I would be fine with any of the five on this list of Democratic presidential contenders for 2020 (though Julian Castro–come on!), but I think Sherrod Brown would be the best one imaginable, preferrably with Kirsten Gillibrand as running mate. Doing better with motivating turnout from the white working class next time is a necessity, and Brown is one of the best people to do that that I can think of. But apart from that, Brown is the most logical successor to Bernie Sanders beside Elizabeth Warren (who I don’t think will run), holding the same sorts of views without Bernie’s downsides (i.e. age, the “socialist” tag). Unlike Bernie, though, who always held himself apart from the Democratic Party, Brown’s a Democrat in good standing who doesn’t have any insurmountable obstacles among the Clinton followers that I’m aware of (and my guess is that even that contingent will add a little populism to their game in response to this year, so any divide should narrow). He does have to win re-election next year, and Republicans will be well aware of the threat and do everything they can to beat him. But I’d bet on him to survive based on out-party off-year dynamics alone, let alone his political skill.

And for veep, Kirsten Gillibrand is the obvious choice. Her winning would still be historic, and could activate cosmopolitan women in much the same way that Hillary Clinton did. She’s a strong political talent and a solid liberal. But as she is from upstate New York, she would also be able to underline the same sorts of themes as Brown. She’s Charles Schumer’s protege, and as it seems that Schumer is now the new king of what used to be called Clintonworld, so he’d be happy. It would be a pretty strong ticket I think, one that should solve most of the problems we saw this year (though I suspect the bumbling, lazy authoritarianism of Trump will help with that too).

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Trump already signaling that he’d accept parts of Obamacare outright. Pretty ballsy to break your campaign promises three days after victory, though it underlines the difficulties in repealing the thing. Like Paul Ryan’s big spending cuts, it could very well happen, but I’ll believe them when I see them.

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Given that Trump is no longer running for president, I think the least he could do is to instruct his supporters to treat minorities with respect. Passion is understandable but they’re still Americans, etc. That’s the least he could do in response to the stories about racist yahoos intimidating people. If he can’t do that, then we have no business affording him any respect or benefit of the doubt.

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I was toying around with a similar post to when I read a Daily Kos item arguing the very same thing–that Trump’s win could prove Pyrrhic to conservatives–so I will just provide a link. Worth your time as you work your way through the depression/anxiety (whatever path you’re taking) over the election. I will say that it’s a mistake to just assume Trump’s rust belt voters will drift away from him if he doesn’t deliver anything. It’s safe to assume he won’t deliver anything, but who knows, downtrodden voters sometimes stick with politicians who they emotionally connect with even if they don’t deliver. The Greek electorate has largely stuck behind Alexis Tspiras, even though he’s morphed completely from a radical, arguably Trumpian figure who was going to tell off foreign creditors into an appeaser of them indistinguishable from the prior management. It’s the hero complex. I personally don’t believe in heroes, but most people do. Anyway.

What I will add is that Trump’s presidency is most likely to end up as a failed shitshow. Nobody who is elected president is truly prepared for the office, sure. But Trump’s lack of preparation is unprecedented: he’s basically starting at zero on policy, structure of government, legislative process, history, etc. I don’t want to make the mistake of underestimating him again, and perhaps he’ll be a quick learner. But being a candidate played into his particular strengths–gaining and holding attention–that the presidency does not, and the portrait given during the primary season was one of a man with an extremely short attention span, incapable of focusing for extended periods of time with difficulties in retaining information, which is a good thing when you have two months to learn literally everything. We saw that he can batten down the hatches when faced with dire humiliation for a while, at least, so I guess we’ll see. But come on. And this isn’t even getting into the personality issues, which disprove the “but he’ll have smart advisers around him!” canard–advisers can’t fix characterological defects (such as, say, a propensity for manufacturing chaos), and the more ignorant the person is, the more you have to worry about manipulation from those advisers. There’s simply no replacement for an engaged, curious, stable person in the presidency, and we will not have one. (Yes, there is sometimes an element of calculation to the chaos, and it’s possible he draws on qualities he always had, but for a man in his seventies who by all accounts has always been the same, I wouldn’t count on it.)

Not that this is a good thing, there’s a lot of damage he can and will do. But you do see why so many Republicans resisted him for so long. You really think Republicans want this guy selling their donor-class driven agenda? I suppose Trump has some administrative experience running his companies, but that sometimes ended in bankruptcies and lawsuits. Again, I don’t want to underestimate the enemy: Greg Sargent’s nightmare scenario of Trump riding a wave of stimulus growth to re-election in spite of mediocre approval ratings is definitely plausible (though also a possibility is probably the GOP’s greatest nightmare scenario: tax cuts + defense spending + infrastructure spending – any cuts = inflation, triggering a catastrophic revolt against the party by the elderly on fixed incomes). But it’s telling that that is the nightmare scenario, not that Trump winds up being a successful, dynamic, broadly popular right-wing president a-la Reagan. That would be the true nightmare scenario, I think, but Sargent doesn’t even envision it as a possibility. It could happen Greg! Anything can happen. But some measure of humility would be required in order to make the adjustments necessary to get there. Not much sign of that.

I’ll emphasize that this doesn’t mean to get off the horse–Trump’s going to do a lot of bad things, not the least of which is creating an environment of fear for ethnic minorities, which is already happening. We need to do everything in our power to stand up to him. But even George W. Bush–a clearly failed president–had observed presidential politics intimately and served as a governor. Trump is worse prepared than Bush while still possessing many of the same character traits (insecurity masked by arrogance, ignorance, dominator-dominated thinking, etc.) that led to his ultimate defeat. The only conclusion to be drawn is that Trump will be even less competent than Bush. Incredible.

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Howard Dean is running for DNC Chair again.

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Looking less and less like Trump found those elusive missing white voters, and more and more like Hillary Clinton’s stayed home. So that sucks. But while I like a lot of this Chait piece, I really think this misses the point:

Clinton’s own failures contributed to her image. Paranoia and terrible judgment caused her to bypass proper email etiquette, and greed led her and her husband to dangle their foundation and lucrative speaking business with the prospect of future access. It is fair that Clinton is not seen as a paragon of virtue. But it is absurd that she is seen as criminal, or coming within an order of magnitude of Trump’s dishonesty. That a figure of unparalleled secrecy and self-dealing managed to position himself as the candidate of relative honesty and good government is a staggering failure of the electoral process.

It took not only Clinton’s own contributions but months of attacks by Bernie Sanders on corruption related to big money and an allegedly “rigged” primary win.

Let’s talk about this for a second.

Bernie Sanders did indeed raise a narrative that badly harmed Clinton’s image. But there’s a big difference between the email server flap and the Sanders critique of the banker speeches: the former was spurious and the latter was not. Not at all. That it damaged Clinton wasn’t because Sanders had the temerity to bring it up, but that Clinton never actually managed to have a decent answer for it. As we discussed on the blog, she treated it mainly as an irritation or an intrusion. Clinton had months to come up with a way to deal with it and she never did. Months.

My point isn’t to rehash old business, but to say this: this is why Hillary lost. Democrats like Hillary (and Bruce Braley, and Creigh Deeds, and John Kerry) assume that campaigns are about information. Getting out information about policy. Getting out information about opponents. Getting out information about yourself. And so on. Information. Data. Policy. Supply it and voters will evaluate it and choose you. But information–and policy–while important, actually have a small role overall. Campaigns are about storytelling. Telling a story about yourself, about the country, about your opponent. Obama knew that. Bill Clinton knew it. Bernie Sanders knew it. But Hillary did not. Other candidates have faced worse scandals on an objective basis than her emails and speaking fees. I’d rate Obama’s Jeremiah Wright scandal over both in terms of a threat to the campaign. But Obama overcame it by weaving Wright into the narrative he was already telling about America and race. Admittedly, it wasn’t exactly a comparable case: Obama’s relationship with the media, while bad, is nowhere near as bad as Clinton’s, and we’re talking about a very different context and skill set. Still, it’s pretty difficult to deny that Wright was a white person’s nightmare of a black radical, and Obama nevertheless deftly dealt with it, maybe even making it an overall plus. That’s skill. Clinton could not do this over either of her scandals (or “scandals”) precisely because she had no story to tell, so they became the story. It remains amazing just how many Democrats fail to get this. I’m beginning to think they never will.

What should the story have been? It’s hard to say. Clinton was a fundamentally flawed candidate in that she was tasked with defending two separate presidential legacies, Obama’s and her husband’s (as well as her own less-than-spotless career). That’s a lot of constraints. Then you have the political currents of the times, which ran strongly toward populism and against establishment centrism. And then there’s Clinton herself. She lacks presentational flair and has little obvious talent for narrative, as well as tendencies toward paranoia and secrecy. The better choice would have been a different candidate altogether, a fresh face who could have run on their own, defining their own relationship to recent history. But barring that, the better choice would have been going aspirational rather than a Sandersian message that nobody bought coming from her anyway. Maybe that would have been a disaster, I don’t know. But it would have fit the candidate, and it might have cut a contrast with the rest of them.

God, what a mess.

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I’m never issuing an election prediction again.

Insanity.

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Vote, people!

Also, while everybody has been talking nonstop about what a horrible election this has been (myself included), it wasn’t entirely barren of wonderful little moments:

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