We Live in Interesting Times

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Poll workers await voters at the Bordeaux Library. Hillary Clinton carried Davidson County with 148,473 votes to Donald Trump’s 84,365 votes. Photo by: Russell Rivers, Jr.

NASHVILLE, TN — The long bitter campaign is over. The markets tumbled on the shocking news that Donald Trump won the White House.

Politico called it the biggest upset in American history while reactions around the world registered alarm and dismay at Trump’s victory. One Philippine newspaper, the Manila Bulletin, reported that some Americans are looking to move to New Zealand and Canada. Others, like El Pais in Spain, carried the headline: “United States Fears Total Paralysis.”

The election was deeply personal to many voters and feelings on both sides have been bruised. The country has not been so polarized in 50 years. The big question is whether Donald Trump can unite the country behind him as he heads to the White House as the least liked President-elect in modern times.

“The divisions are going to stay there,” said Vanderbilt historian Tony Schwartz.

Schwartz said, immediately following his victory over Hubert Humphrey in 1968, President Richard Nixon pledged to bring the country back together, but he was unable to do that. “It’s not easy to reconcile a country as polarized as we were in 1968 or as polarized as we are now,” said Schwartz.

Trump’s surprising upset carried-over to downstream races. While many Senate and House races were close, the GOP retained its majority in the House, 236-191: Republicans captured 51 Senate seats; Democrats 47.

As expected, Trump carried Tennessee. He received 1.5 million of the 2.6 million votes cast in Tennessee. Clinton received 868, 853 votes. Gary Johnson was a distant third with 70,266 votes.

In local races, Jim Cooper (D) handily won the 5th Congressional District seat he’s held for more than a decade. Erin Coleman (D) lost the state Senate 20th District race to Steven Dickerson (R), 44 percent to 56 percent. Brenda Gilmore (D) defeated Robert Sawyers (R), 86 percent to 14 percent, and Speaker of the House Beth Harwell (R) defeated Chris Moth(D) 58 percent to 42 percent.

The time between Election Day and Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, is traditionally a cooling off period, when both major parties adjust to the incoming Congress and the White House shifts into a transition mode. Civility during this period of change is traditional.

President Obama invited Trump to the White House on Thursday. Obama is being gracious but the insults and rhetoric were so personal and incendiary and so unrelenting during the campaign, it’s going to take more than a tour of the White House to calm troubled waters.

“Both sides are just used to talking at each other. Nobody is talking with each other,” said poll watcher Dana Moore outside the Bordeaux Library. “We need to learn to listen and talk to each other.”

Democrats may grant Trump a brief “honeymoon” immediately after he takes office, but both parties have shown little bi-partisanship during President Obama’s two terms. They are like an angry couple in need of marriage counseling. “They are going to have to govern and lead with all America’s concerns at the table, not just the ones they are comfortable listening to,” said Bishop Joseph Walker.

Few expect reconciliation to come soon or easily. The battle lines will quickly be rejoined if the Democrats try and block Trump’s nomination to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. With a Republican majority in Congress and Trump in the White House, the new administration will move quickly to advance Trump’s agenda.

Judging from his public statements Trump would take action to get rid of Obamacare and undocumented immigrants. Also, Trump is not likely to accept a new climate treaty to lower carbon emissions or increase workers’ rights or the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

He will increase the military budget and he will negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin to reduce tensions in the Middle East, especially in Syria. He will scuttle the TransPacific Partnership and raise tariffs on imported goods.

He will likely settle the dozens of lawsuits against him out of court.

Clinton called the President-elect at his campaign headquarters in New York City very early Wednesday morning to congratulate him. Trump told his supporters that he congratu- lated her and her family for a very hard fought campaign. “Hillary has worked very long and very hard for a long period of time and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country. I mean that very sincerely,” he said.

Davidson County Election Results are posted on the nashville.gov website: http://www.nashville.gov/ Election-Commission/About/Historical-Information/Election-Returns/November-8-Election-Results.aspx

Tennessee State Election Returns are posted by the Sec of State here: http://elections.tn.gov/results.php

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