I know I’m not alone in hand wringing over tomorrow’s official electoral judgment. A little more than 24 hours from now we’ll either be listening to a victory speech from President-elect Hillary Clinton or a smug, threatening gloat from Donald J. Trump. Although we’ll finally be free of an epically awful 18 months in the history of American politics and all of its failures of media, civic and moral leadership, in many ways our troubles will have just begun if an authoritarian with habits of pathological lying and sexual assault is our next POTUS. It would be irrational to feel calm and tranquil about what lies ahead.
I have to believe that Trump is going to be taken to the Electoral College cleaners, and not just because it’s my fervent personal wish. Although his work has been impugned by conservatives as well as far leftists who loathe Hillary Clinton in recent days, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog gives the former Secretary of State a 69.5 percent chance of winning, with just a shade under 300 electoral votes. While that’s not exactly the mandate some of us would prefer (thanks ever so much for the bullshit James Comey), it will do for now. I’d like to conclude this paragraph by reminding all voters on both sides of the spectrum that villainizing a reputable, intelligent statistician simply because trends don’t fit a desired narrative is short-sighted and yes, nasty. Silver and his data were the real winners in 2012. He deserves the benefit of the doubt by far.
But I digress. Whichever nominee of our two major political parties comes away the victor (because spoiler alert Jill Stein and Gary Johnson: it won’t be either of you), there’s a group amongst the 2016 campaign madness that’s succeeded beyond its wildest expectations – and our collective revulsion. The venerable New York Times devoted front page space to this cohort today. To wit: Donald Trump’s Extremist Supporters Feel Like Winners Either Way.
Because really, even if Trump is drubbed at the ballot box, it’s kind of hard to recork a popped bottle of (until recently) simmering racism and misogyny. And pop it these “special” interests did with a little help from the vilest human ever to receive a nomination for the nation’s highest office. Let’s take a look at some of the Trumpists key accomplishments:
- Nativist fear mongering. While pandering to white voters about the dangers of open borders is neither new nor exclusive to the United States, Donald Trump really made cultural othering a center piece of his campaign. His promises to build a wall on Mexico’s peso were accompanied by false, incendiary claims about immigrant crime rates, racist slurs and unapologetic, patently disproven stereotype. Most dangerous of all, he completely normalized this rhetoric and made it safe for hate speech to come out of the shadows. Matthew M. Heimbach, a co-founder of the Traditionalist Youth Network, a white nationalist group, told the Times, “Trump has shown that our message is healthy, normal and organic — and millions of Americans agree with us.”
- Destroying Republican Party infrastructure. While it’s easy and oh so tempting to indulge in a little schadenfreude when it comes to the GOP, let us not. I will always maintain that a healthy two-party system is required for our democracy’s optimal function. The fact that Preibus, Ryan and McConnell allowed what was left of their party after 2012 to be hijacked by a bigoted madman who MIGHT be able to further their champion causes of tax cuts for the wealthy and the destruction of the social safety net, is no cause for anybody’s celebration. It’s sick and wrong…and here to stay. They may never again reclaim the Oval Office in their current incarnation, but Republicans have a chokehold on regional and state offices all over this country. Those local efforts to disenfranchise voters, discriminate against gay, lesbian and transgendered Americans and kill public education attest. Congratulations on making the party your Constitution bludgeoning bitch, Trumpists.
- Conversion of media into Trump lapdogs. With painfully few exceptions, mainstream media has carried water for the Donald ever since he rode that 2015 escalator into the Republican primaries. I don’t need to rehash specific incidents. This website is a veritable catalogue of 2016 journalistic malpractice. For funsies and perspective, take a look at What Newspapers In 13 [Other] Countries Are Saying About Donald Trump.
- Depersonalizing and humiliating American women. If female voters aren’t barefoot, pregnant, back in the kitchen and in need of a man to help them secure a loan, it’s not because the Trumpists haven’t given it their best effort. From assuming control over our bodies to make medical decisions or grabbing us by the pussy, to the “Lock her up!” chants against Hillary Clinton, Trump and his followers have sunk to new lows in disrespecting and alienating women. The misogynist legacy this campaign leaves behind won’t soon be forgotten.
That’s just a smattering of the far right’s “wins” this electoral cycle. Few of us are naïve enough to believe that a Clinton victory tomorrow will drive these cretins back into the recesses of American culture. We fed the Gremlins after midnight.