Jason Tanz, Wired:
If recent polls are right, Hillary Clinton is probably going to win the race for president in November. Did you feel a sense of relief as you read that sentence? As if, in just a few short months, this protracted battle for the future of our country will finally come to an end? As if we will wake up on November 9 like it’s the last episode of Newhart, shake off the bizarre dream of the Trump candidacy, and resume with our normal lives? (Oops. Spoiler alert.)
Well, too bad. The world won’t return to normal after the election, no matter who wins. And this is not just because Trump has unleashed political forces that won’t be easy to contain, or because a Republican-led Congress may be no more likely to cooperate with Clinton than they were with President Obama. It’s because elections are not the end of the argument, but the beginning of a new one.
Even if Trump loses the election and concedes gracefully — and neither of those outcomes are assured, not by a long shot — he still leaves behind a network of supporters that will make it difficult for Clinton to govern.
Clinton is terrible at building the kind of grass roots network that supports Trump, and that supported Sanders.
Moreover, Trump is already laying the groundwork for not conceding, with his claims that the election is “rigged.”
Moreover, do we even WANT Clinton to be able to govern effectively? She represents the Reagan/Bush/Clinton/Bush/Obama establishment that’s been running the country for the past 35 years. No, I am not saying there is no difference between all those administrations. There are significant differences. But what they have in common is that they serve D.C. and Wall Street, and leave the rest of us picking up table scraps.
Trump is just a figurehead. His supporters will go on without him. When he inevitably disappoints them, they’ll find some other figurehead, or, like the Tea Party, get co-opted.
Meanwhile the Republican establishment is gearing up to fight the Clinton White House in 2017 and beyond,, ready to claim that her election is not a mandate for her or her policies, but against Trump. Which may well be the case but it’s even MORE true that this election is already a mandate against conservatism. The Republican voters rejected conservatism when they voted for Trump, and the American people as a whole seem likely to reject Trump too. Conservatism has gotten its ass kicked twice in 2016. The Goldwater/Reagan revolution is over, it’s done, the American people have spoken decisively on that ideology and said Do Not Want.
And as for Goldwater: He got clobbered in the election, but he shaped political discourse for decades after. He continues to be a powerful political force today.
So don’t count Trumpism out, even if he loses.