Moving Forward: What Went Wrong

Election Night was pretty rough for me, just as it was for millions of other people across America. I held out with the last of the stragglers at a watch party until 3:30 a.m. and went home questioning how this could have happened.

If I may, I’d like to attempt one quick postmortem of the Clinton campaign. About eight months ago I wrote that the Democrats had neglected their working class white base and that they continued to do so at the risk of losing such states as Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and North Carolina. I wrote that it was not enough for Clinton supporters to write off Trump supporters as simply being racist, that they had to really try to appeal to them, especially the Democrats among them who had defected. That Secretary Clinton lost all of those states, as well as Midwestern states that have been blue for years, indicates that the Democrats probably didn’t make that outreach.

The Democrats courted the African-American and Latino vote. In the days leading up to the election, there were reports that a “Latino surge” would deliver Florida and Nevada to Clinton. They were half-correct. Secretary Clinton was counting on just enough votes from white, blue-collar voters that she could then use overwhelming black and Latino majorities to win the election.

Essentially the Democrats abandoned class solidarity in exchange for identity politics. It failed, and to everyone’s surprise, Trump was able to marshal what used to be a Democratic coalition minus urban liberals. It appears that, among other things, whites have now appropriated identity politics for themselves. And it just won Trump the White House. The Democrats need to reshuffle their priorities for outreach, because in addition to Trump, the Democrats are down two houses of Congress and a few dozen gubernatorial seats.

Going forward, how well Donald Trump is actually able to implement his agenda is anyone’s guess. After his interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday, it became clear that some of his campaign promises were a bit more flexible than initially thought. For example, he might keep some parts of Obamacare rather than repeal it in its entirety. I am in no way convinced that a wildly inconsistent President Trump is any better than a Trump hell-bent on implementing a series of bad policy promises.

With two houses of Congress under Republican control and a Supreme Court judge to be nominated in his first 100 days, a good measure for what Trump can do will be limited by the Constitution rather than his undetermined political capital. Whether we’re ready or not, Americans will be receiving a crash course in Constitutional law in the next four years if Trump attempts certain policies. For example, putting Muslims on a registry would be a gross violation of the First and Fourth Amendments.

Certain other policies fall within the purview of executive authority, though, which may be where Trump can do the most damage. Undoing President Obama’s executive actions on DAPA and DACA, however, will be easy. So will approving the Keystone Pipeline. So will doing harm to the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency.

In order for the Democrats to defeat Trump and his agenda they need to get back to their roots as a blue-collar party. Let’s just hope they can do so before the midterm elections.

Hold on to your hats, America. Things are about to get interesting.