Archive

November 11th, 2016

U.S. Constitution is built to protect the losers

    It's all about the Constitution now. Republicans will control the White House and both chambers of Congress. They will be able to pass -- or repeal -- their preferred laws, because that's democracy. But to the Donald Trump opponents worried about what his presidency will bring, know this: There will still be limits to congressional or executive action, limits dictated by the Constitution and enforceable by the courts. The Constitution is designed to resist the tyranny of the majority. James Madison's machine of constitutional protection is about to kick into gear.

    The Bill of Rights and the principle of equal protection give the main limits on government action, but the list of enumerated rights alone doesn't capture the purpose of the system. Most crucially, free speech and equal protection are supposed to preserve the capacity of electoral losers -- Democrats this time around -- to continue to participate in government.

    That means Trump and the Republican Party can't stop their political opponents from expressing their views. They can't jail opponents in violation of habeas corpus. And they can't adopt laws that discriminate on the basis of race or sex or religion or national origin.

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Trump's guide to team building is his instinct

    Most new Republican administrations are filled with experienced hands from a previous government -- a few governors and members of Congress, a prominent corporate chief executive or two. That's not likely with Donald Trump; look instead for fellow deal-makers, political pals and fervent early supporters.

    More than any modern president, Trump doesn't come from the party establishment and owes it nothing. Some conservative think tanks will rush to fill the void, but with limited interest in policy, Trump is likely to continue to rely on instinct.

    That's what led to his upset victory and is likely to be the model for assembling an administration.

    Trump has already signaled his intention to name Steve Mnuchin, his chief fundraiser and a former Goldman Sachs executive, as Treasury secretary. He was one of a smattering of Wall Streeters to support Trump; he has no Washington background.

    The New York billionaire has talked openly about tapping fellow deal-makers Carl Icahn and Wilbur Ross for prominent roles in his administration.

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Trump’s Alarming Success

    Just days ago I was in Ohio. I was talking to Republicans, and this was the refrain I kept hearing: Donald Trump is throwing this election away. He has no real campaign here. No get-out-the-vote operation. No ground game. Nothing that signifies or befits a truly serious presidential candidate.

    These Republicans thought that he’d win the state — barely. But they didn’t think that he could snatch victories in some of the other places that he did on Tuesday, or draw so close to Hillary Clinton elsewhere, or compete so tightly in the election overall. It was done, over, finished.

    She had the best experts that money could buy, the most sophisticated data operation that the smartest wonks could put together and the dutiful troops who went door to door, handing out “Stronger Together” literature and pleading her case.

    He had his hair and his ego.

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Trump won because college-educated Americans are out of touch

    As the reality of President-elect Donald Trump settled in very early Wednesday morning, MSNBC's Chris Hayes summed up an explanation common to many on the left: The Republican nominee pulled ahead thanks to old-fashioned American racism.

    But the attempt to make Trump's victory about racism appears to be at odds with what actually happened on Election Day. Consider the following facts.

    Twenty-nine percent of Latinos voted for Trump , per exit polls. Remarkably, despite the near-ubiquitous narrative that Trump would have deep problems with this demographic given his comments and position on immigration, this was a higher percentage of those who voted for GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. Meanwhile, African Americans did not turn out to vote against Trump . In fact, Trump received a higher percentage of African American votes than Romney did.

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Trump delivers a shock heard round the world

    It was like a rerun of the scene in the movie "Network" when television newscaster Howard Beale called on viewers to go to their windows, open them and shout, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

    For Democrats, it also was like what Democratic Congressman Morris Udall said in 1976 upon losing his party's presidential nomination: "The people have spoken -- the bastards!"

    Donald Trump's capture of the presidency, along with the Republican Party's majority retention of both houses of Congress, is a resounding protest against a federal government perceived as dysfunctional and irresponsive to an angry and frustrated American citizenry.

    It was a cry of antagonism and rancor so strong that collectively it overcame Trump's personal crudity, brutality, boorishness and, yes, demonstrable unfitness for leading the nation in a time of domestic and global turmoil.

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The world as we know it 'is crumbling before our eyes'

    Even before the final votes were counted Tuesday night, the United States' closest allies struggled to come to terms with an American election that delivered the presidency to Donald Trump, a political outlier who challenged the global political order that has defined the era after the Second World War.

    The world as we know it "is crumbling before our eyes," Gerard Araud, France's ambassador to the United States, wrote Tuesday night on Twitter, citing the double whammy of Britain's exit from the European Union and America's sharp turn toward isolationist populism.

    "It is an end of an era, that of neoliberalism. It remains to be seen what will succeed it," Araud tweeted in the first flush of the shock results. He later deleted the tweets.

    In the immediate aftermath, leaders of friendly countries from Canada to South Korea issued formal congratulations to the winner and highlighted their hopes of continuing their traditional alliances, many of which Trump called into question during the campaign.

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The Rust Belt was turning red already. Donald Trump just pushed it along.

    Donald Trump won the presidency by turning the Rust Belt red.

    On Tuesday night, he swept Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin - states that voted twice for Barack Obama and that rank near the top in manufacturing jobs. Although his promise to restore the glory days of building cars and pouring steel sometimes made him sound like a guy who learned about past-their-prime factory towns by watching "Roger & Me" and listening to "Born in the U.S.A.," he tapped into a still-strong nostalgia for a time when a young man could go straight from high school to an industrial job that paid enough to support a family.

    When Trump Force One flew into Flint, Michigan, in August 2015 for the Genesee County Republican Party's Lincoln Day Dinner, the man who's now president-elect told an anecdote about seeing "boatloads" of Japanese cars in the Port of Los Angeles, then promised to stop Ford from investing $2.5 billion in Mexican engine plants. He knew his audience.

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The American experiment will soon be put to the test

    What happens when the factories and the steel mills don't come back? When the coal mines fail to reopen? When both a tightfisted Congress and the government of Mexico refuse to pay for his boondoggle of a border wall?

     When the president-elect, Donald Trump, takes office and has to confront inconvenient reality, how will he react? "We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead," Hillary Clinton said Wednesday, and of course she is right. But I wouldn't be honest if I pretended, at this point, to be hopeful. My fear is that the man we saw on the campaign trail is the same man we will see in the White House.

    He proved to be a tremendously effective demagogue. He stunned the world by energizing and mobilizing legions of "forgotten men and women" -- white, working-class Americans living in small towns and rural areas across the nation -- who bought into his pledge to "make America great again." Instead of serious policy proposals, he gave them scapegoats: immigrants, Muslims, people of color living in "inner cities" that he imagined as circles of Dante's hell.

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On this day in history the world watched the Berlin Wall Crumble. Now will they see Donald Trump's wall rise?

    Some 27 years ago today, the world was stunned: On the night of Nov. 9, the Berlin Wall, the living symbol of Cold War divisions, was suddenly breached. After an East German official vaguely announced that travel restrictions would be eased, border guards, confused by their orders, did nothing to stop excited East Germans from crossing over. Soon images of Germans ecstatically swarming the wall, chipping away at it with hammers, and hugging long-separated friends and strangers alike, flooded televisions around the world.

    Few saw it coming. Yet the sudden implosion of the Communist bloc in eastern Europe and the fall of the wall marked what was widely heralded as a historic milestone in the spread of Western, democratic values.

    Now, another surprise moment is playing out, thanks to the stunning victory early Wednesday of Donald Trump, a candidate who began his presidential campaign promising to build a wall on the border with Mexico.

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Now it's Trump's America, but can he deliver?

    President-elect Trump?

    Well, whaddaya know. There really was a "hidden Trump vote" after all.

    For months almost every opinion poll had Democrat Hillary Clinton firmly holding onto her No. 1 position in the presidential race. No problem, said Republican Donald Trump's team, which claimed a "hidden vote": Trump voters who didn't want to admit their choice to pollsters.

    Preposterous thought. Numerous pollsters with sophisticated computers constantly belching out data, there was no way a hidden block of voters was eluding their scrutiny.

    Until President-elect Trump.

    Somewhere, I imagine, Mike Royko is smiling.

    The late Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and champion of working stiffs in his beloved Chicago and elsewhere used to be so annoyed by political pollsters that in the early 1980s he urged his people to lie to them.

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