I thought I knew what pain is.
Pain is getting ready to do some last-minute campaigning for a friend and being stopped in your tracks by a slippery floor, leading to a sudden collision between your head and a very hard countertop.
Pain is a jolt to most parts of the body — but particularly to the cranium — accompanying such a fall. I got up and called to tell my friend’s campaign manager I wouldn’t be going door to door that afternoon after all.
But I didn’t have any idea what true pain is until a few hours later, after watching the nightmarish election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. It hurt worse than a dozen hits to the head ever could.
The politically astute TV talking heads I watch on MSNBC and CNN assured Americans for weeks that the election was essentially a formality. After running the most horrific campaign in modern history, Trump would quickly lose one of the eight “battleground” states he had to win and Hillary Clinton would become the nation’s first woman president. Crack open the champagne!
The only mystery was supposed to be the size of her victory, which many Democrats thought would be a landslide. She needed 270 electoral votes — would she get 350? Maybe even 400?
It seemed like a logical outcome. Trump spent the past year and a half insulting Latinos, African-Americans, veterans, calling women stupid pigs and bragging that he could do anything sexually that he wanted to females because of his celebrity. He ridiculed a Mexican judge, Sen. John McCain, the Pope and a Gold Star family and looked and acted like a clown during all three of his debates with Clinton.
Trump was exposed as a billionaire con man who ran a phony university, didn’t pay federal income taxes and stiffed the contractors who built the opulent buildings upon which he slapped his name. Meanwhile, the media gave him $3 billion worth of free advertising.
If there was one thing I knew for certain about politics, it was that a candidate couldn’t anger women, Latino, black and gay voters — plus be endorsed by the KKK and other white supremacists — and win the presidency. To think so would be preposterous.
Right. Now we know anything can happen if there are enough voters who say they’re sick of the Washington establishment, legislative gridlock, immigrants and seeing American jobs exported to other countries. And if the media gives the candidate $3 billion worth of free advertising.
It also proves we can no longer ignore the tremendous effect of an endorsement from the most powerful political duo in America — Scott Baio and Vladimir Putin.
Although Wyoming voters didn’t need any encouragement from Trump to cast their ballots for Republicans, they came out in droves with him at the top of the GOP ticket. A lot of people nationwide apparently despise Hillary, but Wyoming Republicans really hate her.
Larger ‘R’ stamp on Wyoming Legislature – with new wrinkles
One more political expectation I thought would become reality was that this was the year Democrats would make some significant gains in the Wyoming Legislature. Instead of giving Republicans a free ride with no-contest general elections, as so often in the past, Democrats had assembled a slate of candidates to run in most Senate and House districts throughout the state. And they weren’t just people whose names were filling space on the ballot; the vast majority were qualified candidates with good ideas who wanted to serve their communities.
The one-party rule that has run the state Legislature for years isn’t healthy. Development of better ideas and the kind of compromise work needed to create laws that would help all of Wyoming’s citizens won’t result from the practice of people automatically voting for every candidate with an “R” beside his or her name.
Polls done by the University of Wyoming have shown that there is broad support from Wyoming residents for Medicaid expansion, equal pay for equal work and keeping public lands in public hands — all positions backed by Democrats that have been eagerly smashed to smithereens by the GOP leadership.
Before Tuesday’s election, Democrats held nine seats in the 60-member House and four in the 30-member Senate.
For the next two years House Democrats will still have nine seats, while the Senate is down to only three. You can forget about Medicaid expansion in Wyoming, even if Republicans in Congress don’t manage to repeal it from the Affordable Care Act.
Ironically, now the “establishment” Republicans are going to find themselves forced to try to find compromises with the increasing numbers of far-right wackos who have ridden the “R” coattails into the Legislature. Debates in the legislature may morph into even more posturing on social issues while the real business of the state gets short shrift. How to best serve the people in a time of shrinking revenue from traditional sources needs real thought right now: will we get that?
Once again Democratic state legislators won’t be able to pass anything without persuading centrist Republicans to join their side. This is never easy to do, and the odds of it happening in the next session dropped dramatically after voters ousted one of the most effective legislative bridge-builders, House Minority Leader Mary Throne of Cheyenne.
Dems need to block Trump’s craziest ideas
On the national front, I’ve hated the obstructionism of U.S. Senate and House Republicans who have labored since before his first inauguration to deny President Barack Obama any legislative victories. These are the same congressional hacks who bragged about drawing up articles of impeachment against Clinton before Trump surprised them by winning.
Now, I can’t wait to see Democratic senators use their filibuster powers to beat back anything Trump or his team tries to ram through Congress. The GOP would have to be shamed into not using the rare so-called “nuclear option” to stop a filibuster. But if Democrats stick together and successfully filibuster, they can keep the GOP from getting the required super-majority of 60 votes to advance a bill or, significantly, a nomination.
This means Republicans won’t be able to fulfill their promise to repeal “Obamacare,” at least not until they offer a workable alternative. Democrats, I hope, will not allow them to leave 20 million newly-insured people without health care assistance.
Is my view about using all of the tools at the Democrats’ disposal to sink GOP proposals hypocritical? Yes it is. Childish? Some might say so. Foolish? Not on your life!
Trump doesn’t have an actual mandate to do whatever he wants, primarily because Clinton won the popular vote. At least half the country doesn’t support the president-elect, and it’s up to Democrats to keep his insane ideas like deporting millions of Latinos from ever happening.
Trump has only himself to blame, because he put up the roadblocks that are destined to doom his first and only term in office. The night after his victory, thousands of protesters marched against him in major U.S. cities. His inauguration may be the site of the biggest protest this nation has ever seen.
The only path he can take to advance any decent ideas his administration might come up with is to say his bombastic rhetoric wasn’t serious — which will result in his supporters eating him alive. Now that’s good reality TV. Many of them are counting on him to make Mexico pay to build a wall across the U.S. southern border and keep his vow to ban Muslims from entering the country. That’s what got him elected — that, far more than his appeal to the people “forgotten” in the current economy.
When he’s impeached or loses his re-election bid, Trump will wish he still had a reality TV show where he could fire anyone at will for any perceived slight to his Trumpness. Whenever or however he’s fired from this new gig, it’s going to be ugly. And even though I was wrong this time, anyone can have a bad day. I just had a huge one. Believe me.