So now it appears that Mr. Hyde is hidden, and Dr. Jekyll has come out. It’s hard to know what to make of that. Trump has completely reversed his opinion of both Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama, both of whom he’s warmly complimented in the last two days. It is, of course, completely opposite what he has said about them during the campaign, but contradictions have not exactly been unusual for him. In a way, it’s reminiscent of his meeting with Enrique Peña Nieto, the president of Mexico, during which he was all smiles and conciliation; he seemed cowed by the presence of a head of state. That didn’t last 24 hours; by that evening, back across the border, he was his old obstreperous self again, apparently to the extent of lying about what was discussed during the meeting.
Many people who supported Trump, and presumably voted for him, are holding out an olive branch, saying that what Trump said during the campaign was just rhetoric, and he’ll calm down now that he’s been elected. I can’t help feeling that if we don’t fall in line, we will feel the sting of that olive branch, converted into a whip.
I caught the tail end of an interview on the radio with a CEO who supported Trump. Her take was that, yes, Trump is a jerk, but he has a talent for hiring competent people to actually run his businesses, so his personality is irrelevant. I’m not sure reducing his unprecedented gall to merely annoying is justifiable, but there is a ray of hope, albeit small and not very satisfying. If Trump appoints normal Republicans to his administration, and goes off to play golf, his administration will only be a normal Republican disaster, that is, slightly mitigated rather than unmitigated.
The big question for the rest of us is, what next? The Democratic Party is in disarray at the moment. I doubt that will last, but we’re between the proverbial rock and a hard place. Does the party move to the right, to try to accommodate moderate Republicans, or does it move left, and offer its own brand of populism?
I doubt very much that ideology played any part in the election of Donald J. Trump. We brought, as they say, a knife to a gun fight, and now we’re licking our wounds and arguing about what kind of knife to bring to the next one.
There are almost as many reasons given for his victory as there are pundits, desperately trying to salvage their reputations, after failing miserably to predict almost everything about the election. There is, however, one factor which I find the most disturbing. NPR reported on All Things Considered yesterday on a new app-centric polling company called Brigade, which found in results from election day that as much as 40% of registered Democrats crossed over to vote for Trump.
In a campaign full of ingenious imagery, the one that sticks with me is that people just wanted someone who would tip over the table, reset the process to point zero.
We can only hope that Trump is a one-off, and when people see his policies in action, they will be disabused of their illusions, and we can pick it up from there. Right now, I see neither hope nor despair, just a long wait.