Postmortem 2016

Laura Hollis
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Posted: Nov 10, 2016 12:01 AM
Postmortem 2016

Four years ago, I wrote a column that went viral, offering a few observations about President Obama’s re-election. This year presents the opportunity to reflect in a similar fashion on the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States. 

1. We didn’t want the left’s “fundamental transformation.”

The left has hornswoggled Americans for years with obfuscating language like “tolerance” and “choice.” Having slowly but steadily permeated academia, the media, and the entertainment industry, it needed only to get control of government -- which it got with Barack Obama -- to go all-in. Over the past eight years, it became abundantly clear that the left’s endgame was not “tolerance,” but a jackbooted determination to use every lever of government to force their ideologies down our throats. America is basically a live-and-let-live country. Progressivism is anything but. They overplayed their hand, and Americans pushed back. Don’t look for this to change anytime soon.

2. Immigration matters.

Cries of “racism!” and “xenophobia!” notwithstanding, there are legitimate fiscal stability and national security issues associated with illegal immigration that is deliberately left unpoliced, and immigration laws that are deliberately left unenforced. We cannot afford to support millions of people pouring across our border, nor can we risk what Europe is facing: hordes of undocumented refugees who are being used as screens for an admittedly small handful of evil people who can do damage disproportionate to their numbers. The left treats such concerns as beneath contempt. The American voters disagreed.

3. At some point, you compromise enough principles to lose the moral high ground.

Liberals and progressives view themselves as the moral superiors of conservatives. In support of their argument, they often point to their history of support for civil rights, and efforts to alleviate poverty and other human suffering. Leaving aside that conservatives also work toward these and other worthy objectives, look at what we’ve witnessed this campaign: collusion with the press, manipulation of the primary process, bragging about voter fraud, shocking violence directed toward Trump supporters, deceit and pay-to-play allegations and breaches of professional ethics at the highest levels of the Democrat Party. It’s time the Democrats take a good long look in the mirror; their self-perception needs a serious adjustment. 

4. Lady smarts beat lady parts.

The Democrats won in 2012 by creating a “war on women” out of whole cloth. This year, they played from the same deck by demonizing anyone who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton as sexist. They are still saying it. A woman can succeed in America, can run for president, and can win. But American men and women in significant numbers (42 percent of women voted for Trump. Or against Clinton, take your pick) rejected Clinton’s policies, her duplicity and her perceived corruption. This has nothing to do with her being female, and insisting that it does only ensures that the left will continue to be blindsided by the very people they refuse to understand. 

5. The Clintons got greedy.

First lady, United States senator, and secretary of state were never enough; Clinton had decided years ago that she was entitled to the presidency. 2008 was going to be her year. Upstaged by the talented and telegenic Barack Obama, she got pushed back to 2016. But it became clear early on in this campaign cycle that the candidate whose message was resonating with the left’s voter base was Bernie Sanders, not Clinton. Instead of embracing a path to Democrat victory, Clinton and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz conspired to wrest the nomination away from Sanders, alienating millions of voters. I suspect that a Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren ticket -- especially up against Trump -- would have produced a different result. 

6. The corrupt media is -- still -- the enemy.

I’ve been crying in the wilderness on this issue for two decades. But now everyone knows it, thanks to Project Veritas and WikiLeaks. The press hasn’t been just in the tank for the Democrats, they were on the team, sharing information, fielding questions and covering up for misconduct. The American media has been utterly discredited, and the fallout from this has yet to be fully appreciated.

7. This is what a big tent looks like.

For whatever else one can say about it, the Trump campaign proved that Republicans can attract a diverse voter base. And Trump did: record numbers of evangelicals, gays (most visibly, instigator Milo Yiannopoulos), Libertarians, African-Americans (Trump got 8 percent of the black vote; twice Mitt Romney’s number), and of course, the working-class support that put him over the top. It will be interesting to see how the GOP plans to replicate that.

8. Trump and the GOP do have a mandate.

I wrote in 2012 that President Obama neither had a mandate, nor needed one. His subsequent comments (“I have a pen and a phone”) and conduct proved me right. One might argue that since half the country voted against Donald Trump, he has no mandate, either. But this election was the third part of a People’s Trifecta: in 2010, in a furious reaction to Democrats’ unilateral passage of Obamacare, voters gave Republicans control of the House of Representatives. In 2014, the GOP were given control of the Senate. (It’s worth remembering that the press called those elections wrong, as well.) Yesterday, control of Congress was preserved and the Republican candidate took the White House. Voters’ message to the GOP is clear: Do what we’ve sent you to Washington to do.

If past is precedent, the GOP will have two years in which to accomplish something, before the midterm elections hand control of Congress back to the Democrats. 

They’d better get cracking.