Barring a very improbable series of events we will more than likely be looking at President Trump once the numbers have been tallied overnight. And not just him but a radicalized Trumpian Congress, Senate — and because of the successful stonewalling against Obama’s nomination — Supreme Court. We’ve not just elected an authoritarian: we’ve also taken away the entire system of checks and balances that might be able to hold him back. Add to that the expansion of the raw power of the executive branch in recent years and it’s the setup for a dystopian TV show.
We’ve seen seemingly stable countries fall apart under conditions like this. We claim American exceptionalism but history is littered with the corpses of democracies that didn’t make it. This will be the biggest test of our civic values in our lifetimes. We might well experience things the American republic has never seen: the imprisonment of a losing opposition leader, the rise of organized hate crimes, wholesale theft of incredible wealth by a new oligarchy, the divying up of the world back into empires… The model of a kind of alt right soft dictatorship is well developed by this point and Trump has been clear throughout both his career and his candidacy that it’s his vision.
We do not get to choose our era or the challenges it throws at us. Only someone with historical amnesia would say this is unprecedented in our history. The enslavement of millions and the genocide of millions more are dark stains indelibly soaked into the very founding of the nation. But much will change, particularly our naivity and false optimism in an inevitable forward progress of our national story. We must respond with courage and grace. We’re going to get a lesson in what’s really important. Time to engage.