Here’s Jonathan Chait on why Trump’s victory doesn’t represent a shot across the bow of progressivism:
Trump’s election cannot be called a decision by the voters to repudiate the liberal status quo because, for one thing, it was not a decision by the voters at all. The voters supported Clinton over Trump. The decision was made by the Electoral College, which as a matter of opinion can be called archaic, and as a matter of objective fact can be called anti-democratic. Again, the rules are the rules. But it remains the case that Ryan and his party have power not because of the will of the voters but despite it.
Convinced? I’m not, either. I’ll give Chait the Electoral College point, albeit with the usual caveat that the existing system determines where candidates campaign, which in turn affects how many “popular” votes they garner. But his conclusion that “Ryan and his party have power not because of the will of the voters but despite it,” and that last night “cannot be called a decision by the voters to repudiate the liberal status quo”? Nah.
Even if one thinks that Donald Trump’s election means nothing much at all — that it was the product of Hillary’s weakness or of Trump’s celebrity or of James Comey or what you will — one has to account for the massive Republican wave that came in underneath Trump (the second wave in three years, note). Republicans won the House for the tenth time in twelve elections, racking up a massive majority for the second election in a row. They lost only two seats in the Senate, leaving their total at 52. They improved upon their already-remarkable position in the states, bringing their count to 33 governor’s mansions and most than two-thirds of state legislatures. Hell, they won the governorship of Vermont, took complete control of Minnesota’s legislature, tied the state senate in Connecticut, and improved their position in Illinois (which has a GOP governor who can now use his veto). And they did so not with a mid-term electorate, but during a presidential race. This was a wave. A “repudiation,” if you will.