The mourning after

white-house

What have we done, America?

Let me stress that phrasing, because it is intentional and important:  By “we”, I do mean we. Sure, last night drove home just how huge the chasms are that divide Americans, us from them, however you define “us” and “them.” I suspect the next few days or weeks or even months aren’t likely to be particularly healing in that regard. But in the end, we the people of the United States — E pluribus unum, out of many, one — have now elected Donald Trump as president of these United States.

That’s what we, our country, have done. And let’s at least be honest with ourselves: James Comey didn’t do this, third-party candidates didn’t do this, the media didn’t do this, Hillary Clinton didn’t do this. We did. Anything else smacks of denial.

I have little patience with those who at moments like this will throw up their hands in despair and deny responsibility, or who mutter even metaphorically about moving to Canada. If you want to see your worst fears realized, that’s the attitude to take. Every election is a prelude to the next one. When Thomas Paine wrote dismissively about summer soldiers and sunshine patriots, he wrote not just of a Valley Forge winter but of moments like this, and people like that. You may not like what has happened. I very much do not like it. But there’s no opt-out clause in the mutual pact that makes a republic work.

Let’s also get this part out of the way:  I was wrong about the appeal of Donald Trump’s approach to politics, and I was wrong about how our country would respond to it. And as monumental as that error seems on this cold November morning, I hope to be proved equally wrong about what is now an even more important matter, which is what comes next.

More specifically, I hope this doesn’t prove to be the massive, historic mistake that I very much fear it will be. In the short term, it’s going to validate a lot of ugliness across this country, and we’ll have to get through that somehow. A lot of good people, particularly in the Hispanic, Muslim and other minority communities, have every right and cause to feel deeply vulnerable. The America that was promised to them is not the America that they see right now. They’re not feeling all that included in this E pluribus thing, and I don’t blame them in the least. I still think we are a better country than this, and I still hope that better country will emerge, but as of now we have given them precious little cause to think so.

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In Washington, Republican leaders such as Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Newt Gingrich and others have reassured voters throughout this campaign that even if Trump were to somehow get elected, they were capable of guiding him and if necessary standing up to him. I never saw much evidence of that, and the idea that Trump would suddenly become more malleable with the power of the presidency behind him struck me as ludicrous. In short, the pledges of the GOP establishment in that regard always struck me as cynical posturing, but now we’ll see. Summer soldiers, or winter patriots. Some may stand, many will not.

The strength of the institutions that our founders created more than two centuries ago are about to be tested as they have not at any point in our nation’s history, and it’s important to remember that whatever authority our founding documents possess comes not from the Supreme Court but from the authority that we the people give them, or don’t. Our institutions only have the faith that we invest in them, and at the moment that faith is in dangerously short supply.

I also have to hope that I will be as spectacularly wrong about Trump the man and leader as I have been about our country. This isn’t the time to rehash his weaknesses and failures as a person. They were thoroughly litigated over the past year, and the American people have decided that they did not matter. For now, pending further evidence, that judgment has to stand. It has been said in the past that the office improves the man, and I hope — I don’t expect, but I can hope —  that proves true.

And as to why this all happened?  Well, it has been pretty clear to everybody, right and left, that we had reached a state of precarious stalemate in this country. Nothing was happening; the systems of national governance had ceased operating and no longer seemed capable of responding to the issues confronting the country. Tensions were building that we had no means of addressing.

As seismologists will tell you, underground tectonic tensions that build up over decades and aren’t relieved by a series of small earthquakes are doomed to be relieved through a single large cataclysm. I believed that this election would provide one of those much-needed smaller quakes, and that its impact would be contained largely within the Republican Party.

Well, surprise. The majority of American voters had other ideas. They — excuse me, we — have elected a man and a movement that believe they have a mandate to blow it all up. I see no evidence of a plan beyond that, but … we’ll see.

Look at the markets. Look at the reaction of our allies overseas, who will see this as a repudiation of our role as global leaders and will begin to make other arrangements. Add this to what has been happening previously in Britain and France and Germany, and this begins to seem like part of a larger collapse of the order brought out of the post-world-war chaos.

In that sense, those who have backed Trump have already accomplished their most cherished goals. They wanted to tear it down, and down it is coming. Rebuilding it into something new and stronger — that’s where the “we” part will come in again. Eventually.

 

Reader Comments 0

1610 comments
JoelEdge
JoelEdge

I had to come back and read the Bookman bu**hurt. Morning, Jay.

bu2
bu2

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/commentary-the-unbearable-smugness-of-the-press-presidential-election-2016/  This is what a CBS reporter thinks you and the rest of the press have done.  Your lockstep marching with a corrupt candidate who used gestapo like tactics such as disrupting opponent's rallies and paying people to incite violence helped convince some of us we had to vote for the "deplorable" Donald Trump.  The American people are far smarter than the smug press (or Hillary Clinton) gives them credit far.

Tim Tinklenutz
Tim Tinklenutz

Jay, are you all of the sudden trying to keep your job?

Carolyn Henderson
Carolyn Henderson

Get over it !!!! What's been done is done,now it's time to heal and MOVE ON !!!!

Fawn Grier
Fawn Grier

Yes, look at the markets....wait....

elgrunir
elgrunir

@Fawn Grier  Yes, wait until the honeymoon is over and perhaps the defense contractors are no longer wetting themselves.  Good idea.

DecaturDramaQueen
DecaturDramaQueen

First point is, Hillary won the popular vote by 200k, and in a true democracy, that would make her the winner. But we're not a democracy, we're a republic and can't be a democracy unless the electoral college is abolished and the senate is reformed so it's based on population instead of assigning two senators per state. For example Wyoming, with it's population of 566,000 people has the same number of senators as California with a population of 40 million people.

That said, it's not exactly fair to judge people who feel the need to move out of the US now that the Republicans control the levers of power over our lives. Many feel unsafe here because of their color, gender or beliefs. Also, an estimated 22 million people will be losing their healthcare when Obamacare is repealed and many are already sick. If Republicans repeal like they've sworn and don't replace, those with pre-existing conditions and with life-threatening illnesses will die if they remain here without access to health insurance. Maybe they don't want to bleed out in the streets after losing their homes and everything they've ever worked for after losing insurance just so they can be loyal Americans and remain to fight the good fight. Many people simply want to live and raise their families in a country that has a majority of decent, respectable people and more healthy role models than America has at this time. If you're young and idealistic, hang on, but understand that the soon-to-be far-right Supreme Court will thwart all progress and be pro-corporate for possibly the next thirty years. Don't judge those who feel they have to leave--not all of us are young and healthy enough to hold onto our dignity and values while fighting for basic human decency anymore.  

Bill Snapp
Bill Snapp

"Let’s also get this part out of the way: I was wrong about the appeal of Donald Trump’s approach to politics, and I was wrong about how our country would respond to it." Jay, let's just summarize here and say you were just wrong about everything. And still are.

Debbie Lee
Debbie Lee

The election was rigged, the Republican party wants Trump impeached in order for Pence(their true golden boy) to take over. When that happens we are all in trouble - DOOMED!

Shirley Hargrove
Shirley Hargrove

Republicans wanted a White Man back in white house whether he were qualified or not sad it's about the color of your skin

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

It's just a matter of time before we start hearing from the Left about eliminating the Electoral College.

Forgetaboutit 

YouLibs
YouLibs

@JohnnyReb


Are you freaking crazy? The Electoral College is the only protection I have from your ilk.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

I'm getting a kick out the Lib opinion writers especially on how Trump must learn to govern.

This from people who sent a community organizer to the White House whose majority legislative experience was voting present.

This another indicator of why Hillary lost. 

elgrunir
elgrunir

@JohnnyReb  He was a United States Senator, and earned the editorship of the Harvard Law Review.  As for your "voting present" crapola, that's what most do, so don't "call out" Obama for this.  Moreover, he was in charge of the longest recovery from the deepest recession, in spite of Republican obfuscation, obstruction, and obnoxiousness. 

elgrunir
elgrunir

@JohnnyReb  And just what the hell is Trump's "governing experience," anyway, since the government is not a private enterprise.  If suddenly you're all about electing democratically-leaning financiers, you've changed your stripes, as you should have backed Ross Perot years ago. 

YouLibs
YouLibs

@JohnnyReb


I'll bet you've never even glimpsed a list of his accomplishments.


It's a very long one, but I know, that's not what right-wing pundits say so it can't be.

Anne Nelson
Anne Nelson

The first day following the election of President Donald Trump has seen two troubling incidents, one in Wellsville and another at Canisius College. A softball dugout in Island Park in Wellsville was defaced with the words "Make America White Again," accompanied by a large swastika. The graffiti was discovered this morning and the police were called. The park is located near Wellsville High School and the town's central business district.

See_ATL
See_ATL

The left finally outflanked their own longest standing constituency of white middle class, card carrying union members. They took for granted this segment who has seen their health premiums go up, their jobs evaporate, and their idea of a patriotic principle be contaminated with political racial rhetoric. They care more about jobs than which bathroom someone needs to drop their pants in and they finally realized that their party had left them behind. These defectors were the blind spot of the election that nobody saw, and Trump stumbled upon them. The left needs to let this fact settle in.

Stewdaday
Stewdaday

The biggest F-ck U vote in history and everybody who lost is whinning and surprised ???--Just Stop acting dumb already PLEASE...my favorite video explained by Michael Moore on why Trump won big-- Moore nailed it but had no idea it was really going to be a reality. 


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4lMp_363B2c


lvg
lvg

Signs of reconciliation:


Sean Hannity tonight spewing out even more venom towards the President and Hillary showing a caricature of Obama trampling the Constitution.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@lvg You are likely to hear more and more disparaging of Obama in the coming days.

People who were concerned of speaking up will now do so.

elgrunir
elgrunir

@JohnnyReb @lvg  "Concerned of speaking up."  Oh, puh--leeze.  In your "the sky is falling" nightmares, dude.

Kim Jape
Kim Jape

Media, Comey, and third party not responsible ? AYFKM?

Nancy Headen
Nancy Headen

Too bad there's not a morning after pill to wake up from this nightmare

elgrunir
elgrunir

Then don't come here.  Duh.

UGAdawg34
UGAdawg34

I told you every day that the media was lying and that Trump was actually winning., Don't get too butt hurt because your life will be much better with Trump instead of Killary.

bu2
bu2

@UGAdawg34 Some of them weren't lying.  They were just "inside the beltway" (or NYC) and ignorant of anything outside their worldview.  Even Fox admitted they were convinced Trump had no chance even up to the time the votes started coming in.  The media all ignored the polls which showed a very tight race with things trending very strongly Trump's way.  It was no surprise to anyone looking at things objectively.  The RCP average showed it 272-266 Clinton with the difference being one outlying flaky poll in NH, that, if dropped, made it 270-268 Trump with Trump closing fast in PA and MI.

Faith Pieper
Faith Pieper

You lost! Take it like a man! We've had to tolerate your choice ------ 44 and his spendthrift wife, ------ trashing the Constitution at every turn, trashing the economy, and blaming everything on Bush! We can't wait until Jan. 20th.!

lowlow
lowlow

There is one thing that should give democrats some solace.  Never in my lifetime, and I'm old, has there been a candidate with less restrictions placed on his ability to cross the aisle to get something done.  Do you think Trump is going to listen if McConnell or Ryan says "You can't do that, my Congressional party members won't allow it!!!  I think those two may even be smart enough to understand that won't work.  So do we as Republicans trade some social issues for economic wants? Maybe and let's deal.  Some things however are off the table and require no gives to get - namely Obamacare gone, chief justice selections, repeal of energy executive orders and probably tax reforms and cuts.  Those issues were central to the campaigns of both sides and were won last night and are non-negotiable.  My hope is unlike Bush and Obama, Trump can cross the aisle.  Wild Bill was pretty good at it but had to tread water lightly with his own party.  Trump will not have to tread anything.   Let's play ball and get some things done.

bu2
bu2

@lowlow I doubt the Democrats will play ball.  Except right after 911 when the nation's security was at stake, they were constantly vilifying W.  They will be far worse.  W. worked very well across the aisle with a Democratic majority in Texas, but those Democrats were Texans first and Democrats second.  It didn't work that way with DC Democrats.

Tommy Harris
Tommy Harris

GOD: TRUMP: PENCE AND WE THE PEOPLE DID IT

Frazier Livingston
Frazier Livingston

If Republicans don't produce now there is no excuse. The people will be watching !

UGAdawg34
UGAdawg34

What does produce mean? People who work actually see the fruits of their labor and people don't get free s#$%?

~moonbat_betty~
~moonbat_betty~

lol 

ABC is already attacking Melania and Trump.

Yeah, the left supports immigrants and women as long as you vote their way.

Stay classy libs.

Once their brutal hangover subsides, they will wake up like angry hornets.

It's only just begun.

Get some hornet spray.

Beth Johnson
Beth Johnson

No! That's where your wrong!!!! We didn't do this because if it would have been up to the people, HILLARY would be in office, it was the electoral votes and only the electoral votes that got him in office!!!

Faye Johnson
Faye Johnson

Thank you Beth Johnson,you are so right. Some ppl. just don't get it.

ZAZ
ZAZ

Geez, another numb skull who refuses to educate herself on the constitution and why the electoral college process was chosen by our founding fathers. 

Beth Johnson
Beth Johnson

Belinda Shirley Demirjian forget it your oblivious of what's even going on

Belinda Shirley Demirjian
Belinda Shirley Demirjian

Melissa, Dems love to bait, and to deflect their problems back on others. These "ladies" are running scared, and can't find any other audience for their attacks.

Melissa Novak
Melissa Novak

Don't worry Belinda they are scared to go to work babies need a bottle tonight hahshaha

Beth Johnson
Beth Johnson

Who's the BIGGEST loser of all? MELISSA NOVAK!!

Faye Johnson
Faye Johnson

Melissa Novak you really are a sick human. You my dear will cry a few tears within the next 4 yrs.Get a real LIFE !!!!!

Beth Johnson
Beth Johnson

So now we are stooping to name calling Melissa? LOL that's a trump supporter for ya

Travis Smith
Travis Smith

I encourage you to gain an understanding of why we use the electoral college to elect our President. If you truly do understand then it's just sour grapes on your part.

Melissa Novak
Melissa Novak

Faye Johnson loser that works to take care of others!! Trump\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8

Melissa Novak
Melissa Novak

Time for Trump!!\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8

Melissa Novak
Melissa Novak

You people are rioting because you didn't win burning our flag really??? Bye bye sorry losers

Beth Johnson
Beth Johnson

Melissa you need to grow up and check your sugar daddy out a little closer, you will be sorry he got into office. You think you can be a smartass because your there and I'm here. Your mature and clueless lol!!!

Faye Johnson
Faye Johnson

You're the only Loser,Melissa Novak. You're sooooo bad on this page.\U0001f621\U0001f621

Melissa Novak
Melissa Novak

Beth Johnson you are a fool I take care of myself. Trump\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8

Melissa Novak
Melissa Novak

Belinda Shirley Demirjian I'm being attacked for my beliefs. I'm a loser now because I work hard have morals and dont need help from the government.

Melissa Novak
Melissa Novak

Won't argue with you fools I have a sugar daddy people like you make me sick. I'm a grown women taking care of responsibilities. Grow up go cry in your corner. Bye. Trump\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8\U0001f1fa\U0001f1f8

Beth Johnson
Beth Johnson

LOL LOL YOU MUST BE A TRUMP SUPPORTER TO!! LOOSER!