Updated: Corrected date in title.
November 9th should be a day of celebration. America will have elected its first female president. That is a reason to celebrate the evolution of American politics.
November 9th could be a day of infamy. America will have rejected a white supremacist, a misogynistic, bullying, sexual predator. And white-right males, fearful of that evolution, will launch a backlash at the new president.
Paul Waldman (Washington Post/Plum Line) predicts such a backlash against Clinton. Here is some of his thinking.
Of course this is how the Trump campaign ends.
It ends not because Donald Trump is a buffoonish ignoramus who neither knows nor cares how the government works or what policies consist of, not because of his naked animus toward Latinos or Muslims or African-Americans, not because he has no more impulse control than your average toddler, and not because he is running what is probably the most incompetent presidential campaign in history (even if all those things would have ultimately led to his loss anyway).
No, Donald Trump’s campaign ends when a parade of women allege that he not only sees all women as sexual objects, but also believes that his status — or if you prefer, his privilege — allows him to violate their bodies whenever it pleases him, to grope them and kiss them and walk in on them when they’re dressing, whether they want him to or not.
This is how, 240 years after America’s founding, we finally get our first woman president: with the fall of the most boorish, misogynistic bully our political system could produce.
And make no mistake, there will be a backlash.
The fact that the issue of Trump’s predatory behavior is what brings him down will only fuel the anti-feminist backlash that will mark the Clinton presidency, just as a racial backlash marked the Obama presidency. Clinton’s election will be a profound symbol of the slow decline of white men’s unquestioned place atop our societal hierarchy, leaving more and more of them feeling that they’ve lost something, that they aren’t afforded the deference they deserve and were once granted.
We’ve seen a hint of what’s to come at Trump’s rallies, where chants of “Lock her up!” reverberate and the most popular t-shirt reads “Trump That Bitch” in huge letters (and that’s not to mention some less printable slogans that pop up as well). If Barack Obama’s term provides a model, a Clinton presidency would likely see political and policy disagreements transmogrified into claims of discrimination against oppressed males. Just as certain conservative media figures proclaimed that every Obama policy from the stimulus to the Affordable Care Act was “reparations” — i.e., Obama stealing money from innocent whites to give it to undeserving blacks — you can bet that they’ll characterize Clinton’s policy choices as a scorched-earth campaign of feminist vengeance inflicted upon defenseless men.
Maybe all that will fade once the election is over. Maybe Republican politicians won’t encourage it the way they did with Obama by winking at birtherism (after all, they have daughters!). Maybe we’ll be able to just argue about policy and politics, without the opposition party and its supporters convincing themselves that they’re terribly oppressed, and the president is waging a war against them because of who that president is and who they are. Maybe. But I doubt it.