Over pride weekend, I was at a brunch where we began discussing, as happened at pride brunches around the country, the numerous reasons why Hillary lost.
To be honest, this is not something I have a huge opinion about. It does seem like Hillary could’ve done better, but it also seems like something of a moral hazard question. Like, if a few states had swung the other way, we wouldn’t be having this talk at all. Like do you guys remember 2008? Where they were more or less even in the polls until the economy crashed in September? And afterward all the talk was about what an amazing politician Obama was?
He was definitely an amazing politician, but would he have become president if AIG hadn’t gone bankrupt? I dunno. But if he’d lost the story would’ve been different. And why should it be? Why should the presence or absence of calamity change the story?
So the truth is I don’t know why Hillary lost. I’m not convinced it was Russia. I don’t know that it was the Comey letter. It may’ve been voter suppression: it’s hard for me to say!
Lately I’ve been falling back more and more on “I don’t know.” And that’s because oftentimes it’s the only honest answer you can give. Like there’re plenty of people out there who talk in these slippery slope arguments. They’re like, well, doesn’t America need an immigration policy? Can America just have open borders? Should people just flood in and be able to work without any controls?
Many of my friends would have answers for these questions. I don’t. As far as I can see, open borders aren’t on the table, so why argue about them, unless it’s for the sake of arguing? I have my moral opinions, which is that it’s inhumane to deport people who’ve made their lives in this country and who have, often, been good and decent citizens. In many cases they’ve even paid taxes! And that’s oftentimes all I really need!
Or people are like: how do we stop police from killing black people?
Shit, I don’t know! I know that I would really very much like it to stop. I feel like it’s not really my job to provide detailed policy proposals to make this happen: it’s only my job to be part of a constituency that’s in favor of change.
I do think that running a government and creating laws is a pretty complicated job. There is a role for technocrats and wonks and centrists. The job of the political process is to set priorities. Politicians cannot decide what’re the most important things to be done; they rely on elections to agglomerate the voice of the people. But once they know what people want, it’s their job to figure out how to do that shit.
The downside, unfortunately, is that people oftentimes want some pretty messed-up stuff! Like since November 8th, people have been saying, “We’re gonna stop Donald Trump this way” or “Don’t let Donald Trump do that stuff” or “Make sure Washington knows that this shit isn’t normal!”
But, err, didn’t we have an eighteen month long election whose entire point was figuring out what exactly it is that Americans care about? And apparently Americans really care about immigration! It completely baffles me, honestly, but then again I am a brown person. Americans really care about repealing Obamacare. Probably because they think it mostly benefits brown people. They really care about building a wall. They really care about banning muslims. You can spin the election however you want, but it’s pretty clear that Americans care about that shit.
And this time around you can’t even say that the election got bought by establishment interests, because it wasn’t. You think the establishment cares about immigration? No way, they have no problem with open borders. This nativism is entirely a grass-roots thing.
In this case, the political process worked. It told our government exactly what the American people want from it. What they want is horrifying and stupid, but I don’t think the government is going to ignore it. Just like in the UK, the government could’ve ignored the Brexit vote, but they didn’t. It’s like, they had a vote on Brexit: the people spoke; they said what they wanted. That’s the system. It sucks.
Our system has judicial review. The courts are doing their best to block Trump. That’s pretty good. Thumbs up to the founding fathers. But other than that, what is there to do? All the calling your senators and congresspeople in the world isn’t gonna change the fact that we just had an election that was fought on exactly these issues, and our side lost.
So what comes next? Well…I don’t really know.