Let's look at a few things I said in Tuesday's post (Election Day: Paragraphs of angry vitriol deleted) to see where I got it wrong and then talk a bit about something that maybe I got right.
"Nominating Donald J. Trump for President of the United States is rock bottom."
I was wrong. Correction: Electing Donald J. Trump as President of the United States is rock bottom. I think we're in for a dark and grim four years. Or longer.
I hope I'm wrong about that, too.
I should say something else here. There's a lot to discuss about the role that race played in this election, but I don't think that most of the voters who voted for Trump did so because of the racist elements in his campaign. I truly believe that a lot of voters voted for Trump despite the racist elements in his campaign. I wish they had been more troubled by those elements.
Most of all, I believe a lot of people voted for Trump because they are mad at the system and wanted to tear it all down. And Donald J. Trump was the candidate likely to tear it all down.
I'm reminded strongly of the Detroit Lions and Matt Millen.
How did that turn out? For the non-football fans among you here's what happened.
After the Detroit Lions barely missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record in 2000, decades of frustration of their continued mediocrity led their owner and fans to think it was a good idea to hire former player and announcer Matt Millen to tear it all down and start again. So the Lions sacked the front office and coaching staff and gave Millen a five-year contract to be their new president and GM. Millen an unqualified choice who was charismatic and talked a good game. But he had no management experience, no front-office experience, and no idea how to actually do the things he said he would do.
Tearing it all down is seldom a good idea.
After Millen went 21-59 in his first five years -- the worst five-year stretch for a team in NFL history -- the Lions gave him another five-year contract. By the 2008 season the team had fallen so far that they finally had to fire Millen while they were on their way to becoming the first NFL team to ever go 0-16.
I kinda feel like we just elected Matt Millen as our new President.
But I will say this for Matt Millen. He did tear it all down.
"Right now the Republican Party is broken. Badly broken."
I was wrong. The GOP now controls the White House and both houses of Congress. After obstructing a Supreme Court nominee for a year they will now make an appointment that will probably give them control of the Supreme Court for the next decade or longer. The Republican Party is functioning as designed. Any apparent race baiting, sexism, jingoism, xenophobia, or anti-intellectualism is a feature, not a bug.
To the Republican Party: "You need to pull yourselves out of your fact-free media bubble and start dealing with the real world."
I was wrong. The fact-free media bubble is functioning as designed and I was the one who missed a few points about the real world.
The part where I was dead-on right:
"Let me take a moment here to add that my fellow Democrats also have some things to work on. ... A lot of people feel the Democratic Party has abandoned them. We need to listen."
... and we're going to get a couple of years to work on those things without the distraction of governing or wielding any appreciable power in Washington -- or Michigan, for that matter.
There's a lot to unpack in the quote above, and I'm not going to do it all in this post. But specifically, the Democratic Party of FDR was 100% on the side of the working class. That sense has been eroding for a long time, especially among rural Americans, religious Americans, and Americans who didn't go to college and get white-collar jobs.
What's the phrase I'm looking for to describe those people? Oh, that's right: the working class.
So what went wrong? In part I think it's because people look at the Democratic Party leadership and see a bunch of politicians who are every bit as much in bed with Wall Street and corporate executives as the GOP. And in part, I see a party that requires complete linguistic purity in speaking about every iota of its hundreds of different constituencies, yet seems pretty damn happy to toss around words like "redneck" and "gun nut" in its messaging.
So, yeah. If you look around and you see:
1) The existing GOP leadership not helping you
2) The existing Democratic Party not helping you and placing you outside the party in its messaging
... then why not vote Trump in the primary, vote Trump in the general election, and burn it all to the ground?
Hillary Clinton never understood that as far as I can see. Bernie Sanders clearly understands that. I think Elizabeth Warren mostly understands that. I hope we find other Democratic leaders who understand that, and find them fast.
There's a lot more to noodle on from Tuesday. More people voted for Clinton than for Trump, despite her general terribleness as a campaigner. I feel good about that, though it doesn't really matter in the big picture. And I could write blog post after blog post about Hillary Clinton's terribleness as a campaigner. Losing to a candidate as truly awful as Donald Trump makes her the Matt Millen of Presidential candidates.
I could write about racism in this campaign and what I fear is coming for America. I'm deeply troubled and truly appalled.
I could complain about the media coverage -- oh, boy, could I complain about the media coverage! -- but that's like complaining about getting bad calls from a referee. The media and what passes for journalism in 2016 is what it is. Its only loyalty, its only duty, is to ratings points and Internet clicks. Expecting better is a fool's errand.
The ground genuinely shifted on Tuesday. I don't know where it will end up. I wish I did.
But for now, R.I.P. the Republican Party of Ronald Reagan (1980-2016). We officially have the Republican Party of Donald Trump (2016-).
And maybe R.I.P. the Democratic Party of FDR (1932-2016). Or perhaps we should make that R.I.P. the Democratic Party of FDR (1932-1992) and R.I.P. the Democratic Party of Bill Clinton (1992-2016). I'm going to do a bit more mulling before I weigh in on what I think should be next for the Dems. But things need to change. Even if Hillary had won on Tuesday, that would be every bit as true.