Northern lights on US election VI : trying to be positive about democracy in America 2016, as it happens …

Nov 8th, 2016 | By | Category: In Brief

TORONTO, CANADA. TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8. 1:30 PM ET. I too have been called by the doctor with an almost final assignment in the most troubling US election in my memory. (Well that’s the way it seems right now. I’m so old  I can’t really remember all that much. Except that I haven’t liked the results of many US and other elections in my time. That’s democracy.)

“Just start now,” the doctor said. “And try to write down positive impressions about what may actually prove to be a historic election – based on your vantage point in our communications centre, watching US TV, and your time on the net in your office. Just try to make us feel good for a change. Jot down short notes that you keep updating as the day and night wears on.” Well OK, OK, I finally replied. I don’t know how positive any of this will be. But here’s a start :

* 1:45 PM ET. I’ve been surprised by just how good the CNN coverage of the election has been. That may be because it is, as some Trump official said, the Clinton News Network. But that’s not what I think. I just think it has been good coverage. Generally fair, accurate, and not crazy.

* 1: 50 PM ET. I just caught Nicolle Wallace saying something that impressed me in a clip on MSNBC. I don’t have her exact words but it was something like : ‘It’s the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning, or the beginning of the beginning, or the end of the end. No one knows, and anyone who tells you they do is lying.’ (Nicolle Wallace also reminds me of a certain type of girl I coveted in vain light years ago in high school, but that’s only slightly important. To me her intellectual conclusion here is right on.)

* 3:00 PM ET. From the emails Rachel Maddow sends to her many fans (including me), a piece by Steve Benen : “Yesterday, Gallup’s daily tracking poll put Obama’s approval rating at 56%. Among modern two-term presidents, that puts Obama ahead of Reagan’s standing at this point in 1988 and just behind Bill Clinton’s backing at this point in 2000 … In fact, Obama is actually more popular now than he was when he was re-elected four years ago.”

* 7:15 PM ET/4:15 PM PT.  An aging commentator on ABC News has just expressed his concern that the political divisions in the country have become so toxic that no one is going to be able to govern over the next few years, regardless of who wins tonight. Meanwhile Trump has already taken Indiana and Kentucky. And Clinton has won Bernie Sanders’s Vermont.

* 8:45 PM ET / 5:45 PT. My impression from MSNBC at the moment is that things are not going as well for Hillary as we progressives might like. Rachel has just pointed out that most Democrat players did not expect Virginia to be undecided at this point in the evening. It’s also starting to look like Trump will finally take a close race in Florida. Steve Schmidt : reds getting redder, blues getting bluer. (Personally : thinking about having a beer from the office fridge …)

* 9:45 PM ET / 6:45 PM PT. My gloomy impression at this moment, from the numbers and virtually all the TV commentary, is that it is now likely enough Donald Trump will become the next president of the USA, in a big surprise Brexit II of the English-speaking world. It may also be that the 1995 second  Quebec referendum in Canada will finally offer more hopeful guidance. And Hillary Clinton will slip in by a few electoral votes at some point tomorrow morning – once California and the Pacific Northwest join in. Yet, whatever happens, as almost everyone on TV seems to be saying, this has to go down as a surprisingly good night for Donald Trump.  With god knows just what ultimate consequences for planet earth! For the moment again, I’m unhappily reminded of my September 7 note in this series : “Northern lights on US election II : What if Conrad Black is right and Donald Trump actually wins ????”

* WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 12:15 AM ET / TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 9:15 PM PT. It now certainly looks as if Hillary Clinton has virtually no likely path to the required 270 electoral votes. And the commentators on TV are starting to talk about President Trump and just what that might actually mean. (Amid reports about chants of “Lock her up, lock her up” at the Trump headquarters in New York City.) It is of course part of democracy to accept the vote of the sovereign people. President Trump may not quite be official yet, but it is starting to seem that this is what we will all have to start getting used to. It’s not the first US election result I have personally found appalling. My most immediate instinct is just to cultivate our own garden up here in the northern woods. And let President Trump and his fellow Republicans in the USA, USA worry about themselves. Democracy in America in its deepest sense still has a future, no doubt. And it will fight again another day. Meanwhile all who admire this seriously great political legacy will continue to carry a torch in the wider global village …

* WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 9, 3:00 AM ET / 12:00 PM PT. Donald Trump has now won 279 electoral votes and is the president-elect. Hillary Clinton has phoned and congratulated him. He has made some generous enough remarks at his headquarters about how hard his opponent has fought, and how much he wants to be the president of all the people. To me the clearest thing he said was that he plans to rebuild the outworn infrastructure of the USA.

Those of us who live in Toronto, Canada are bound to see some similarity with the mayoral victory of the late Rob Ford, back in 2010. Nobody thought it could happen, but it did. We somehow lived through the next four years, and no doubt the USA will do the same now.

It does seem that Donald Trump and his new Republican party have won all three US elected political prizes  – House, Senate, and Presidency. If they do have magical solutions to what they say  ails the American body politic (and economic) they will have every chance to implement them.

The Democrats will have to reconstruct themselves, to pick up the pieces in case what President Donald Trump has in mind just does not work in the end. And presumably there will be another election in 2020, to test these waters.

Meanwhile, up here in the northern woods we will carry on with life in the Canadian confederation of 1867 (in the wake of the US Civil War), whose 150th anniversary we will celebrate next year, with a Liberal federal government in office at Ottawa, after almost 10 years of Conservative minority and majority government under Stephen Harper. (Which we also somehow managed to survive intact.)

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