I might be wrong in this estimation: Chapel Hill voted 99.9 percent for Hillary. Or perhaps I have it backwards: The town voted 99.9 percent against Donald Trump, and Hillary won by default.
Either way, Hillary won by a plurality of 2.5 million popular votes and was sent back home to New York to enjoy lonely walks in the woods, suggesting to me that Trump was correct: “The election’s rigged.” Even more confusing to me is that I was among the 0.1 percent of Chapel Hillians that voted for Trump – and Trump won. I really had no desire to see him, not her, become president. What happened?
I know exactly what happened. I voted for Al Gore in 2000, as did the majority of voters, but instead had to put up with the Supreme Court’s appointee, a dim-watt bulb called Dubya, for the next eight years. Disenfranchised and ignored, I lost faith in the electoral process – “It’s rigged,” I said, presaging Trump’s signature complaint by 16 years – and took to voting for third-party candidates, usually Libertarian, in state and national elections, and against local incumbents. Still angry 14 years later, still having voted in every election, still feeling a need to protest, I switched my lifelong political affiliation from DEM to UNA: unaffiliated, the new name for independents.
Then came 2016 and I felt the Bern! Bernie Sanders, a young fellow (he’s my age, you see) who waved his arms as he shouted in a growly, angry voice (anger! my man!), former mayor of Burlington (Ben & Jerry’s!), now a senator from Vermont (a state I could love, with its astonishingly low crime rate), neither GOP nor DEM but IND (see above), and a socialist (like my late parents). What’s not to love about the man?
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In the voting booth – actually, a small, stand-up table you might find in a New York deli – I looked sorrowfully at my choices. Clinton, Trump, Johnson (“Aleppo?”), Stein. No Bern. The Washington Post, New York Times, Huffington Post, Politico, and 538 all stated that Hillary’s chances of winning were somewhere between 99 and 100 percent.
What could go wrong if I voted for Trump, just to show the Democrats that I was disappointed in their choice of nominee? The only voice outside the GOP saying Trump would win was Michael Moore, the jowly filmmaker and semi-professional smartass who, I guessed, knew little about politics. I enjoy his iconoclasm, but I figured he’s a loud-mouthed doofus when it comes to politics. Even Nate Silver, who made a name for himself by getting it right last time (Obama – Romney), was about to get it wrong this time.
November 9. Early morning. I sat on the edge of the bed, drinking coffee. My wife, a Democrat since forever, had gone to bed early, while I watched the returns. “Didja stay up?” she asked from under the covers. “Yep.” She asked who won. “Trump.” Long pause; I sipped my coffee. She asked who I’d voted for. “Trump.” Longer pause, more coffee, no blame or bombast from beneath the covers. Supply your own explanation for her silence: What’s done is done. Water under the bridge. My husband’s a doofus.
What happens next in Trump’s America? We can ask the Hillary-will-win talking heads: They said the U.S. economy will tank (Dow-Jones industrials are up over 800 points since the election), domestic commerce will falter (the Consumer Confidence Index hit a 13-year high in December), and we will continue in our post-recession financial funk (Janet Yellin, fearing inflation from a strengthening economy, is raising interest rates).
Two more predictions: I’ll ignore the polls. I’ll vote Libertarian.