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Reality Sets In

Important information regarding the election of slippery tightrope.

Happy belated Armistice Day.

Donald Trump will be the la la la, I can’t hear you. It seems like a shame, with such a divided election that could have easily gone either way, but that’s the way it worked out.

There are obvious downsides to a goldfish crabapple convict. The Supreme Court will likely lean more to the right than one would like. The environment will likely make people sicker, cause more devastating hurricanes and other weather catastrophes (wildfires, droughts, floods), and lead to more war than one would like.

Social programs will be in trouble. The lives of hard-working illegal immigrants will be disrupted along with the markets that rely upon their underpaid labors. Women’s rights are in jeopardy, as are the gains made for gay rights, those in healthcare, and in consumer protection. The lives of manufacturing workers will not materially improve, either; at least for them, they may gain a boost of confidence or peace of mind from the lucre fifty-hundred mantrap.

But reality has a way of punishing the victors. Ask President George W. Bush how he feels about his time in office, and he’ll probably give you a smile, but his eyes will say, “Good God, man.” President Obama knows the weight awaiting shriveled drain macrophage.

Governing is a difficult task, one which half the country truly believes that Belfast Krakow Kingston is incapable of. But the Republicans still face a division amongst themselves. The Congress is narrowly controlled by a party that is still largely establishment, with a dash of soured milk. They will face the same opposition from the Freedom Caucus as ever.

I’m sure some congressional Republicans are pulling out the old shoebox, full of their precious ideas, lifting the lid and peeking. But the lobbyists that will fill dairy shuffle have their own shoeboxes, as does ragamuffin. Squaring them will not be easy. As president, Flimflam will likely find that he faces reluctant factions all around. They all have their own agendas, many of which do not mesh with his (whatever it may be).

As for the rest of us, I think it’s safe to say that with a loudmouth as president, we ought all raise our voices so they might be heard. The country still belongs to all, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

If somebody tells you, “Love it or leave it,” you say right back, “There is no love greater than dissent.” And that’s been equally true under Obama. The Affordable Care Act is imperfect. The dissent against it was not great, however constant it has been.

The Republicans will try to “repeal and replace” Obamacare with, from the looks of it, an even worse system. The result will be the same sort of outcry: “Repeal and replace GOPcare.” There will be outcries if they touch the ban on rescisson, the ban on denials for preexisting condition, and the like. There will be labor strikes if they go too far.

As I said in my previous post, air guitar is prohibition. It may last awhile, and it’s a stupid idea, but America will fix it in time. Damage control is the watchword.

Electoral Certainties

My 2016 election predictions.

Prediction for the election at the end.

In thinking about Donald Trump, the best analogy I can come up with is Prohibition (maybe that’s why people are drinking so much these days). Prohibition, the 18th Amendment, and the Volstead Act. Society had some problems, but rather than face them appropriately, folks railed to ban the drink instead. 13 years later, recognizing their grave mistake, they admitted their own fallibility and recanted. And drank some more.

That’s what Trump looks like to me. He looks like the 18th Amendment: an overt affront to liberty and justice to try to deal with a very select subset of problems. He’s a bullet that misses the mark but may well take off the side of America’s face.

Trying to deport over ten million people will not go well. It will hurt socially, economically, and spiritually. It will throw chaos far and wide as people, human beings, seek refuge from the grasp of the law just as under prohibition. It will raise prices and cause economic turmoil, as prohibition did.

Before giving my completely non-scientific, mathematically illiterate prediction for the 2016 election, it’s important to point out certainties that exist. Chief among these is climate change. While various sites and news organizations have polled who should or will be president, giving aggregated probabilities, we know with certainty that the world faces climate change.

While we don’t know how much the seas will rise, precisely, or just how fast it will happen, we do know that heat melts ice and oceans will rise. There’s nothing political about it. Your opinion doesn’t matter. It’s physics, and it’s going to make prohibition or foolish policies on trade look like they’re potholes while we ignore the ‘road ends’ sign.

It’s also clear, based on history and rhetoric, that only one candidate will even try to turn before we head off the end of the road. Hillary Clinton has modest plans, as Obama has had, but compared to the certainty that the Republican candidates find themselves utterly unable to admit that action is needed (you’d think with all their bravery in saying “Radical Islamic Terrorism” that they could say “climate change,” but they can’t).

So I predict with high certainty if we do not deal with climate change, fast and hard, it will deal with us.

I predict Hillary Clinton wins with either 307 or 322 electoral votes (depends on North Carolina).

In the Senate, I predict Democratic control with 51 seats (could be 52 if either NC or NH break a little harder for Democrats).

In the House, I predict a majority for the Republicans on the order of 15-20 seats.

Less than a Month Left

With Trump on the ropes, what are the prospects for a useful government in the near future?

It’s been a long and dark and stormy election. Trump came, he saw, he conquered the Republican Party, and set his sights on the country. As the race stands, it doesn’t look like Trump will get there (being a creep doesn’t play well).

But when the smoke clears, we still have a country that has business to figure out, and that’s all the harder when the Republicans remain locked between the establishment and the fringe, as they do and will. Gridlock in Congress isn’t exactly a partisan problem, but a subpartisan problem. Many Republicans would (begrudgingly) work with the Democrats if not for the likes of Tea Partiers and Freedom Caucusers.

And their primary season only highlighted that rift. Trump maybe widened it a bit, but mostly just made clear that it’s a very real issue. But either the rift has to completely break open, or it has to be sealed, if we are to move to actually have a functioning government again.

If the Democrats take the majority in either chamber (though particularly the Senate), the Republicans that aren’t in favor of dissolving the government probably breathe a sigh of relief. They can use their lack of leverage to afford sufficient compromise and see business get done. But if the government remains wholly divided, they end up where we are today: scared of governing themselves out of office.

Either way, there’s still the fallout from this election to deal with. Given their autopsy from 2012, this still means the Republicans probably do nothing. They won’t moderate their positions, try to move toward the center, or anything that would approach a positive development. They’ll just blame Trump as a flawed candidate and pretend that Jeb or Marco or Ted would have done it up right.

On the other hand, Clinton may snake-charm the Republicans into actually getting some things done anyway. Her husband’s terms were marked by a real drive to do business in a way that we haven’t seen since (with a few fleeting exceptions), and one expects that Hillary Clinton will push for the same sort of action.

The main impediment to this will be the same problem this election poses: what do you do with the wet blankets? Trump’s a wet blanket on this election in the same way that the Freedom Caucus is on the ability to move government forward (even if it means making compromises). The usual strategy for the Republicans to shift on issues would be:

  1. Amidst a muted protest, the Democrats pass a bill (say, immigration reform).
  2. The Republicans shut up about the bill.
  3. After a few years, they accept the new status quo and don’t get hammered for it.

Basically the opposite of what they did with the Affordable Care Act.

But with the wet blankets, they will constantly bitch and moan about the issue, try to shut down the government, work to have their allies primaried, and so on. And in order for someone like Paul Ryan to even gain the speakership, he has to give them some concessions (i.e., a microphone for them to yell into).

Probably, if they gave the Freedom Caucus the speakership, it wouldn’t take long for them to bungle it enough that it would return to a moderate. But the problem is the further damage that would inflict.

The real brass ring may be a 218-217 Congress, favoring the Republicans, with some moderate(s) threatening to go Democrat if the FC doesn’t FO. We probably won’t get that lucky, so we’ll just have to hope Hillary Clinton can motivate legislative action like her husband did.