2017 is not going to be pretty, regardless who wins this election. Let’s reason it out.
There are four basic electoral outcomes (all of which are possible IMHO):
- Clinton wins in a landslide.
- Clinton wins narrowly.
- Trump wins narrowly.
- Trump wins in a landslide.
In the two narrow cases, the next steps are likely litigation similarly to the Bush / Gore situation back then. There’s simply too much animosity around to expect anything else. Except that whoever comes out behind will be unlikely to concede gracefully as Gore did.
If Clinton eventually wins, we know already that:
- Trump will not acknowledge his loss, nor will many of his followers. So a certain percentage of the American population (disproportionately owning guns) will consider the sitting president and her administration to be illegitimate (and should have been “put into jail” even before this latest “stolen election” outrage). They will consider anything coming from Washington to effectively be illegal.
- The Republicans in Congress will not only continue their blockade of all Democratic initiatives, but intensify them, starting with not conducting hearings on open Supreme Court positions ever again. As a result, President Clinton will not be able to accomplish much of any kind through Congress. Executive Actions will become more common.
- Clinton will eventually be impeached, there is no question for me about that; regardless of what she may or may not have done, there’s simply too much hate for her on the other side that she could avoid that.
If Trump eventually wins, we can be quite certain that:
- A big part of the Democratic base (disproportionally college-educated), most Democratic (and at least a few Republican) members of Congress, will simply not want to have anything to do with Trump. They will (continue to) consider him a joke, a sexual predator etc. and boycott him and his administration just as effectively as the Republicans would in the other case.
- President Trump himself will be utterly unable to formulate a direction and a strategy getting his administration and the government to accomplish anything. He neither has the attention span nor the knowledge for it. Administration and goverment will be paralyzed. The only way to avoid that would be for somebody he trusts (like his son) to effectively run the administration instead of him. In which case he’ll spend his time translating some of the insults of the campaign into actual prosecution on the ground.
- Trump might well be impeached, too, probably for flouting some laws. (If Clinton didn’t follow secrecy laws about her e-mail, are you expecting Trump to even bother to listen to the white house lawyer explain them to him?)
So over the course of 2017, and barring other disasters, political gridlock will further intensify. Many people who voted for the winning candidate will become disillusioned again (“Should never have voted for him/her, s/he can’t manage to get anything done.”) Presidential approval ratings will hit ever-lower records. Big parts of the government will effectively have to operate on their own, as Congress won’t pass the laws that are needed, heads of departments will take forever to be confirmed, or not confirmed at all. Political supervision of three-letter agencies will be even less than it has been in the past. Some people will have a field day growing ever-less accountable branches of the “government”.
And let’s say a major calamity occurs in 2017 or 2018. It doesn’t have to be war with Russia. But something like a real estate crash in China, or the cascade of dominos likely to occur if Deutsche Bank went under. Or a major terrorist attack. And then we’ll be in real trouble because we won’t have the institutional capacity to effectively respond any more.
How we get out of this spiral down I have no idea.