Dear Commons Community,
As Donald Trump’s candidacy falls apart with the latest revelations of his misogynist comments, it is looking better and better for Hillary Clinton to be the first woman president of the United States. Barring some major misstep on her part, the odds are much in her favor of winning the presidency. But what does this mean for the country. It may mean that the dysfunction that has crippled much of our national political system will continue. New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni, examines this scenario in his column this morning.
“Perhaps something extraordinary will happen in the second debate, or in the third. Maybe there’s some other surprise in the offing. Barring that, it really does look and feel as if Hillary Clinton is wrapping this thing up. I expect that on Nov. 9, the morning after the vote, we’ll be talking about the election of the first female president of the world’s most powerful nation.
And we’ll be breathing an epic sigh of relief: that Donald Trump isn’t bound for the White House; that the ugliness of the campaign is at last behind us.
But oh, the ugliness still ahead.
Trump isn’t going anywhere, nor are his provocations. It was the birther conspiracy yesterday; it will be something else tomorrow. And Clinton isn’t trading war for peace. Her presidency, should it indeed happen, will be a battle royal. The circumstances surrounding it are as politically daunting and inhospitable to accomplishment as those facing any of her predecessors over the last half-century.
Let’s start with Congress, which can play partner or spoiler in a president’s legislative agenda. As much of a drag as Trump may be on some House Republicans seeking a new term, the G.O.P. is still predicted to retain its majority in the House, because that majority is its largest in more than eight decades.
“Democrats are likely to gain seats, just not the 30 they need for the majority,” said Nathan Gonzales, the editor and publisher of the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, a nonpartisan newsletter that tracks congressional races, among others.
And nearly all of the seats that Republicans are projected to lose, he said, are those of relatively moderate lawmakers. It’s not the hyper-conservative members of the Freedom Caucus who are on the run. They’re from safely Republican districts. They’re fine. They’ll be back — and, proportionally, they’ll be a bigger, more forceful presence among the Republicans remaining in the House.”
“If Election Day saves us from a Trump presidency, it won’t rescue us from the forces that have given him such currency: crippling partisanship, intense polarization, aversion to compromise. Disaster will be averted; dysfunction will carry on.”
Bruni might be right but if Hillary can stake out a compromise course similar to her husband during his presidency, it might not be as bad as it seems. Bill Clinton was able to compromise with some tough Republicans like Newt Gingrich, and the country was the better for it.