Wow. Hillary Clinton won with a bigger electoral and popular vote margin than seen since the 1980s. So much for that “50-50 nation.” Democrats also took the Senate. Between Democratic Party gains in the House and the defection of tea party supporters, Paul Ryan accepts that he will have to rely on some Democratic votes to be re-elected speaker of the House.
The rest of the world — Vladimir Putin and Julian Assange excepted — breathe a collective sigh of relief. Celebrations break out around the globe as the world’s citizens toast what did not happen.
Donald Trump has not conceded, but only his loyalists (about 20 percent) continue to admit they voted for him. They’ve quit calling themselves the “tea party.” Now it’s “the Trump Party.” To no one’s surprise, Trump’s team is announcing the launch of a media empire. Not IRT (“It’s Rigged TV”), nor WYT, but PUR (“Purity TV”). Fox News is terrified. It is right to be so.
Donald will wake up in a sweat at 3 a.m. tomorrow, terrified that he is no longer newsworthy. The Franklin Grahams, Pat Robertsons and Jerry Falwell Jr.s likewise are panicked. Their brand of Jesus-loves-you-but-I-hate-you theocracy has been defeated by a new generation of evangelical leaders who prefer caring for the downtrodden to seduction by the siren song of political power.
Conservative thought leaders acknowledge the culture wars are over. No one cares about same-sex marriage anymore. The conversation on abortion turns to how to come together to actually reduce the need for and number of them, rather than obsessing over Roe v. Wade. The surviving GOP leaders (Reince Priebus is not to be among them) announce plans to improve rather than abolish Obamacare. Comprehensive immigration reform is visible on the horizon, the Hastert Rule having died the painful death it and its namesake so richly deserved.
Given the Trump (and Bernie Sanders) phenomenon, both political parties look seriously at ways to shrink what for decades has been the growing chasm between the wealthiest and the rest of the citizens.
Trump and his 1st Regiment of the Army of Deplorables promise to fight on. In the years ahead, they will win a rare election here and there, more often claiming victory for having ensured the electable Republican loses in the primary. These victories will be a replay of the Battle of Palmito Ranch — a skirmish the Confederacy won in May 1865, near Brownsville, Texas.
The problem is the Civil War had been over for more than a month, after General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Virginia, on April 9. As with the Battle of Palmito Ranch, each casualty in Trump’s war will die in part from malignant futility.
Historians will wonder at the year that America came close to electing someone who showed every sign of a dictator-in-the-making, from gigantic ego to thin skin, from scapegoating to media-bashing. Future students will ask: Was it because of sky-high inflation, skyrocketing unemployment or the ravages of a contagious disease that the country almost did this?
No, their teachers will answer. It was because some people started telling themselves lies and eventually they believed them. And their lies got bigger and still they believed them. And eventually they could not tell truth from fiction. But it was stopped by record-setting numbers of voters turning out to say, no, we don’t believe it, you’ve gone too far, pull it back, you’ve left us.
Why did it take more than 230 years to elect an African-American and then a female, the students then will ask. No good answer.
Originally appearing in November 1, 2016 Waco Tribune-Herald, where David is a member of the Board of Contributors. Submitted to the paper October 25, 2016.