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This time only two senators, both Republicans, lost their seats.Of the nearly 400 representatives running for reelection to the House, only eight lost, six of them Republicans and two Democrats.
How else could they have voted for a man many of them viewed negatively, according to exit polls, and even as unqualified for the job?
To paraphrase Trump’s famous campaign appeal to African American voters: With their lives and communities in such ruin, what the hell did they have to lose?
When I think of Republican Party civic virtues, I think of Eisenhower. But I disagree with two elements of instant analysis: that this was a sweeping “change” election, and that it reflected a pent-up desperation and fury that would have been evident if anyone had bothered to check with Americans “out there,” away from the coasts.
But voters, or enough of them, have chosen happened? In its calamitous effects—for climate change, in what might happen in a nuclear standoff, for race relations—this could indeed be as consequential a “change” election as the United States has had since 1860.
The long years I have spent living and working outside the United States have not simply made me more aware of my own strong identity as an American.
They have also sharpened my appreciation for the practical ramifications of the American idea.
I view Trump’s election as the most grievous blow that the American idea has suffered in my lifetime.
The Kennedy and King assassinations and the 9/11 attacks were crimes and tragedies.
Kennedy, when I was a 10th-grader, and then watching with my family through the grim following days as newscasters said that something had changed forever. All the pain and waste and tragedy of the Vietnam War, and then the public sense of heading into the utterly unknown as, for the first time ever, a president was forced to resign.
Through all this time, I have been personally and professionally, and increasingly, an American optimist.