Blue Wall mea culpa

There was ample good news for Democrats in the 2016 results, but without some coherent vision it won’t matter. Clinton was remarkably popular in suburbs everywhere, even across the South and especially in Texas and Georgia. Trump is on track to finish this race with a lower popular vote percentage than Romney, and will possible reach McCain’s level by the time the last ballots are counted in California. Republicans won the generic national Congressional ballot with barely 51%. The last two Republican Presidents will have assumed office while losing the popular vote, finishing with 47% and 46% of the vote respectively.

Voice of Trumplandia

Just to be clear, I know absolutely nothing about Chris Knight’s politics. For all I know he’s walking around right now with a safety pin on his lapel. That’s not the point. Knight’s music is a unique window into the frustrations of a certain chunk of the white electorate. If you want to understand the emotions that would inspire support for Trump among white voters who could still, potentially, vote for a Democrat, then you should probably become familiar with the music of Chris Knight.

Reject the temptation to make this normal

Let me suggest, however, that we resist the temptation to normalcy. Regardless what we may have done to fight this menace, we all own what happened here. I live in an affluent suburb, insulated from much of what was wrong about the world yesterday. I will still be insulated tomorrow and next week. I have a choice to make about whether to continue that isolation, whether to rest, whether to accept comfort.

Can it happen here?

Milgram’s research also suggests that the party will not be able to reform itself. Having purged dissenters and shrunk to a culturally and racially monolithic core, there is simply no force capable of resisting its present dynamics. The party will break and re-organize, or be replaced. How long this will take is anyone’s guess, but the process can be expected to spread instability all across our system.

Trump Whisperers

Politics in a democracy hinges on an openness to understanding, the quest for empathy. As the Trump Whisperers are demonstrating, that quest can go wrong, especially when both understanding and empathy are stunted by cultural distance. Our drive to find common ground can end up legitimizing or even romanticizing toxic ideologies. All values are not equal. Some values deserve to be aggressively marginalized. Some values should inspire more anger than sympathy.

Everybody, calm down

The most depressing message from this election is not that Trump might win. He won’t. What’s truly frightening is that very few Republicans are peeling away from their 2012 voting patterns. The most abhorrent political figure to rise in from our political system, perhaps ever, will inspire a decline in internal Republican support of only about 3-4 percentage points. That tells a terrible story about the weakness of conscience in the face of group pressure. It is a reminder that “it can’t happen here” is a myth.