The world is going just a little bit crazy today. At noon on Friday, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. Love him or loathe him, you’ve got to admit that The Donald is the most unusual candidate we’ve sent to the White House in our lifetimes, and that includes you readers who can still remember the days of Babe Ruth and Claudette Colbert.
If the social media such as Facebook can be used as indicators, folks are divided into two camps: this is the greatest thing ever, or, this is the worst thing ever. This is either the millennium or the apocalypse, depending on how red or blue you are.
Now, as you might guess, I belong to one of the two major political parties and generally – but not always – vote for the candidates of my tribe. If you know me personally, you have a pretty good idea of whether I dig elephants or donkeys – politically speaking, of course – but you may have trouble parsing my placid, philosophical attitude on this historic day. So here are my messages, for what they are worth.
TO MY REPUBLICAN friends. Don’t get too excited. Remember that your guy actually lost the popular vote by over 2.7 million, and had the support of only about 46 percent of those who cast ballots. It is only through the peculiar institution of the Electoral College – concocted in the 18th century – that your man was chosen as Chief Executive.
TO MY DEMOCRATIC friends. Don’t get too excited. There’s a congressional election in 2018, and if Mr. Trump screws up as badly as y’all are certain he will, he should be facing a hostile Congress before the new Rams-Charger stadium opens. Two years later, it will be “Happy Days Are Here Again” for Elizabeth Warren or Andrew Cuomo.
TO MY REPUBLICAN friends. Have you noticed that despite your party’s advantage in Congress, more Americans vote for Democratic candidates than Republicans even in off-year balloting? Every 10 years, there is redistricting based on the new Census. Your party has been able to increase its hold on the House, for example, by making an unholy deal with the Democrats – safe seats for you in exchange for more seats for me. That sort of log-rolling can’t last forever.
TO MY DEMOCRATIC friends. Year in, year out, public opinion polls and voter registration shows there are more of You than Them. So why have you lost the White House, the Senate and the House? Why has your party been unable to articulate a message that gives more people a reason to actually show up at the voting booth on Election Day? Did you take part of the old Grand Coalition of minorities, women, urbanites and labor for granted?
TO MY friends of either party. The Other Guy is not the devil. If you use terms like “libtard” or “right-wing wingnut” in your political discourse, you are one of those remarkable 100 percent Americans who hates 50 percent of your fellow citizens. Believe it, or not, many of The Other Guys are sincere people who have – in their own minds, anyway – good reasons for feeling the way they do. Treat them kindly, as you would a crazy uncle. Things may be great – or awful – today, but nothing is more certain than change. The Big Shoe you use to kick the Other Guy may be on the other foot before you know it.
Jim Tortolano’s Retorts appears weekly, usually on Wednesdays, except when he goes to Santa Rosa for three days.