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If Trump wins, here are seven things Democrats must do

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Democrats have been feeling pretty demoralized this past week. Many of us were alarmed when we read Nate Silver’s spine-shivery headline, “Democrats Should Panic…if the Polls Look Like This in a Week.” The Wall Street Journal’s weekend edition had this scary news on the front page: “Millennials Have Cooled on Hillary Clinton.” Over in England, the Economist says financial markets are “start[ing] to face the prospect of a Trump victory.”

And with this New York City bombing, you just know Trump will pander to frightened people and somehow end up blaming it all on Obama/Clinton.

So what are we to do if he wins, beyond hoping for the best and preparing for the worst?

First, an analysis. Hillary made a mistake by largely taking the month of August off. I’m no fan of Red State, an online quasi-fascist rightwing rag, but they got it right: “Hillary Appears to Have Been Twiddling Her Thumbs for the Whole Month of August.”

During that same period, Trump was everywhere, all the time, leading the news cycle nearly every night. Even when the news about him was negative—as it frequently was—he understands the old adage that “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” It’s what the French call “un success de scandale”: shock the hell out of people. At least, they’ll remember you.

Hillary got back to work after Labor Day, but then, Wham! that nasty bout of pneumonia hit, and she lost the better part of another precious week, during which Trump continued to smear her health. Now, it feels like Trump is surging in key swing states, even as some parts of Hillary’s coalition, such as it was, are eroding under the strain. We have to face the very real possibility that the nightmare scenario comes true: This January, Donald J. Trump, with Melania and his snide, animal-killing sons beside him, takes the oath as President of the United States of America.

I personally think there’s enough time—more than enough—for Hillary to make up for lost ground. Her ground game is said to be very good; that’s how you get actual voters to go to the polling places. As for the opinion polls, we’ve already seen they’re not particularly trustworthy. Every poll I’m aware of consistently missed the Trump phenomenon, so I’m not sure how much credence we should put into this latest round. Democrats have been largely complacent, assuming that Hillary was a shoo-in. Now that they’re waking up to the fact that she isn’t, they will step up to the plate—financially and in other ways. One thing that Democrats can do is to urge, in the strongest way possible, their loved ones to not vote for Gary Johnson. That’s a hard sell, I know; people feel strongly that the Republican and Democratic parties are equally corrupt and inefficient, and that the Libertarians have become the sole repository of truth, justice and the American way. That’s ridiculous, of course; Johnson is simply the latest spoiler in a long line of them, including Ross Perot and Ralph Nader. But until folks who are thinking of voting for Johnson come to their senses, Johnson could still hand this thing to Trump (which actually may be what he wants).

Hillary is very good on the stump and on television, which is why she got her big post-convention bounce. Her policy positions are consistent with those of most hard-working Americans (once those Americans actually get to know them). There remain compelling reasons to vote for her: Trump really is a dreadful, narcissistic liar who will divide the country (and the world) even more than they are now. And we really do have a seat open on the Supreme Court that we don’t, under any circumstances, want Republicans to fill and undo generations of progress.

Still, we have to face the reality that Trump may win. Here’s what I suggest we do if that happens:

  1. Announce immediately at the highest levels—Obama, Clinton, Reid, Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and all the T.V. surrogates–that we’re going into the strongest possible opposition and are ready to hunker down for a long fight. Democratic morale will be crushed if Trump wins; a decisive declaration of “battle stations” will rally the troops and give us hope.
  2. Insist that Merritt Garland be approved for SCOTUS, as he amply deserves to be. If McConnell tries to pull a fast one and let Trump nominate some rightwing hack, do the same thing to Repubs as they did to Democrats: filibuster the damn thing. It’s better to have eight Justices than nine, if the ninth is a tea party/evangelical water carrier for the Koch Brothers and rightwing Christian factions.
  3. Stall and filibuster every single piece of legislation President Trump tries to get through, unless it’s something we want. They’re done it to us for Obama’s entire Presidency. Now they can get a taste of their own medicine.
  4. Immediately begin preparing for the off-year elections. Raising funds will be critical. Democrats, put your money where your mouth is!
  5. Pressure the news media to be fair in their reporting. They’ve been dreadful—beyond dreadful, completely abysmal—in their treatment of Hillary Clinton. They’ve allowed themselves to be overwhelmed by the lies and deceits of the Trump campaign and let this callow, hateful man get away with the most awful things, with barely a finger-wag from the likes of Wolf Blitzer. This media has been complicit in elevating Trump from a reality-show has-been to the Republican nominee. This will forever redound to their shame, but the media is very good at shrugging off its own vapidity and bathing themselves in onanistic glory. The public must keep up the pressure on them: as Trump has been forced to admit Obama is an American citizen, the media has to admit how completely they have aided and abetted Trump. Some people have to lose their jobs. The media must be made to atone for their sin.
  6. The mainstream media won’t do it, but small media can: dig up dirt on Trump. Expose the lies, selfishness and greed, the shady business practices, the bribery and back-room deals, the way this con artist rips off the elderly and refuses to pay his bills to small businesses. Find out more about his failed marriages, his affairs, his sex life, his private practices, his drug use. Follow the Russian connection. There are plenty of people who know the score. These scandals have largely not been effective in turning the public against Trump–so far–but that doesn’t mean they cannot be in the future. We have got to convince Americans of what we, ourselves, already know about this strange, evil and dangerous man.
  7. Finally, Democrats must not give in to demoralization!!! In the political game, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Republicans, too, have been demoralized frequently in the last 25 years. They didn’t retreat to their country clubs and cry into their whiskey. They redoubled their efforts. That is what Democrats have to do: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never.” That’s how Churchill put it, in October of 1941, in England’s darkest hour, when large parts of London lay in smoking ruins following the Blitz, and Britain’s empire in Asia was under Japanese threat. Democrats: if this imposter wins, never give in! Resist! To the barricades! There really is a basket of deplorables out there and we must and will ultimately defeat them.
  1. “Every poll I’m aware of consistently missed the Trump phenomenon”

    Really? I think you’ve got it exactly backwards. The polls showed Trump as a front-runner almost from the moment he entered the race. It was political analysts (including amateur ones like me) who discounted those polls and assumed that Trump wasn’t serious, that it was a temporary phenomenon, that the Republicans would eventually rally around one establishment candidate, etc.

    If you just went by the polls, you would have had a pretty accurate prediction of what would happen. (Incidentally, this fact also undermines the claims by some that there are “hidden Trump voters” who aren’t showing up in his poll numbers — it didn’t happen in the primaries, where his actual vote percentages matched the polling pretty well.)

  2. redmond barry says:

    Your recipe is sensible, since it’s worked for the Republicans the last 6 years.I think the House and Senate will have to become more collegial, or at least appear so, and get some things done either in the next presidency or the one after that. Whoever occupies the white house will have to recognize this.

  3. Redmond Barry, I am not hopeful about collegiality in the House of Representatives. There are too many fanatical christian tea party types who have been gerrymandered in. They will compromise on nothing. The people who vote them in are from the basket of deplorables and they will never change.

  4. redmond barry says:

    They are a significant bloc(k). But their constituents have to eat,and I expect a Clinton White House to be astute at the carrot and stick of basic politics. The rest of the country wants to see some productivity out of D. C.

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