I have spent ample time on this blog in the past going after the Republican Party for its complicity in creating the monster that is Donald Trump’s ascendancy. In fact, that is just one of many things I have lambasted the GOP for over the better part of the last two years. They are a party that has no idea how to set an agenda, how to govern, how to come up with new and useful ideas, and (most importantly) how to win elections—the results from earlier this month notwithstanding. Going into this fall, I firmly believed that once the Republicans lost the presidential election (and with it their control of the Senate and the conservative majority on the Supreme Court), they would learn absolutely nothing from their defeat and move toward nominating yet another empty suit in 2020 whose policy positions would be virtually indistinguishable from those of George W. Bush.
Well, I was wrong on one rather large count. The Republican Party did not do poorly at all at the polls on November 8th. But I remain steadfast in by belief that the party will never own up to its all too real shortcomings and its undeniably disastrous mistakes. If anything, their victories all over the country on Election Day will give the bumbling idiots in charge of the GOP all the cover they need to ignore their many deficiencies and deny that a reality television star ever managed to successfully complete a hostile takeover of their party. And let’s not forget—as someone who, on about 75% of the issues, can find a lot of common ground with Republicans, I don’t say any of this with relish. I think it’s a tragedy of epic proportions that only a party as uniquely inept as this one could even pull off.
But wait. I’m forgetting about the Democrats, aren’t I? I had spent so much time criticizing the people on my side of the aisle as Trump obliterated them that I, defeated, had checked out of this presidential race completely by July and went blind to the (now stunningly obvious) fact that there was still one more dumb, arrogant party left for Trump to lay waste to. The Democratic Party exploded when Trump won two and a half weeks ago. Their fall has been as swift as it has been stunning to watch. Trump exposed the Democrats as a party out of touch not only with their base but with working class voters all over the country whom they had taken for granted. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn’t it? The Democratic establishment may have been able (with great effort) to turn back the populist tide of Bernie Sanders’ candidacy, but his swift rise and strong challenge to Hillary Clinton should have shown us all then and there that anti-establishment revolts do not happen solely on the right. The Republican Party as we know it might have died on Election Day without anyone noticing, but the gutting of the Democratic Party has been laid bare for everyone to see.
And this dismantling is arguably far worse than anything that has happened to the GOP. The Democrats now control the governorship and both houses of the legislature (“trifecta” control) in just five states after only managing to flip three state chambers this month. In contrast, Republicans managed to flip three chambers of their own while also holding onto the Senate, the House, and increasing their already dominant number of governorships to 33, leaving them with trifecta control in 25 states. The Republican Party may have some serious troubles at the top, but in terms of down ballot success, they are nearing historic highs. The Democrats, meanwhile, are a party without either a standard bearer or a bench from which to cultivate future leaders.
And the Left’s reaction to the Democratic massacre of 2016 has really been something to behold. In the wake of Trump’s ground-shifting victory, progressives seem frantically eager to abandon their principles and point their fingers at nameless “deplorables” rather than take a look in the mirror and have an honest discussion about how they helped get us here. And make no mistake about it—the Left in general, and the Democratic Party in particular, share culpability in creating the Trump monster. The Republicans may have incubated this movement, but once it hatched the Democrats were all too happy to fatten it into a size capable of toppling the entire American political establishment. The Left’s distressing habit of stifling debate, smugly asserting their own moral superiority on every issue, and decrying anyone who disagrees with them as hateful bigots, misogynists, and racists didn’t exactly mollify the angry, economically devastated Americans who were flocking behind a candidate who defied “political correctness” and smug coastal elites.
But rather than engage in some much needed introspection, the Democrats have apparently decided to keep engaging in the exact behavior that created this mess in the first place. After years of wielding identity politics as both a rallying cry to unite disparate pockets of voters and as a cudgel to demonize conservatives, their own methods came back to haunt them in a big way when Donald Trump came up with the rather radical idea of playing the white identity politics game. Turns out that heaping scorn on a diverse group of people whose only commonality is the color of their skin does quite a lot to inspire them to start voting against you as a monolith. And following up an electoral loss with what Eric Sasson at The New Republic refers to as “outrage porn” certainly doesn’t constitute a constructive path forward.
And it doesn’t end with just the screeching cries of “RACIST! MISOGYNIST! XENOPHOBE!” that have been directed at anyone who voted for Trump for any reason at all. No, the Left has decided to go one step further and refuse outright to accept the election results. A group of computer scientists is calling on the Clinton campaign to audit the vote in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, where they claim there are odd discrepancies between her vote totals on paper and electronic ballots. The Left has seized on this completely spurious claim (Nate Silver says so!) and have decided that what really happened was the Russians hacked into those electronic voting machines and swung the election to their comrade Trump. Even Paul Krugman, Nobel Laureate and shameless Democratic windbag, took to Twitter to say that “given the role of Russian hackers in the campaign,”—they were the ones who hacked John Podesta’s emails—“it’s all too plausible.” Seriously, this would make Alex Jones blush. And all this coming from the people who railed against Trump time and time again for implying that he might not accept the election results if he lost, calling such a thing a fundamental threat to democracy. It sure didn’t take long for them to throw that deeply held principle right out the window.
The Left is notorious for shifting their beliefs on the proper use of power once they no longer wield it, but this post-election conspiracy theory hogwash is really beyond the pale. And that would be the case even if they hadn’t spent the past eight years (rightly) mocking their opponents on the Right who invented far-flung fantasies about President Obama’s birthplace, religion, and the legitimacy of his two elections. Really, I suppose I’m getting ahead of myself by waiting for the Democrats to stop spewing vitriol and figure out where to go from here. First, they’ll have to actually accept that they lost. The same goes for their allies in the mainstream media. I couldn’t help but laugh when I saw Chris Cuomo of CNN proudly assert that “the media cannot yield” in the face of a Trump presidency. I think he fails to realize that as an anchor for CNN, he and his colleagues on all of the major cable news networks fed the Trump juggernaut all the attention and free airtime they needed to climb all the way to the White House. Don’t expect those fools to learn their lesson either.
I’ll take a moment right now to admit that I’m being a hypocrite by writing an entire post that glosses over Republican misdeeds while simultaneously taking pot shots at the Democrats while they’re down. But you know what? This was a long time coming. Years of smugness and condescension from the Left, as well as their utter lack of any magnanimity as they racked up huge victories in the culture wars, has finally come back to bite them in the rear. And now, they’re doing what they do best: blaming their losses on hordes of bigoted phantasms that are angry not because they’ve been mistreated and left behind by both parties, but simply because they are racists, even if they don’t realize it. Don’t get me wrong—I’m deeply troubled by the impending Trump presidency. I fear what it means for our democracy, our institutions, and for marginalized people everywhere (including the rural whites who see Trump as their salvation). But I’m also not too proud admit that a sizeable part of me relishes watching the Left self-destruct as they are finally forced to reckon with the fact that their methods are not infallible, that their smugness is not always justified, and that their ideas are not always winners. It’s about goddamn time.