We’re just two days away from the launch of the 2020 campaign for president. Actually, potential candidates probably will wait at least a week before they start to wander the farmlands of Iowa.
But it’s coming, as soon as we deal with the little matter of the election Tuesday. No matter who wins Tuesday, be ready for the Wednesday War.
There are about 330 million Americans I would’ve preferred to be on the ballot than the two major party candidates. But unless a crazy scientist pulls up to my house in a DeLorean in the next 48 hours, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be president-elect by nightfall Wednesday.
I’ve made my choice, and I’m as comfortable with it as I can be. I didn’t vote last Saturday for Donald Trump as much as I voted against Hillary Clinton. Six months earlier – hell, three weeks earlier – I was prepared to write in anyone so as not to sully my conscience. But my conscience wouldn’t let me. I had to register my opposition to Hillary by voting for the candidate with the best chance to defeat her in the hope that she is defeated.
Our elections take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Election Day is not a finish line, it’s a checkpoint. The next day the political war starts anew.
Whoever wins, the fight for conservative values will continue and, in many ways, be more difficult.
If Trump wins, there’s a decent chance he’ll be a hands-off president. Aside from a wall on our southern border and a few other specifics, he might defer to Mike Pence and other advisors. Pence’s conservatism is solid, but many in his inner circle have some blind spots. No matter who he appoints, they and he will need to be held in check.
Trump’s mouth coupled with his propensity to attack his own party hasn’t won him any friends in Congress. Getting key legislation, such as Obamacare repeal and replacement, will require working with people with whom he’s earned relatively few favors. Many Republicans will push against repeal and opt for a fix instead. Trump has talked of repeal, but until the rubber meets the road there is no way to know how serious he is.
If Democrats take the Senate, all of this is a non-starter.
Either way, it will be a war. And this is just one of many issues.
If Hillary wins, it means a different war. It means four years of war.
If the House remains in Republican hands, as it should, and the Senate remains narrowly controlled by the GOP, as it might, expect Clinton to embrace the imperial president model. Her “magic pen” will make the executive actions taken by President Obama look quaint by comparison.
How Congress would respond to more blatant circumventing of the Constitution we can only guess. Under Obama, Republicans were timid, to put it mildly. They’d tisk-tisk and complain, but little else. Rather than use their constitutional powers, such as the power of the purse, they opted to let the courts play backstop. That didn’t work on Obamacare or other areas, and it was cowardly to boot.
There is little reason to believe congressional Republicans will act any different when the media calls them “sexist” than they did with being called “racist” last year. At least not without serious prodding from conservatives. In other words: war.
One thing Hillary and Trump will have against them, aside from motivated conservatives, is the reality of being the least-popular president in history from the start of their “honeymoon” period. John Quincy Adams and Rutherford Hayes were unpopular in their time, but social media and 24-hour news cycles give everyone a megaphone to have their thoughts heard.
The only unknown is whether conservatives, whether for or against Trump, will be willing to engage and recapture the spirit of the Tea Party in 2010, which they’ve let slip away since.
If Clinton wins, it depends on whether conservatives are motivated or disheartened. She will bowl over Congress like she’s steamrolled our nation’s laws…if we allow her.
With the prospect of indictments hanging over her head and those of her closest allies, she will be seriously damaged on day one. If Republicans hold the Senate, they can oppose her Supreme Court nominations and legislative agenda. But they’ll need help because recent history suggests they won’t do it on their own. Intestinal fortitude has to come externally. It has to come from people who care enough to keep up the fight; willing to go to war.
Tuesday is the end of a long and crazy election cycle, but it’s not the end of the fight. As the saying goes, “politics is war by other means.” That war, principled political war, is never ending. Voting ends a battle; the war rages on…provided principled people retain the will to fight it.
A Final Note Before Election Day:
When I was “Never Trump” I was simply speaking for myself. Unlike many, I didn’t advocate others follow my lead. In the past few weeks I’ve seen more and more anger from them, gleeful anger of conservatives supporting the idea of defeating Donald for some imagined personal vendetta. That’s a big part of the reason I changed my mind. I saw their activism inadvertently became pro-Clinton. It’s one thing to make a personal choice; it’s another to have a personal mission.
Your vote is your vote, and how you cast it is your business alone. Too many have made their vote their mission; made it personal, like Trump killed their dog or something. They feel compelled to convince others not to vote for him. To me, that’s where the line is crossed from a conscientious objector to an activist on Hillary’s behalf.
I never bought into the “not voting for him is a vote for her” mantra. As I said, it’s that person’s vote to do with what they will. But to work to stop others from voting for him is campaigning for her. That’s making it personal. If she wins, and that’s more likely than not, I want to be able to say I did all I could to prevent it, and I’ll get to work trying to mitigate the damage she will unquestionably do. Many have forfeited that ground.
Total responsibility will not lie with those who made it their mission to defeat Trump, it’s doubtful they’ll be the difference-makers, but a portion of her actions will be at their feet. Their conscience won’t let them recognize this, at least publicly, but I hope it motivates them to join in this war. In a Trump administration they’d have some receptive ears - in a Clinton administration they’ll be shut out. The moral high horse can only keep you so clean when you’re trekking through the mud of four years of Hillary Clinton in the White House.