I always knew I lived in a different America than the rest of the country, an America perhaps best illustrated by the iconic March 29, 1976, New Yorker magazine cover of how the country west of the Hudson River looks to Manhattanites.
In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s stunning victory over Hillary Clinton, forged to the west of the Hudson, I am left to wonder if, in the words of his one-time Republican adversary, Ted Cruz, “Trump has New York values”?
Does he have compassion for the needy? Does he welcome the immigrant striving for a new, better, pluralistic life? Does he respect all religions? Does he value education? Does he recognize the benefits of diversity? Does he favor mass transit alternatives over the stranglehold of the automobile industry? Does he accept climate change and the need to combat its effects?
The record from his campaign suggests he does not. But Trump’s persona has been shaped by living all his life in New York City. He’s brash, for sure, not afraid to display his emotions on his sleeve, or in his case, through his Twitter feed. As president he will have to learn to reign in his feelings, lest he trigger a response that could have national or international repercussions.
In his victory speech, he promised to be the president of all the people. Let’s see if he can stem the violence in the Afro-American community without infringing on constitutional rights, and if he can reduce unemployment among Blacks. He’s promised to repeal and replace Obamacare. But can he do it without reducing the number of people enrolled, for less money, for at least the same level of coverage?
Voting patterns across the country revealed deep chasms. As the Associated Press noted,
“Exit polls underscored the fractures: Women nationwide supported Clinton by a double-digit margin, while men were significantly more likely to back Trump. More than half of white voters backed the Republican, while nearly 9 in 10 blacks and two-thirds of Hispanics voted for the Democrat.”
The Trump campaign unleashed dark voices long subdued but never eradicated. Racists. Neo-nazis. Anti-Semites. Misogynists. Xenophobes. All now have a president who will enter the White House largely because of their votes.
One wonders if Trump will be able to bridle his natural tendency to lash out at detractors. Nixon had his enemies list. Will Trump? Will he follow through on his campaign threat to name a special prosecutor with the ultimate aim of jailing his election opponent? Will he sue the women who asserted he physically invaded their privacy? Will he seek a softening of libel laws to punish the press? Will the voices of late night talk show hosts who lampooned him and editorial boards and columnists be muted?
Of course, not everyone in the country is apoplectic about the election. No doubt, couture designers are ecstatic they will have Melania to drape. She, after all, has more eye appeal than Bill Clinton would have had as First Spouse or Hillary as President.
But comparing Melania to Michelle Obama in intellect is laughable. Consider her statement within the last week that she would like to work to eliminate bullying, especially cyber-bullying. Perhaps she might start with her bedmate who ran his whole campaign as a slur-a-thon on stage and on Twitter.
It was nectar to the masses who believe Trump can change market and global forces. Do they really believe, as he does, that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese? Do they believe he truly can revive Rust Belt industries when corporate chieftains shift jobs overseas because lower paid global workers no longer produce shoddy products? They chanted along with him “drain the swamp,” but do they truly want Washington to stop being the watchdog over food and drug safety, worker safety, and water and air quality, to name just a few vital tasks of government?
With Republicans in control of both chambers of Congress and the White House the country’s pivot to the right is a given. The Supreme Court will again have a conservative majority, as it has for decades.
Perhaps the most important person in the next four years will be Justice Anthony Kennedy. In several cases on personal freedoms, he has provided a decisive vote in decisions expanding gay rights to the rights of the accused. He’s by no means a sure vote for liberal causes, but he’s not doctrinaire conservative.
I woke up Wednesday morning after barely 90 minutes of stressful sleep to a changed world. During the night I avoided reading post-mortem articles, instead playing solitaire over and over again on my iPhone. Though I did read one article, from Politico, which enraged and convinced me not to read any other (for now). Entitled “Inside the Loss Clinton Saw Coming,” the article described how her staff knew for weeks the campaign was in trouble.
I felt annoyed, annoyed they allowed complacency to set in as the public took for granted that an unqualified Trump would lose to a more seasoned Clinton.
Trump won because he was perceived as real. Really angry. Really mean. Really for change. Really for the forgotten man and woman.
Forget the reality. Voters opted for the perception.