Trump’s victory is bad in the short-term, but potentially great in the long-term

Without a doubt, the worst part of Trump’s victory is the fact that he will get to appoint at least one justice to the Supreme Court. Antonin Scalia’s death was likely the greatest political news of the century, so it’s doubtful that Trump will be able to find someone as bad as he was. Unfortunately, if he gets to replace Ginsburg, it won’t matter who he picks to replace Scalia or her. He’s going to get to add a conservative justice, swinging the court further to the right.

However, despite the problems of the Supreme Court, a Trump victory is not significantly worse than had Romney won in 2012 (or any other Republican for this election). No progress would be made on global warming under either scenario. The NSA would continue to fundamentally (and with fucking glee) violate the rights of literally every single American. Brown people overseas would keep getting droned. None of that would be different just because Trump happens to also be a bad person. Indeed, with the exception of Democrat lip service towards global warming, all of those things would be the same had Clinton won. We are not in a significantly different position in most areas.

So how is this better in the long-term? Consider the real difference between Clinton and Trump. It isn’t on spying or hawkish foreign policy or spending. It’s almost entirely in their rhetoric. Clinton, while ethically questionable through-and-through, isn’t crass. She has some basic decency in how she expresses herself. Trump, on the other hand, is a raging moron who mocks disabled reporters and grabs women by the pussy. His outsider nature was able to override people’s disgust with him as a person, but that novelty will fade. And as it does, we’re going to see a continued split amongst Republican voters. Combine that with the minor defections we’re going to see from Democrats who weren’t happy with the DNC primary rigging, and we have the perfect storm for the rise of a third party.

I’m not sure which third party we might see in 2020, but whichever one it is, it will have to to be the middle of the road. The Libertarians fit that bill, but the problem with them is that people conflate libertarianism as a political movement with libertarianism as a philosophy. Any political theory must take reality into account whereas the same isn’t true of philosophy. The Libertarian party isn’t rigid in its views, and neither was its candidate, but that didn’t matter to people because they know the philosophy is much more straight-forward. I can’t remember how many times someone told me Gary Johnson believed x when, in fact, he didn’t. People would assume he believed x because it would be consistent with libertarian philosophy to do so, but they never bothered to actually look up what he said. (For instance, did you know Johnson wanted to eliminate the EPA? Crazy, right? Except he didn’t. In fact, he cited the EPA as a well-run government agency that he supported.)

If people on one side or the other try to rise up with a third party, however, it will fail. We saw that with the Tea Party, and we see it every time the Green party gets a little momentum. These ultra-right and ultra-left groups are inherently on the fringes. They can’t succeed because they can never draw nearly enough of the people from the center. Just consider the 3 main third party candidates. Gary Johnson was the closest to the middle, so he did the best. Jill Stein? She’s far-left, so she did poorly. Evan McMullin? Even when we recognize his limited ballot access, he still had no chance of pulling anyone from the Clinton camp.

This is my great hope from the election. We desperately need a viable third party, and disgust with Trump can fuel that. For whatever negative consequences he may bring, his presidency may prove to be the end of the two party duopoly.

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One Response

  1. I do hope you are right about Trump in the long run, though he scares me. As a Brit, looking on helplessly from across the pond, I can’t help noticing parallels between the Trump campaign, and our own recent Brexit referendum (or “Brexshit” as I call it). Both campaigns involved far right wing-nuts, scare-mongering, xenophobia, empty slogans and outright lying. And the nutters won both times, in defiance of the opinion polls, and aided by an ineffectual and unpopular opposition. At least you will have a chance to get rid of Trump in four years’ time. We Brits do not have that option with Brexshit. It is permanent.

    We also suffer the same “either or” political duopoly. Either the spendthrift left wing/socialist Labour Party, or the austere right-wing Conservative (Tory) Party, whose anti-EU, anti-immigrant sentiments brought the Brexshit pox upon us. Yet we have a middle party, the Liberal Democrats: socially liberal, fiscally prudent, pro-EU, and not full of climate-change deniers, homophobes, xenophobes and assorted fruitcakes. But they can only muster a handful of seats in parliament, and were hammered at the last election, so now even the Scots nationalists outnumber them. So people who agree with their policies will still not vote for them, because so few others will either (probably for the same reason), making theirs’ seem like a wasted vote. A self-fulfilling, self-defeating attitude, I cannot think of any way to effectively combat. I will continue to vote Lib. Dem., as that is what my reason and conscience tell me, but I despair of a political system that denies a significant fraction of the electorate a presence in parliament that truly represents their numbers in the population.

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