“Toughen up” underlies the message Ezra Klein (vox.com) is sending to Democrats: Democrats won the most votes in the election. They should act like it.
Democrats should insist, in both appointments and legislation, that Trump govern with some consideration for the majority of Americans who voted for someone else. That should be the cost for their cooperation. Democrats should force both the media and Republicans to take seriously the fact that Trump is governing without a majority, or even a plurality, of the American people behind him, and that that carries with it a responsibility to govern modestly.
This is nothing more, and nothing less, than asking Trump to absorb the weight of the office he holds, and the message of the election he won. Trump is now president of the entire United States of America, not just the people who voted for him, and he needs to act that way. It’s the opposition party’s duty to remind him of that.
So far, there’s been little evidence that the media, the Democrats, or the Republicans really appreciate this. The media is still trying to understand how Trump won. Democrats are still trying to understand how Clinton lost. And Republicans are thrilled that they’re now in power. Everyone is so shocked by the election’s unexpected outcome that they’ve overlooked the actual results.
There’s been a lot of talk about “normalizing” Trump, but this is more fundamental: To ignore the election results and act like the strongest possible version of Trump’s agenda was endorsed by most voters re-historicizes Trump. It makes the election into something it wasn’t, and gives Trump license to govern in a way he shouldn’t.
Elections decide who wins power. They don’t decide how it should be wielded. If Trump governs in a way that respects the center of opinion in the country — a center Democrats appear to hold — Democrats should work with him. If he isn’t, then they should keep pointing that out, and force him to govern alone. They owe their voters nothing less.
BTW - here is another piece of evidence that Trump’s electoral win was not exactly a mandate by the majority of Americans. The Washington Post reports that Clinton won the economy two to one.
In the modern era of presidential politics, no candidate has ever won the popular vote by more than Hillary Clinton did this year, yet still managed to lose the electoral college. In that sense, 2016 was a historic split: Donald Trump won the presidency by as much as 74 electoral votes (depending on how Michigan ends up) while losing the nationwide vote to Clinton by 1.7 million votes and counting.
But there’s another divide exposed by the election, which researchers at the Brookings Institution recently discovered as they sifted the election returns. It has no bearing on the election outcome, but it tells us something important about the state of the country and its politics moving forward.
The divide is economic, and it is massive. According to the Brookings analysis, the less-than–500 counties that Clinton won nationwide combined to generate 64 percent of America’s economic activity in 2015. The more-than–2,600 counties that Trump won combined to generate 36 percent of the country’s economic activity last year.
Clinton, in other words, carried nearly two-thirds of the American economy.