1. It’s Thursday, November 10, 2016.
2. It’s the 250th anniversary of the chartering of what is now Rutgers University, my son’s alma mater.
3. Trump’s election has sparked big protests in cities around the country.
His supporters are outraged by this, complaining that they didn’t protest when Obama won twice.
To them, I will spell out the difference: the people protesting have spent the last year and a-half hearing their champion trash them.
Not once or twice, in some moment of weakness during a long campaign, after which the candidate apologized. Every day, sometimes multiple times each day, Hispanics and Muslims and women and African-Americans and lots of other people have heard the insults – and, by the way to the Trump cheerleaders, your lack-of-a-heart-felt exhortations and taunts and Internet memes with Confederate flags.
When you win with a divisive campaign, you reap the whirlwind. That was the danger about which sober-minded people, including those Republicans who couldn’t vote for the candidate, warned.
Author Stephen King is absolutely right. Saying he was getting off the grid for awhile just to heal his wounds from this campaign, his message to Trump and his triumphant minions is the old antique shop sign: You break it, you own it.
4. But this is not to say that I think it’s a great idea for those opposed to Tuesday’s result to take to the streets.
Trust me, I’m sympathetic. The result of this election has made me angry and sad, and there’s a part of me that wants to go into some of kind of time-lock chamber that won’t open until Jan. 20, 2021.
And yet all these protests will do, coming on the heels of Hillary Clinton’s concession speech and President Obama’s message of reconciliation, is fire up the Trump types to prove the point I’m going to make beginning two paragraphs down.
It’s not worth the escalation. At least not for now. I strongly suspect there will be opportunities to tie up traffic across the country in the months ahead. And a lot of the people on the other side might be joining ours.
5. I got some great insight from students in my Media Writing class yesterday, as we pretty much ditched the curriculum for a day to discuss the event that kept us up all of the night before.
One of them said he could never understand why experts thought Pennsylvania was such a lock for Clinton. He had driven through the commonwealth, going all the way to Pittsburgh, and saw nothing but Trump signs along the road.
Now, as one political operative says, yard signs don’t equal votes. I couldn’t drive five miles through Rockland County, New York, without seeing hundreds of signs for a Republican county judge candidate. He lost. He couldn’t even win my precinct, which Trump won.
But my students thought the Trump enthusiasm they saw in Pennsylvania and in their home state of New Jersey was genuine.
By contrast, they never saw the same level of furor for Clinton. And they’re right. Except in pockets of liberals, there were few signs or other visible indications that someone supported the Democrat.
One other enlightening point from these young men and women. Most of them seemed visibly distraught by Trump’s victory.
But few – if any – shared that feeling about Clinton’s defeat. They didn’t like her.
There was the sense that she’s dishonest and feels entitled. Some believe she robbed Bernie Sanders of a fair shot at the Democratic nomination; they believe unequivocally that Sanders would have crushed Trump.
I asked if they felt this way because she’s a woman – having just written yesterday’s post giving that a reason No. 1. The male students said no, but some of the female students believe that strongly.
I asked if it was because of her husband, and their answers were kind of hemming and hawing.
That reflects a simple fact: They don’t really know Bill Clinton. They were born in his presidency. The credit Bill Clinton gets for a booming 1990s economy doesn’t resonate with them. And the Monica Lewinsky scandal doesn’t either – except that it’s part of a vague unease about the man that has been spread over time by his – and his wife’s opponents.
All they know is that they were really excited about Sanders, the same way they were still excited about President Obama – even though they were too young to vote for him.
And, by the way, very excited about the idea of Michelle Obama running in 2020.
One point I made through the campaign is that people don’t vote against someone for President. They vote for someone.
The 2016 election tested that theory. As of this writing, Hillary Clinton received 233,404 more votes than Trump.
But that doesn’t disprove the theory. Because we elect a President through the Electoral College, through the winning of individual states, not a whole nation.
And because she couldn’t get enough people to want her.
It’s shocking in a way, because I know so many women who were so excited by the prospect of reaching that milestone. The problem is not enough women – especially those who have just crossed the timeline from girl to woman – felt that way about Hillary Rodham Clinton.
(For an interesting take on this, here’s Clinton biographer David Maraniss’ piece for The Washington Post.)
6. As an aside, I’m going to raise this question again, without trying to answer it – sort of a prelim for tomorrow’s 20 Questions Friday:
Did Hillary Rodham Clinton have a better chance at winning the White House if she had run as Hillary Diane Rodham?
7. Finally, a clarification:
In my HARD TO KNOW HOW TO START blog yesterday, I talked about who should lead the Democratic Party going forward. And I mentioned Tammy Duckworth, the senator-elect from Illinois.
I still think it’s accurate to say Duckworth should be a leader among Democrats. She is bright and relatively young, and she is a great person for reaching out to Asian-Americans and military veterans.
But, if there was an implication that she’s a possible 2020 presidential candidate, it’s mistaken. As I should have remembered from a homework assignment I gave one of my students, Duckworth was born in Thailand. That makes her constitutionally ineligible to be President.
Again, it doesn’t preclude her from being a leader among Democrats. In fact, when Trump gives his first State of the Union speech to Congress early next year – that’s going to be something to watch – Duckworth might be a great candidate to give the Democratic rebuttal.