Belmont Club

On Waking Up the Day After

While the winner of the 2016 presidential elections is still unknown, some things are now virtually certain. First whoever wins, the American “slave rebellion” — what media outlets call the “populist” uprising — is a fact. History has served notice that the old liberal project will be challenged.  Whatever electoral judgment may be passed on the fitness or competence of its would-be leader or Spartacus, the rebellion will not disband itself on November 9 and go away.

Second, the tumultuous events of the last six months have dragged the Deep State into the fray.  A slow-motion “constitutional crisis” is already occurring. The future of the Supreme Court, the independence (or neutrality) of the FBI, the role of Congress are now at issue. In the words of President Obama: “I hate to put pressure on you but the fate of the Republic rests in your hands. The fate of the world is teetering.” The election has become a referendum.  It is not just who heads the executive branch but what the executive branch will become that are on the ballot.  Obama’s legacy and the political arc of the last 40 years are up for a vote. “The American Brexit is coming,” wrote James Stavridis in Foreign Policy, a comparison which if anything understates the case.  If anything could have demoted Brexit to the 2nd most important political event this year, the presidential election can.

Third, on November 9 America’s next president will face the greatest domestic and foreign policy challenges since Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s. It does not close the door on the past.  It opens the door to an unfamiliar and in many ways terrifying future.  If the election is about American jobs, it is also about whether and if the United States can halt or slow the chaos set loose through the world. The fate of the Obama legacy and certainly the near-term future of the general peace are now the order of businesss of whoever emerges Tuesday.

Tuesday, of course,is merely a notional date because a crisis of such magnitude cannot end so cleanly.   The very electoral process has become enmeshed in the issues it controverts.  It’s become a battleground in which the slave rebellion, the divided deep state and foreign influences will contend. Its boundaries are ill defined as the forces now playing on it.  Its resolution may be drawn out, attended by controversy and only grudgingly accepted.

Beyond the probability that November 8 marks the beginning and not the end, little can be predicted. All anyone can do is comfort himself with the words of Shakespeare’s Brutus at Philippi.

Why, then, lead on. O, that a man might know
The end of this day’s business ere it come!
But it sufficeth that the day will end,
And then the end is known.

Play it by ear.  It’s all you can do.

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