"There's three ways to do things: the right way, the wrong way, and the Max Power way!" - Max Power
"Isn't that the wrong way?" - Bart Simpson
"Yeah, but faster!" - Max Power
First things first: I was wrong. Between the polls, the "fundamentals" (decent economy, popular incumbent), and the fact that Trump was running a disastrous looking campaign both up front (scandal after scandal) and in back (no discernible ground game), Trump 2016 looked set for a catastrophic election night. Twas not to be.
It is no consolation that I have a lot of company. Nate Silver of 538 was taking a lot of heat the last few days for daring to suggest that Trump was only *very likely* to lose, and not *certain* to lose. He was wrong too, just less wrong than many of his competitors.
But enough of that. There will be finger pointing a plenty and it will take weeks or longer before there's a coherent tale to tell about just how Donald J. Trump pulled off this most improbable of electoral victories. That won't stop the same pundits who got this so comprehensively wrong from opining, of course. But even the most sober and analytic takes right now are guesswork, and there's plenty of blame to go around.
What we do know is that Donald Trump is going to be the President of the United States. He is going to appoint at least one Supreme Court Justice and possibly more. He is going to have Republican majorities in both houses of Congress that will send him all kinds of right wing dream legislation from upper class tax cuts to repealing Obamacare to defunding PBS and Planned Parenthood. Maybe they'll finally do away with the Department of Education just for fun. Assuming the Republicans eliminate the filibuster (which everyone expects them to do, not that "everyone" has a great track record of predictions of late), it's going to be open season.
In terms of foreign policy, it's really anyone's guess. Trump himself seems basically uninterested, and the Republican Party isn't exactly short of foreign policy "experts" who will be happy to bend his ear about what to do in various parts of the world. The viziers will be running things, and which ones he takes a shine to will have huge consequences for the world. If we're lucky, he'll pick guys (and it will be guys, let's not kid ourselves) who won't rock the boat too badly. If we're not lucky, we'll be bombing Syria before spring and NATO will be a memory by next winter.
The most likely outcome is a repeat of the rolling degradation of America that was the Bush the Younger Administration. The Super Bowl will still be held. Blockbuster movies will continue to fill the multi-plexes. Cable news will yammer about nothing most days. Beneath the surface, however, the country will erode.
Like Bush the Younger, Trump has no reality based solutions to the problems that afflict our country. His plans amount to little more than the usual Republican litany of tax cuts for the rich and friendlier government oversight of big business. The Republican Congress isn't going to let him depart from that in any but the most superficial ways. It'll be the same old Republican fantasies about personal responsibility paying for medical care, fewer regulations bringing manufacturing jobs back, and lower taxes on rich people making the economy boom. None of it has worked before, and there's no reason to think any of it will work now.
The economy will become more concentrated in the hands of those who already have more than they can spend. The laws and democratic norms that keep this giant nation together will be flouted in ways that would've been scandalous and are now merely routine. The gap between the daily, lived experiences of white Americans and brown Americans will expand. The seas will rise faster than they otherwise would have. And those are just the real problems. The not real problems, things like having to press 1 for English when you call your cable company, will also continue.
And that's the real flaw in Donald Trump: he's full of shit and he cannot deliver on his promises. He promised to fix everything, yet will be unable to fix anything. He has bad solutions for real problems, and imaginary solutions to non problems. And as he spends the next four years presiding over a worsening reality, real people - people who voted for him - will continue to get squeezed and angry.
Where things go from there? Who knows? The one thing we can say for certain is that the real pain that propelled Trump this far will still be with us in 2018, and 2020, and the damage he does in the meantime will take a long time to repair.