One of the problems with Democracy is that sometimes the wrong person wins.
We may disagree on who the “wrong” person is, but in any election a good number of us will think the voters have made a big mistake. Often, history confirms that judgment.
Because there is nothing in Democracy that guarantees voters will make the best choices. Over the two-plus centuries the U.S. has been voting for presidents, voters have often chosen men -- so far, only men -- who have let us down.
Yet, Democracy has endured.
The U.S. has always been a fairly conservative society. When our leaders get too radical, the momentum of our government tends to bring them back into line.
I suspect the same thing will happen with Donald Trump.
Do I truly believe that? Of course I don’t truly believe that. I truly believe Trump will be an unmitigated disaster.
But society doesn’t rise or fall on what I believe.
Democracy rests on its institutions and on its values and, whether I have a knot in my stomach or an egg in my throat, I have to trust in those institutions.
And, before I get too hard on America, I have to keep in mind a couple of things:
First, the election of Trump seemed to encourage a lot of racists. But, before we elected Trump, we elected an African-American with the unlikely name of Barack Hussein Obama twice to be leader of our nation and we did so with pretty good margins. We have racists in our society, but we are not a racist society.
Obama did not usher in a post-racist society. We had racists in our society before he was elected. They are still there today. But we did elect him, twice.
I don’t think Trump is personally a racist, though he may be a demagogue. But we have had racist presidents in the past. Theodore Roosevelt was a racist. Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a racist. Woodrow Wilson was a racist.
Trump may move our society back a bit, but he won’t return it to legalized segregation. We have made progress.
Second: It’s not going to be so easy to undo the accomplishments of the past. I keep reading dire warnings that Paul Ryan and his Republican majority in Congress are going to abolish Medicare and replace it with some premium support mechanism. Or that Republicans may privatize Social Security.
Maybe. But many of those voters in rural Wisconsin, in rural America, don’t have good jobs and private pensions. They depend on Social Security and Medicare for their old-age security.
I wouldn’t want to be the congressman who goes into his district and brags about abolishing the only security these folks have.
Finally, it might be time for Democrats to start thinking about their message.
Just before I wrote this, I listened to a liberal commentator lamenting a photo of a tattered shack with a “Trump” sign in front of it. The commentator couldn’t figure out why the inhabitant of that shack could ever vote for Trump.
Because that person might not have yet felt the benefits of the Obama economy?