One thing I love about elections is they are a license to stay up late. One thing I have no affection for is losing.
In the first election I remember in any detail, my dad was elected supervisor in a small township in Illinois. That victory was good for my family in ways a little boy could never envision. But my dad had won; I was excited to be up past bedtime; and I envisioned the “other guy” seething with anger at having lost.
“Oh, no,” my dad assured me. “He’s a great guy.”
And anyway, he reasoned, if you’re going to lose it’s much better to lose by a large margin.
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“Imagine losing by a vote or two,” he said, “and wondering what if you had talked to just one more voter.”
I might not have those quotes exactly but that talk always stuck with me. My dad was usually right, whether I was listening or not.
So I see where the Democrats are. Despite what some folks say, last week’s vote wasn’t a blowout. Those states we stayed up so late to see how they’d flip easily could have flipped the other way. The missed opportunities have to be maddening (43 percent of eligible people didn’t vote, for example).
The closeness isn’t lost on Republicans, either, whether they’re saying so or not. Evidence? The Democrats seem to have won some battles without firing a shot.
Since Day 1 of his campaign, Trump has been calling Obamacare a disaster that will be repealed. He never wavered.
“When we win on Nov. 8 and elect a Republican Congress, we will be able to immediately repeal and replace Obamacare,” he said Nov. 1.
Then he was elected. Now he likes two essential parts of Obamacare: the guarantee of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on parents’ plans until age 26. Maybe they’ll just change the name to TrumpCare.
“It was a great campaign device,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, vice chairman of Trump’s transition team of Trump’s wall-building statements.
“The wall is going to take a while,” said Rudy Giuliani, a major Trump surrogate and possible attorney general nominee.
“There could be some fencing,” said the president-elect Sunday on “60 Minutes.”
And then there’s Congress, which is less than enthusiastic.
Lock her up?
After he won, Trump said the nation owed the vanquished Hillary Clinton “a major debt of gratitude.” A couple days later, he told the Wall Street Journal, “(Trying to jail her is) not something I’ve given a lot of thought.”
So don’t order those orange pantsuits just yet.
The Republicans get at least one Supreme Court pick, which could shift the balance back to the right. Trump has floated what he believes to be solid conservative picks. But remember, George H.W. Bush picked David Souter. Don’t forget Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision on Obamacare, either.
I know. Wishful thinking. A hail Mary.
After that, it goes downhill pretty fast for Democrats. Medicare? In big trouble.
Social Security? Bought any gold lately? Tax cuts? It’s what Republicans do, but the middle class probably shouldn’t spend theirs just yet.
Civil discourse? White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon.
No wonder young Democrats are protesting, rioting in some instances. And Trump seems more aligned with Democrats on the protesters than some on his staff. Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway urged President Obama to speak out against protesters’ calls for violence, while not mentioning the violence incited by Trump supporters.
Trump, on the other hand, told his supporters to stop the violence. And early on, he tweeted a message of support for protesters: “Love the fact that the small groups of protesters last night have passion for our great country.”
Democrats, unless they like being in the minority in all three branches of government, have less than two years to heal some deep wounds. Even if they find a leader who can bring the Clinton and Bernie Sanders factions together, they face an uphill fight in 2018.
But so did the GOP this year.