California and New York.

My students were incensed by this. I told them that’s the reason they need to vote – if you want to change things, you don’t get to do it from the sidelines.

Now, the chances of this happening are slim. But the best chance of it happening will be if Trump is as abysmal as he’s been at everything he’s done – and people realize what a travesty it was that a relative handful of people in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin foisted him upon us.

If Clinton wins the popular vote, it will be the second time in 16 years that the biggest vote-getter isn’t president. Before 2000, it hadn’t happened since 1888, when incumbent President Grover Cleveland outpolled Benjamin Harrison across the country, but lost in the Electoral College.

3. In a little while, Hillary Clinton will give her concession speech.

I personally would rather have seen her give it early this morning in the Javits Center, where she could have rallied her crestfallen supporters. But maybe she, herself, was so shell-shocked that she couldn’t handle the moment the way she thought she should.

The postmortems for this election will be quite extensive. I’m just going to touch on two involving the Democrats:

  • Was Hillary Clinton the wrong candidate for Democrats?

I’m just not convinced that Bernie Sanders would have done better. Trump and the Republicans would have labeled him “Crazy Bernie” or “Bernie the Socialist.” He would have used Sanders’ own words to show he would raise taxes – because that’s what Sanders said he’d do in order to pay for expanded Obamacare.

At this hour, I still believe that being a woman is the No. 1 reason she lost. But perhaps that’s running neck-and-neck with being a Clinton.

In a way, she paid the price for George W. Bush. The American people are not into dynasties. They tried it with W. – they got the Iraq War and a near depression. It’s why Jeb Bush did so badly in the GOP primaries.

And while Bill presided over a booming economy, he also presided over the most stupid scandal imaginable. That baggage never went away.

  • Who leads the party now?

The problem with nominating the old folks in your party is that you don’t give a new generation a chance. One of the reasons Barack Obama won the nomination in 2008 is that he was a fresh face – that gave him an edge over Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and the others.

The Democrats had some winners last night, believe it or not. My favorite is Kamala Harris, who won the Senate seat from California. Yes, she’s got two “strikes” against her with the electorate that anointed Trump – African-American and female. But she’s a smart, dynamic young woman who can rally the party with young and minority voters.

Another is Tammy Duckworth, the senator-elect from Illinois. Again, two “strikes”: female and Asian-American. But a big plus is her military background – she lost both her legs in combat in Iraq.

And there’s Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey. Again, he’s African-American. A dynamic leader who’s popular on the late-show comedy circuit that’s essential to reaching a millennial audience.

The party needs to lick its wounds quickly. It needs to start planning for big off-year elections next year in New Jersey, Virginia and New York City, and the 2018 midterms. This midterm, they’ll have an edge. If the Trump presidency is a failure, the country might well be ready to throw Republicans out the door.

4. Here’s the first in a series of last night’s winners: ISIS.

The people of the United States have embraced the idea that the name of the religion ISIS has hijacked is Radical Islam. They don’t want Muslims from Syria or Libya or anyplace else to show up.

We are no longer the hope of those trying to flee the chaos of the Middle East.

ISIS can exploit that until the desert runs out of sand.

Yes, Trump will try to escalate the fight against the terrorists. But that ignores the fact that, like his KKK and neo-Nazi buddies, such dregs of humanity don’t go completely away.

That despair might spark the next terrorist attack against the United States.

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One thought on “HARD TO KNOW HOW TO START

  1. Pingback: ENTHUSIASM | SUBJECTISM

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