Initial thoughts on Trump’s election:
– Republicans were prepared to make the argument that although Hillary Clinton won, she had no mandate. She only won because she defeated a terrible candidate. Most Americans disliked both of them. So her victory doesn’t mean the American people want her policies put into effect wholesale. Now the argument is flipped. The American people literally voted in plurality for Trump’s opponent.
– Still, the idea of “mandates” is overrated. Politics is about power, and the Republicans control Congress and the presidency. But Democrats hold enough Senate seats to filibuster legislation.
– The 2018 midterm elections will be extremely important. Democrats have to defend 25 Senate seats, compared to 8 Republican seats.
– Conservatives in Congress, partnering with Democrats, must unite to block those aspects of Trump’s agenda that would be destructive like plans for a wall and massive tariffs. We need to come together.
– The Democrats need to realize that elections are decided on emotions and cultural attitudes more than policies. Hillary Clinton may have been smart and knew her stuff, but she didn’t have “charisma,” and she couldn’t connect with the mythical white lower-middle class voters of Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan who have rural conservative cultural values. Past Democrats have been able to, and other Democrats like Joe Biden might have been able to this year. It may be stupid, but it’s a fact of campaigning. Republicans learned that lesson the hard way when they nominated a smart wonk who seemed stiff in 2012.
– Trump’s supporters paint themselves as downtrodden, but the downtrodden actually voted overwhelmingly for Clinton. Clinton won by 10 points among those earning less than US$50,000 a year. Trump won every group earning more than US$50,000 a year.
– The Democrats seemed wedded to Hillary Clinton in 2016. Few credible alternatives entered the race, and there was always a suspicion that Clinton’s allies tried to limit scrutiny of Clinton. It could have hurt their chances. Next time they should choose party (and country) over personal loyalties.
– There could be a civil war on the left, as on the right. Already there are Sandersnistas, feeling done and ready to vent, suggesting that Sanders could have won and that the party’s problem was it didn’t go left enough. Nevermind universal healthcare, we should have single-payer and universal college education! It’s a complete misreading of why the Democrats lost and the exact opposite of what they should do next.
– As such, they should think long and hard before nominating far-left longtime Ivy League law professor Elizabeth Warren.

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