Few people in the galaxy aren’t in need of a nice, long holiday after the deaths, the elections, and the deaths by election that have characterized 2016. These past 12 months have been taxing. The group that really needs to be put on mandatory vacation—starting now, and through New Year’s weekend, with no obligations other than daily meditation—is what remains of the Democratic Party. Democrats need to close the books on 2016 without somehow losing a thumb in the process. Monday’s Electoral College oopsie-daisy was the last straw, and mandatory restraint from further calendar-year Democratic beclownment is duly ordered.
This was the Year of Democratic Self-Owns. You know the pattern. It is marked by some hoped-for development that in theory would crush Republicans but, at the moment of action, embarrasses Democrats in ways that should have been foreseeable. Obviously we are speaking here of Democrats’ hope that the Republican Party would nominate Donald J. Trump for president. The Republican Party did its part and gave the Democrats a nominee who could not win. In response, the Democrats nominated one of their own. The stoppable force met the movable object and won on an electoral coin flip. In a few weeks, Donald J. Trump, the name-leasing tradesman popularized on television’s The Celebrity Apprentice, will preside over a unified Republican federal government working in close coordination with state-level unified Republican governments to remake the country in their image.
Think of all the misplaced confidences along the way.
Let’s go all the way back to late 2014 and the then-popular theory that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would retain Barack Obama’s “rising American electorate” coalition of unmarried women, minorities, and young people while performing leaps and bounds better than Obama among the white working class. Clinton allies were talking about putting Indiana, Missouri, and Arkansas in play. The members of the white working class had other ideas, and they cost Clinton the election.
Then there was the idea that the fractious Republican primary and the repugnant, visibly unstable nominee it produced would make masses of moderate Republicans ripe for the plucking. The plan worked great in Orange County, California, which doesn’t matter. The larger problem was the dissatisfaction of certain Democratic voters with their own nominee in places that matter, such as Wisconsin and Michigan.
Donald Trump, the thinking went, would be screwed because he didn’t have enough money to blanket the airwaves with ads. Television ads don’t matter much on the presidential level, though, and Clinton both wasted time and reinforced her out-of-touch image by grubbing for money all the time.
And if all else failed, “the model” would be there to solve everything. There was no earthly way the model would fail to detect election-deciding problems on the ground, right?
Everything Democrats put their confidence in this year didn’t just peter out. It turned around and kicked its masters in the ass.
This track record made it hard not to laugh at the result of Monday’s experiment with “faithless electors.” There were greater than zero liberals who put their hope in an Electoral College coup on Monday, which meant there were greater than zero people who were egregiously misled into building expectations.
There were a record number of faithless electors in Monday’s tally: seven, besting the 208-year-old record of six. But five of them were Clinton defectors, compared with only two Trump defectors in Texas. Not all of these Clinton defectors would have gone that way had the election depended on them, and with the gap as large as it was, a few protest votes were there for the spending. But it was still a humiliation sharing vital characteristics with previous 2016 humiliations. Like the 2016 election, an effort to exploit Republican unease with Trump overestimated Republican unease and underestimated Democratic division. False confidence led to ignorance of everything else.
Liberals are concussed and need to be carted off until the new Congress begins. Everyone will have plenty of work to do in the new year in terms of normal politics: trying to block ideological right-wing legislation, making use of confirmation hearings, and drawing up a two-to-four-year plan for capturing more state legislative chambers and governors’ mansions. These would be “good” investments of time and mental energy.
Immediately trying to impeach Donald Trump, on the other hand, would be a “bad” investment of time and mental energy. It is not going to happen. Not one person in this country should build up the expectation that this is something that will happen when Congress returns. Maybe discussing it delegitimizes him; more likely it’s a waste of time. Liberals’ track record in 2016 tells me that if they were to engage with the possibility of impeaching Trump, anyway, Democratic members would somehow find themselves all voting for their own expulsion from Congress, in the unlikely event that they didn’t all simultaneously slip on banana peels while walking to the chamber for the vote.
No more hijinks until Jan. 3, everyone. Enjoy the holidays. Go to the movies—for fun, not as research for political thinkpieces on Medium.