As we write this, it is Election Day 2016, and what a long road it’s been. The consensus of American punditry is that Hillary Clinton will win the presidency. Some Republican establishment leaders have all but conceded, but Donald Trump has moved up slightly in the polls.
That was exactly the situation in Great Britain last June, the night before the British electorate went to the polls to vote whether or not to leave the European Union. The pundits, pollsters and even some leaders of the “Vote Leave” campaign were sure the Brexiteers would lose. They were wrong.
But let’s assume that there is no Brexit earthquake Nov. 8, and Clinton has won. Whether the Senate stays Republican or goes Democratic, the 2018 midterm elections now loom, and, as a Roll Call headline put it earlier this year: “Senate Democrats: 2018 Math Is Not Your Friend.” The partisan victories of this election may be short-lived.
We now enter the post-election period, and it is time to consider what this contentious election has wrought.
Bernie progressives are saying that the country is going “left.” They plan to keep Hillary’s feet to the fire, making sure that she implements their liberal global agenda: expanded comprehensive immigration reform, expanded government programs funded by higher taxes on the wealthy, increased regulations on banks and corporations and global trade agreements with worker protections.
Conservatives, on the other hand, are sure that the United States — like almost every other nation in the world — is going “right.” National populist movements everywhere are demanding that immigration, trade agreements and international and national social programs be limited, focused on benefiting national prosperity, citizens and legal immigrants first.
Both sides are right. Is it really “leftist” to promote social justice and take a global perspective? Is it really “right wing” to put citizens and national interests first?
Here’s the real political fact: regardless of whoever won the 2016 election, the genie of serious issues with polarizing solutions is out of the bottle. (That’s right: Donald Trump is not really going away.)
There’s no going back to a one-sided, party-wing agenda. That’s way too simplistic in our internet-connected world. Politics can no longer be viewed as a sports match with only two sides, winner take all. Most voters are disgusted with monolithic, establishment-party politics.
The good thing about this election is that both parties have been split along numerous complicated issues. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians and Greens can all find areas of agreement within every issue. Now, after what we’ve been through for too long, is the time for citizens to demand compromise beyond narrow party interests — not to mention more transparency and (it doesn’t hurt to ask) honesty.