Polls began closing on the east coast by 6pm, which is 3pm here in the Pacific Northwest. I didn’t watch the blow by blow as returns came in — rare for a political junkie like me. Memories of the 2016 presidential upset are still too painful. I expected a Trump presidency to be bad, and it’s been as bad or worse than anything I could have anticipated.
Longer term, I’m concerned about Republican structural forces, all intentional and geared toward keeping power, that give Republicans the edge — a minority in this country but a wealthy one combined with a fearful older white bloc that votes. This edge often holds despite the popular vote and clear preferences around the country for sensible gun control, immigration reform, respect for women’s reproductive rights, infrastructure investment, health care expansion. I’ve mentioned those structural forces before: voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the hard right justices on the Supreme Court and federal bench.
Shorter term, we have needs across the country that our legislators should be attending to, but gridlock makes progress a reach. Infrastructure is one widespread need, in urban and rural areas alike. Seattle, like other cities, has an old sewage system with mostly clay pipes. There is a bad blockage right in front of my favorite Queen Anne breakfast place, which necessitated closing the restaurant for a couple of days last week because roots invaded the sewer line and caused a messy and unsanitary plumbing backup. The immediate blockage is cleared, but the line out to the street needs to be replaced — which will cause another restaurant closure. The hourly servers don’t get paid when they don’t work. I met there on Tuesday morning for breakfast with a friend, and our server asked me if I understood quite why Trump is ginning up fear over a migrant pilgrimage that is hundreds of miles from our border while paying no attention to the vast sums needed to upgrade the sewer system.
Trump is a reality TV president. There are no ratings bumps to be had talking about sewage.
I hoped the election would be a sharp rebuke to Trump’s governing philosophy of fear mongering and corruption. It was not, as I had hoped, a blue wave — not as long as Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum and Beto lost. But it was, as Van Jones said on CNN, a rainbow wave: women elected. Veterans elected. Gay and Lesbian and Muslim and Native Americans elected.
We have something to build on from here.