The good news is that we dodged a bullet in this election. The bad news is that we don’t know how many other bullets are coming, or from what direction.
A Hillary Clinton victory would have meant a third consecutive administration dedicated to dismantling the institutions that have kept America free, and imposing instead the social vision of the smug elites. That could have been the ultimate catastrophe — not just for our time, but for generations yet unborn.
In one sense, Donald Trump’s victory was a unique American event. But, in a larger sense, it represents the biggest backlash among many elsewhere, against smug elites in Western nations, where increasing numbers of ordinary people are showing their anger at where those elites are leading their countries.
There, as here, mindlessly flinging the doors open to peoples from societies whose fundamental values clash with those of the countries they enter, has been a hallmark of arrogant blindness and disregard of negative consequences suffered by ordinary people — consequences from which the elites themselves are insulated.
Nor is this the only issue on which the blindness of elites has set the stage for a political backlash. The anti-law enforcement fetish among the insulated elites has even more tragically sacrificed the safety of the general public. This too has been common on both sides of the Atlantic.
Riots in London, Manchester and other cities in England in 2011 were incredibly similar to 2014 riots in Ferguson, Missouri, 2015 riots in Baltimore and similar riots in other American cities.
The fact that the rioters in England were mostly white, while those in America were mostly black, gives the lie to the facile excuse that such riots are due to racial oppression, rather than being a result of appeasing mobs and restricting the police.
Nor is the election of Donald Trump likely to lead the elites to having second thoughts about the prevailing dogmas of their groupthink. On the morning after Mr. Trump’s upset victory over Mrs. Clinton, a newswoman at CNN mentioned the disappointment of some women that “the glass ceiling” was not shattered as expected.
What an insult to everyone’s intelligence is that catch phrase, “glass ceiling.” What does “glass” mean, if not that you cannot see the ceiling, but somehow you just know that it is there? And how do you know? Because it has been repeated so often.
It is like the fable of the emperor’s new clothes, but a fable for adults.
Demagogues like Hillary Clinton can point to the fact that women as a group do not receive as much income as men as a group. But, factual studies over the past 40 years have shown repeatedly that, when you compare women who work as many hours a year as men, and as many continuous years in the same occupations as men, the income differences shrink to the vanishing point, and sometimes even reverse.
But how many politicians or media people care about facts, when the facts go against their preconceptions?
Donald Trump’s unexpected victory should send a lot of people back to the drawing board to rethink their assumptions about many things. That includes not only the political left but also the Republican establishment. But don’t count on it.
The Republican establishment has been called many things, but introspective is not one of them. One thing they might reconsider is their assumption that they alone know just what kind of presidential candidate is needed to win elections.
But the two most surprisingly successful Republican candidates of the past half century — Ronald Reagan and now Donald Trump — bore no resemblance to the candidates who epitomized the Republican establishment’s model, such as Bob Dole, John McCain and Mitt Romney.
Among others who could also use some rethinking is Donald Trump himself. When he acted like a petulant adolescent, he may have gotten the adulation of his core constituents. But it was only toward the end, when he began to act like a responsible adult seeking the highest office in the land, that he began to overtake Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump is a wild card. We don’t know whether he was play-acting when he carried on like a juvenile lout or when he played the role of a mature adult. But he and the country could both benefit from some serious introspection on his part.
As the post-election shock of some, and the euphoria of others, both begin to wear off, the country and the new administration will have some very serious problems to face, at home and abroad. How those problems are faced — or evaded — will tell us a lot about the next four years, and about the longer-run future as well.
As the multiple disasters of ObamaCare become ever more painfully visible with the passage of time, the big question is whether to repeal it or to start tinkering with it, in hopes of being able to “save” it.
This dilemma is not accidental. ObamaCare was clearly so structured that it would be hard to get rid of politically. In that sense, it was a political masterpiece, even though a social disaster.
One big test of the new Republican administration that takes office in January will be whether it falls into the trap of trying to rescue this monstrosity created by the Democrats, and succumbs to the siren song of bipartisanship that is sure to be heard from the media.
Whatever the new administration hopes to accomplish, on this issue and many others, it needs to accomplish early on, if it expects to get things done and establish its credibility. For that it needs unity within a party that has fragmented too often in the past.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has been preparing various policy positions, so that there will be a program already in place that Republicans can unite behind and hit the ground running when they take control in January.
But there is one other thing that they will need, and which they have seldom had in the past. That is some well thought out, and clearly articulated, explanation to the American public as to what they are doing and why.
What was called “the Reagan revolution” of the 1980s took place without President Reagan’s ever having had Republican control of both Houses of Congress, and despite a hostile media. What Reagan had instead was a rare ability to persuasively articulate to the public what he was doing and why.
When President Reagan got the voters on his side, even Congressional Democrats knew that it was politically risky to try to block what he had convinced the public needed to be done.
Without effective articulation to the public, control of both Houses of Congress can lead to futility and the collapse of political support by frustrated voters who feel betrayed. That has been the recent history of Republicans.
Articulation is not just a gift of nature. It takes hard work, work that Ronald Reagan had done for years before he ever got to Washington. More fundamentally, effective articulation requires a recognition of the great importance of articulation, so that it gets all the time and effort it requires.
Another very high priority for the new administration should be trying to fill the great void on the Supreme Court left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. It is not just a quantitative void but, above all, a qualitative void.
This is one of those situations where caution may be the most dangerous course. Too many Republican Supreme Court nominees in the past have been chosen to avoid a confirmation fight in the Senate — and the country has paid a huge price in bad Supreme Court decisions for decades thereafter.
If you wanted to pick someone whose nomination to the Supreme Court would send a clear and unmistakable signal that the Constitutional values so well represented by the late Justice Scalia were paramount, you could not do that more convincingly than by nominating Senator Ted Cruz.
Whatever one thinks of Senator Cruz’s political career and tactics — both of which have been criticized in this column more than once — no one can question his commitment to Constitutional principles that are in jeopardy today.
His uncompromising refusal to go along to get along, which has made him controversial in politics, is desperately needed in the Supreme Court, where too many “conservative” justices, over the years, have wilted like delicate flowers in the Washington heat.
Senator Cruz’s unpopularity among more moderate Republican Senators can even be an asset in gaining Senate confirmation, since they would be unlikely to be sorry to see him leave the Senate.