Tuesday, December 27, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: The Re-Set Is Always Bigger Than Anticipated

The new Donald Trump administration policy re-set, like the
recent historic ones before it, is likely going to be bigger
psychologically, as well as ideologically, than perhaps most
now assume it will be.

I cite, in the order they took place:

Hoover to Roosevelt in 1933
Carter to Reagan in 1981
George W. Bush to Obama in 2009

Each of the above represented a dramatic about-face in national
public policy. Each was not fully anticipated, even after election
day, to be the strong policy-changing phenomenon it became.
As the reader will note, there were only three such re-sets in
recent times. Roosevelt to Truman, Truman to Eisenhower,
Eisenhower to Kennedy, Kennedy to Johnson,, Johnson to Nixon,
Nixon to Ford, Ford to Carter, George H.W. Bush to Clinton, and
Clinton to George W. Bush each had transitions with some change,
obviously more when the presidency went from one party to the
other, but the changes were more of personality and degree than
of truly dramatic turns.

Big re-sets bring with them big political risks. In the cases of
Presidents Roosevelt and Reagan, their changes mostly worked
successfully for a longer period, and they were not only re-elected,
but in the case of 1988, Reagan’s vice president won. When they
don’t work well, as just happened with President Obama, they
trigger voter rejection.

In 2008, President George W. Bush finished his two terms under
the cloud of a mortgage banking meltdown that doomed John
McCain’s campaign against Barack Obama. Mr. Obama had not
campaigned as an agent of radical change, but as soon as he took
office he undertook major alterations of U.S. domestic and foreign
policy. The failure of his healthcare reform (known as Obamacare)
and the deterioration of his foreign policy worldwide, however,
made it difficult for Hillary Clinton to succeed him.

Actually, most new presidents don’t bring major policy re-sets
with them into office, and the state of general economic
conditions usually mark their tenure and their prospects for

Donald Trump, however, has not only promised major re-sets of
domestic and foreign public policies, his choice of cabinet
officers and White House staff clearly indicate such major change
is coming, and coming soon. It might not be “overnight” change,
of course, but his tax policies, trade policies, education policies,
immigration policies, judicial appointment criteria, as well as his
policies toward Europe, the Middle East, the United Nations, and
China each are likely to make some dramatic turns.

These changes, in themselves, do not guarantee success. I happen
to think his “supply-side” economic views, like Kennedy’s,
Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s efforts in the past will stimulate
the economy, but true supply-side success requires notable decreases
in public spending. Mr. Trump’s infrastructure ambitions might get
in the way of that. The new president, as I suggest, is likely to re-set
much economic public policy, but he could well not re-set much in
social policy, as some conservatives might hope he will.  His new
directions in foreign policy, and in reinvigorating the U.S. military,
are much needed, but the international landscape these days is a
an ambiguous and provisional stage of volatile operations --- and
Mr. Trump’s experience is limited (as was Mr Obama’s).

Donald Trump’s first 100 days as president of the United States
are something difficult to predict, from the vantage of three weeks
before he takes the oath of office, but they will be quite a spectacle.
Mr. Trump disrupted more than 50 years of political rules and
traditions, defied his critics’ judgments, and then won a national
campaign that upset almost everyone’s expectations.

As I asked out loud (in print) just after he won the Republican
nomination in Cleveland (then in terms of the general election
just ahead): What evidence is there that his performance as president
will be any less surprising than how he got to that white “bungalow"
on Pennsylvania Avenue in the first place?

We are only at the beginning of quite a political saga.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Weekend Update 24


The next major international election that will test the current
populist wave sweeping many democratic nations across the
globe will be in France in April. Three likely leading candidates
for president have emerged so far. Manuel Valls has been the
Socialist prime minister, and entered the race when the current
president, Francois Hollande, decided not to run for re-election.
He faces several opponents in a January, 2017 Socialist primary.
Thought by many to be now leading is Francois Fillon, a former
prime minister, the center-right nominee who defeated both Alain
Juppe, also a former prime minister, and Nicholas Sarkozy, a
former president, for the Republican nomination. On the right,
Marine Le Pen is the likely candidate of the populist  National
Front Party, and is the wild card in the election because she
represents many unhappy French working class voters who are
dissatisfied with the traditional main parties of the left and the
right. Many of these voters have been likened to the U.K. voters
who voted for Brexit, the U.S. voters who chose Donald Trump
and the Italian voters who forced that country’s prime minister
recently to resign.


President Trump has named all but three of his cabinet
appointees, and most of his White House staff and
advisors (only a few of whom require Senate confirmation.
Most observers, on both the left and right, were surprised
by how many strong conservatives he has chosen, and by
how adroit some of his choices have been to bring the
Republican factions, some of which did not support him
before the election, together. The former have alarmed many
Democrats who now see a major policy re-set coming to
Washington, DC, and the latter have, for the time being at least,
upset many hostile media predictions that there will be a
Republican civil war in the capital.


The difficult challenge facing Democrats in the 2018 U.S.
senate races (when 25 incumbent liberal seats are up for
re-election and only 8 GOP incumbents face the voters) was
just heightened by the announcement that Republican Ohio
State Treasurer Josh Mandel would challenge incumbent
Senator Sherrod Brown, a very liberal Democrat, who is seeking
re-election. Mr. Brown defeated Mr. Mandel in their first contest
in 2012, but since that time, the Buckeye State has gone from
blue-purple to red on the political scale, climaxed this year by
Donald Trump’s winning the state, and by Ohio’s other senator, 
Republican Rob Portman, winning re-election by a landslide. Mr.
Mandel also won the statewide Ohio treasurer’s race in 2014, and
has made much-praised strides in the state’s finances. He leads
all his potential GOP rivals by a wide margin.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016


I generally avoid hypotheticals, especially after an election
when the media (and the losers) often indulge in “what ifs”
such as “what if only a few thousand more voters in Michigan
voted for Hillary Clinton,” etc., etc. After the 2016 election,
however, several folks who do not like Donald Trump tried to
do something both unprecedented and wrong-headed --- they
made a huge effort to intimidate Trump electors across the
nation to cast their ballot for someone else. To show the
pointlessness and inappropriateness of this recent and failed
attempt by some leftists to thwart the constitutional process,
indulge me, if you will, in a quite credible alternative ending
to the 2016 presidential election.

Hillary Clinton clearly won the national popular vote. As I have
previously pointed out, we do not have a popular vote for U.S.
president, but an electoral college vote in the individual states.
Let us say that along with her winning most (but not a
majority) of the popular votes, Mrs. Clinton had also won
Florida and Arizona (each of which she actually lost by small
margins) with their combined total of 40 electoral votes, thus
winning 272 electoral votes or two more than necessary to be
formally elected president.

Her supporters, of course, would not then have mounted a
campaign to have electors change their votes. On December 19,
however, five Clinton electors did vote for someone else. Then
with only 267 electoral votes, this would have put Mrs. Clinton
below the 270-vote threshold required by the U.S. constitution to
win the presidency. The election would then automatically go to
the U.S. house of representatives where Republicans have a large
lead among the 50 states. Donald Trump, having lost both the
popular vote and the electoral vote, then would almost surely
win the vote in the U.S. house and become president next
January 20, 2017.

This, of course, did not happen, but some Democrats, having
opened the political Pandora’s Box of trying to intimidate electors
to become “faithless” in 2016, could now face a backfire in 2020
or 2024, when the tactic might work against the Democrats in an
entirely possible close election.

If it does, they will only be able to blame themselves.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 19, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: More Than A Formaiity

The formal voting of the electoral college in the 50 state
capitals and the District of Columbia is the constitutional
conclusion of the U.S. presidential election, but it is not
merely a formality. It is inherently part of the American
system of representative democracy until now.

The founding fathers in 1787 created an incredible document,
albeit one with some flaws. The worst of these flaws was the
prolonging of slavery and the arbitrary limit of voting rights.
Both of these were repaired, although it took a civil war to fix
the former, and more than 100 years to fix the latter.

Twenty-seven amendments to the U.S. constitution have been
made in the past 228 years to fix these and several other flaws.

The establishment of the electoral college as the specific
vehicle to elect the president of the United States was the result
of compromises that preserved a balance between the states
and the federal government overall, and to keep a balance in
the power between the large states and the smaller ones. As a
result, the election of the president is not purely a popular
vote election. After four elections in which the winning
candidate did not receive the most popular votes for president
in the l9th century, more than 100 years passed until this
circumstance reoccurred --- in 2000. Now, in 2016, it has
happened again.

In recent years, there have been efforts made to change this
part of the constitution, either to eliminate the electoral college
altogether, or to keep it, but make it conform to the national
popular vote. The latter is an ingenious way to bypass the
amendment process, but accomplish the same goal. Its advocates
have been asking state legislatures to pass a law that requires a
a state to cast its electoral votes for the winner of the national
popular vote, regardless of who won that state’s popular vote
for president. If this effort can obtain the support of enough
states to cast at least 270 electoral votes under this method, it
will make the old electoral college method moot, and will have
done it without the difficulties of a constitutional amendment.
If it succeeds, the only remaining obstacle would be a requisite
approval of its constitutionality by the U.S. supreme court.

There are legitimate and serious arguments on both sides of
the question of maintaining an electoral college system or going
to a purely popular vote for president. This debate will now
continue, and should, as the nation seeks to find the best way
to choose its chief executive and commander-in-chief.

What is not legitimate is the argument that a person who wins
the electoral college, but not the popular vote, is not properly
elected president. The system we now have is the one that all
candidates for president know is in place. The strategy of a
presidential election is based on this system. There is no way of
knowing, for example, whether or not Donald Trump would
have won the popular vote, too, in 2016 if he and his campaign
knew that was the only way to win the contest. There can be no
doubt that the Trump campaign would have been different if
the candidate and his campaign knew they had to win the
popular vote and not the electoral vote.

We live in a time when some are eager to discard some of the
traditions of our long and mostly successful form of government.
Some legacies, such as slavery, segregation, limited voter
suffrage, and others, indeed, needed to cast away. Others have
extraordinarily helped preserve our freedom and prosperity.

We have a new president, properly elected. He will now be
subjected to the attention all presidents receive, including praise
by some, and criticism from others, for his performance. And
should he wish for another term of office, he will have to submit
himself to the voters four years from now.

If enough states choose to adopt the popular vote for president,
he will have to abide by that method. Otherwise, we now have only
one way to choose the leader of the executive branch of

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 12, 2016


As long-time readers of this column know, the Prairie Editor
participates in an annual private dinner that commemorates
the memory of Winston Churchill on or near his birthday,
November 30.

Other such dinners take place in the U.S. and the United
Kingdom, and with no doubt more celebrated participants,
but none are likely to be more interesting in their culinary
fare, nor truer to the spirit of parliamentary debate in which
the English statesman so singularly and memorably contributed
during his long stint as a member of the British lower house.

It has been 142 years since Sir Winston was born , and the local
dinner here in Minneapolis was begun 42 years ago on the
centenary of his birth. It began as a dinner for six politically
active Minnesotans with a modest six-course menu featuring
breaded oysters, roast ham, good cigars, and some decent

The host, a prominent local attorney nationally known for his
arboreal conservation efforts, has repeated the dinner every
year since, all but one at his home. It now has nine guests (on
a permanent list), is black-tie (one guest shows up in a formal
Scottish Highland kilt), and the occasion goes through twelve
courses, numerous bottles of the finest wines and cordials, and
the best cigars, over an eight hour period beginning in the late
afternoon. The host, an excellent amateur chef, no longer does
the cooking himself, but the dinner is prepared by a talented
professional chef/sommelier who in his day job serves as one of
the major wine buyers in the region.

The participants are older gentlemen who have been, or are still,
active, in public affairs, and include a former congressman, a
former city councilman, two former candidates for governor,
a former presidential appointee, current and former business
executives, an architect, the host, and yours truly. Politically,
the guests range from liberal to centrist independent to

Toasts are offered to Mr. Churchill, Her Majesty The Queen,
the president of the United States, and (on this occasion) the
president-elect of the United States.

The event begins in a fireplace-lit library of leather chairs,
antique furniture, and two stories of a fine book collection,
with the serving of a variety of appetizers including breaded
oysters, Gouda cheese on zweiback, irresistible shrimp toasts,
and very dry Spanish sherry.

The conversation between the invitees, many of whom have not
seen each other since the previous dinner, is cordial, and with
the surprise presidential election result, was destined to be lively.
This phase is then closed with the playing of a recording of one
of Mr. Churchill’s speeches, delivered by himself.

The diners then move to the nearby formal dining room where
the table settings are elegantly arranged with sterling silverware
of numerous and various forks, spoons and knives, several crystal
wine and water glasses, and the finest china for each diner.

This year’s meal began with fresh lobster, three imported
cheeses and pasta, playfully described as “lobster mac and cheese.”
(The Kraft folks never sold any package which produced
so rich a dish as this.) The next course was sliced, slow-roasted
goose breast with a fig-madeira sauce accompanied by red
cabbage. The following course was tenderloin of American bison ,
served rare with a porcini shallot sauce, and was accompanied by
a brilliant potato pave, as well as sauteed fresh Brussels sprouts,
parsnips and carrots.

Accompanying the pasta course was a German Weiser Burgander
(pinot blanc) 2014.. With the poultry course came a French
Chateau de Haute Sette 2010 (Cahors). A powerful Roth Estate
Heritage Red 2013 (Sonoma)  was paired with the bison.

The next course was an arcata French bread with blue cheese
butter. Mineral waters, including San Pellegrino, Blu Italia, Evian
and Gerolstein were poured.

The chef’s own winter citrus salad was then served, and it was
followed by dishes of passion fruit and raspberry sorbets.

A traditional course at this dinner, in the English manner, is the
serving of a preserved citron. A number of guests have in the past
eschewed this course, and so candied ginger, apricots and dates
are also provided.

A new course at this year’s dinner was the presentation of an
historic panettone Milanese. This artisan holiday cake is now
made locally at Cossetta’s bakery and pasticceria by its own
bakers who were recently trained in Brescia, Italy by the greatest
living panettone master. It was served, as is often the custom,
with an espresso corretto, brewed on the host’s own
coffeehouse-quality apparatus.

The concluding course in the dining room was  Colston and
Basset farmhouse stilton cheese, accompanied by glasses of
Ferreira 20-year old tawny port.

The final phase of this annual dinner now moved to the host’s
living room where cigars of the world’s finest selections were
handed out. Snifters of Dudognons “Grand Champagne” cognac
or Tariquet bas armagnac were poured. For those who preferred
it, glasses of Iowa Templeton rye whiskey was offered.

The lively political discussion begun in the dining room was now
picked up in even more fervent detail over cigars and cordials.
A sheet was passed around to all attendees with which to make
predictions about politics, public policy, sports, and finance for the
coming year. (Only one guest had predicted the nomination of Mr.
Trump at the 2015 dinner, and only one had predicted that the
Chicago Cubs would win the World Series.)

Bringing the long evening to a close was the opening of bottles of
Duval Leroy Brut Reserve champagne and the serving of a
delicious guest-made cheesecake with fresh blackberries.

As the Churchill dinner attendees prepared to leave into the
chilly post midnight snowfall, each was offered a container of a
popular but removed-from-the-menu annual course, cream of
peanut soup Williamsburg. It had been prepared the night before
so that the gentlemen of this dinner might have a special culinary
memento to take home to their families.

Except on a few cruise ships, an elaborate Edwardian meal such as
this is almost no longer available. And even when a multi-course
gourmet meal is offered, there are very, very few such robust,
celebratory and provocative occasions as this one continues to
be on a cold winter night in these quickly-changing times.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Successful Men And Women

President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet-level appointments
and other staff choices have been so far quite impressive.
His opponents, including Democrats, others on the left and
the mainstream media are predictably not happy with most
of them. (Neither were Republicans and other conservatives,
it should be recalled, delighted with President Obama’s

The new president needs to gather around him men and
women he can trust, who generally share his views and will
follow his policies, and who have a high likelihood of success
in their work.

With most of his top appointments now made, there are a few
observations which can be made about them. First, there is a
remarkable diversity in them with figures from the
Asian-American, African-American, Indian-American
communities, as well as a very significant number of women.
There are several businessmen and high-ranking military
men. They are all, it should surprise no one, conservative,
and in many cases, quite opposed to the policies of the
soon-to-be-ended Obama administration.

But there is a common theme to virtually all of these
appointments, and that is that each of them has a record and
history of success in their work. What better predictor of
performance in public service is there than past  performance
in public and private life?

The federal government is now going to have a serious reset
of public policies. This is not only the consequence of Mr.
Trump’s victory, but of the voters decision to put the
conservative party in control of the Congress. It will not only
include the repeal of Obamacare (and its replacement with a
free market alternative) and the cancellation of many unpopular
executive orders and controversial federal regulations, it will
take place across the public policy board. There will be a new
foreign policy, new tax policies, new education policies, new
environmental priorities, and most importantly, a new
tone of voice from the “bully pulpit.” Mr. Obama, whether he
intended it or not, promoted a heightened “divisiveness” in the
nation. Mr. Trump’s challenge will be to lower the temperature
of political discourse.

All of the above lies ahead. Mr. Trump’s efforts might be or
might not be successful. There will inevitably be disagreements
with his words and actions not only by his opponents, but, on
occasion, by his friend as well.

However, his “team of rivals” and “team of successful men and
women” appointments so far mean that all Americans,
whether they voted for him or against him, have some credible
evidence that the political change made on election day, 2016
could have positive and hopeful results.

It’s time for the so-called mainstream reporting media, having
failed in their abortive coup d’etat to prevent Mr. Trump from
taking office, to take the collective chip off their shoulders,
and give President Trump a fair shake. The editorial media is
free to say what they will, and should, but I will repeat one more
time: The front page is not the editorial page.

Copyright (c) by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 5, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: A Contagion of Mutinies

The latest election results from Europe confirm what The
Prairie Editor
has been contending for many months, that a
worldwide “mutiny of the masses” is underway, sweeping aside
establishment institutions and politicians --- and upending the
democratic political environments virtually everywhere.

Following the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, the Colombia
referendum, and Donald Trump’s victory in the United States, we
now have the resignation of the Italian prime minister following
a rejection of his national referendum. Changing Italian
governments, of course, has been a common occurrence in the
post-World War II era, but this one is probably different, coming
with it an imminent Italian banking crisis that could upset the
whole European Union financial system.

But that is not all.

In Austria, a far right candidate for president only narrowly lost
this past weekend. The anti-establishment Pirate party in Iceland
has been asked to form the next government there. Mutinous grass
roots anti-establishment movements are poised soon to make
large gains, if not take power, in France, Germany, Spain and The
Netherlands. The Scandinavian nations, once the epitome of leftist
social welfare regimes, are moving distinctly to the right. Noisy
separatist movements are active in the U.K., Spain, Belgium, The
Netherlands, and Italy.  Economies are at the edge of collapse in
Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy. All of the newly-independent
Eastern Europe nations are understandably nervous about the
aggressive posturing of a revived Russia under Vladimir Putin.

In short, there is a contagion of a mutiny of voters in the free
nations of the West.

The new American president, brought to power by this impulse,
now faces a complex shifting of the international order,
confounded not only by the voter mutinies in the free world, but
also by powerful challenges from the totalitarian states of Asia,
including China and North Korea, and from the deterioration of
Cuba, Venezuela, and Brazil in South America. And I have not yet
mentioned the perpetual tinderbox of the Middle East with its
ongoing crises in Syria, Iraq, and Libya, as well as the threats to
the neighborhood from a capacious Iran seeking to dominate the
region. Finally, there are chronic crises in Afghanistan, Pakistan
and Southeast Asia, including the recent political rise in The
Philippines of an anti-American demagogue.

It is onto this extraordinary and daunting international stage that
the new president of the United States and his secretary of state
will enter and must perform on January 20, 2017.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: A Democrat's Dilemma

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York is the new Democratic
minority leader in the U.S. senate, and he is no doubt eager to
put his own stamp on his conduct on that institution, especially
as he succeeds the polarizing, mean-spirited Harry Reid who
contentiously held that same post before him.

Mr. Schumer’s liberal party is also coming off a presidential race
it had expected to win. It had also anticipated picking up more
than the two senate seats it did gain, and a net gain of more U.S.
house seats. Currently, it appears that the Republicans will have
52 seats in the new senate in January, and the Democrats will have
48 seats. The latter number includes two independents, Angus
King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont who caucus with
the liberal party. It also includes two very centrist senators,
Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West
Virginia. Senator Heitkamp is rumored to be a possible cabinet
member in the new Trump administration, and should that
happen, her replacement in conservative North Dakota would
likely be a Republican.

Republicans also have advantage of Vice President Mike Pence
serving as the presiding office of the U.S. senate, with the power
to break any tie votes.

Mr. Schumer has let it be known, as have several of his liberal
colleagues, that the Democrats in the senate intend to be very
aggressive in blocking the initiatives and appointments of
President Trump. Since 60 senate votes are required for
bringing many laws to the floor, this could be an effective tool
for the liberal opposition.

But while Harry Reid was known for his hyper-partisanship
and highhandedness when he led the senate, Chuck Schumer is
known for his willingness to make deals. Moreover, the critical
prospect hanging over Mr. Schumer’s political head is what
might happen in the mid-term elections of 2018 when 25 of his
Democratic colleagues are up for re-election and only 8 GOP
senate seats are up. Many of those liberal incumbents are from
states that voted for Mr. Trump in 2016, and if the Democratic
opposition is perceived negatively by the voters because they
appear to be stalemating the government and blocking economic
recovery, the 2018 election could be a replay of 2014 when the
conservative party picked up 9 seats.

Historically, the first mid-term elections in a new administration
do not go well. Incumbent presidents and their parties lose seats
in the Congress. Presidents Kennedy, Reagan, George W. Bush
and Obama faced economic downturns. The short but spectacular
political career of Donald Trump, however, has seemed to defy all
recent precedents. The fact that his economic policies are designed
to stimulate economic growth and higher employment could break
this pattern of cyclical recessions in the short term and create a
positive outlook in 2018. That might suggest political disaster for
Democratic senate election hopes that year, especially if the liberal
party and Mr. Schumer were perceived as standing in the way of
national prosperity.

Making Mr. Schumer’s task even more complicated is the internal
party reaction to the losses of 2016. Already there is pressure from
the more leftist wing of the Democratic party, led by Bernie
Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, to move the Democrats further to
to the left, possibly under a new and radical party leader. This is
almost precisely what occurred in Great Britain recently when the
liberal Labour Party was defeated by the Conservative Party in
national elections. Abandoning the center left, Labour chose a
distinctly radical leader who made the radical wing of the party
feel good, but immediately sent the Labour Party poll numbers
into a nosedive (where they remain today).

Chuck Schumer is a very bright man, and an agile politician.
Although an aging and (many feel) discredited Nancy Pelosi was
re-elected as the minority leader in the U.S. house, the true
leadership of the national Democratic Party now passes to him,
at least until the next presidential election. With the
unconventional and unpredictable Donald Trump in the White
House, and Republican majorities in both house of Congress, the
senior senator from New York faces the biggest challenge and
most difficult choices of his political career.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Interim Of Adjustment

The next seven weeks will be an interim of adjustment for
almost everyone in the public policy/political world. Both
winners and losers need to take, I think, some deep breaths.
It is not, in my opinion, a time for either gloating or despair,
but rather a time to get used to some new political realities.

Much is now being made in the media, and by pollsters, that
the nation remains “deeply divided.” Like all conventional
wisdom this past campaign season, this is likely less accurate
than it seems to be. In a period of change, divisions can

Donald Trump has defied conventional wisdom as no other
political figure has in modern times. He has won an historic
victory, but he did not win the popular vote, nor did he win the
electoral vote without narrow margins in some states. Now in
control of most institutions of state and local government, the
Republican Party has a critical burden to deliver reform and

Mr. Trump’s appointments will not be greeted with pleasure
by his opponents. They are not meant to do so. A cabinet and
its staffing are meant to enable a president, especially in 2017,
to effect reform. So far, Mr. Trump’s appointments seem
designed to enable him to work closely with the U.S. house
and senate to make reforms happen.

The Democratic Party is now faced with two very important
decisions. One is to decide who are the voters it wants to reach
out to in the future. This is especially key because the coalitions
of recent decades, so carefully assembled and successful, might
not fit the needs and expectations of voters next year and
beyond. I have already noted that the British Labour Party,
following a national defeat, chose to go the left with the result it
has lost support, not gained it. The second key decision is to
decide how to respond to President Trump and his new
administration. With only a small margin in the U.S. senate,
Republicans will need some cooperation from Democrats on
some issues. Liberals will need to decide whether their
legitimate role as the opposition excludes cooperation and
negotiation, and how their decisions on this will be perceived by

Republicans, on the other hand, need to decide not only how to
make change and reform government policies, but also how to
work with their Democratic colleagues. When the Democrats
were in control, their leaders, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi,
essentially ignored their opposition --- and the result was
disaster. Their highhandedness led directly to political defeat
in 2010 and 2014. This might be the result for Republicans in
2018 if they forget that they did not win all thr votes in 2016.

The Democratic nominee for president received more votes than
the Republican nominee did on election day, but she did not win
a majority of votes cast. Liberals, therefore, should not assume
their brand of public policy represents a majoritarian view. In fact,
so many of their supporters located in only one kind of location,
If conservatives can follow through with more appeal to inner
city voters, the Democrats are in more trouble than they now

In fact, the 2016 election has revealed a new electoral playing
field. Both liberals and conservatives need to think very
carefully and creatively about what they will do next.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.