As the long, bloody slog that has been the Presidential Campaign 2016 draws to a close, it’s time to take inventory. Here’s a tentative list of the winners, losers, and toss-ups that have graced the headlines over the past news cycles.
Hillary Clinton. Um, yeah. Thirty years of struggling for the power of the Oval Office, a Democratic National Committee ready to conspire to win her the primaries, and she manages to lose to a guy who insults vets and Gold Star families, is accused of sexual harassment, and alienated a good chunk of his own party. Oh, she just narrowly manages to escape prosecution for irresponsibly handling confidential material, lying and withholding evidence from the FBI, and engaging in pay-to-play schemes. (I’m guessing a bunch of donors are wishing that Clinton Foundation donations were refundable.)
Barrack Obama. Republicans reap the fruit of Obama’s eight years of divisive politics, gaining control of the presidency, Congress, and a host of state legislatures and governorships. While Obama remains popular among voters, their decision to discard his watered-down nationalism, moral hubris, economic agenda, and allegations of systemic racism is clear. One of Trump’s go-to topics? The disaster of “Obamacare.”
The Donald. They said he couldn’t do it. He did it. ‘Nuff said.
Kellyanne Conway. Despite his ridiculous Twitter wars, immature and lewd comments, and allegations of harassment, Conway steered her candidate through the fray by keeping him on target and, according to some reports, restricting his Twitter access, pulling off one of the big upsets. Oh, and as a long-time pro-life advocate, she got the nation to focus on the gruesomeness of partial-birth abortion, if only for a moment.
Rural and blue-collar people. They’ve been maligned, caricatured, and ignored. Whether Trump really is the answer to their woes remains to be seen, but their turnout has reminded Democrats that identity politics is a sword that cuts both ways, and reminded both parties that blue-collar lives, and votes, matter.
Paul Ryan. On the one hand, the fact that there will be a Republican in the Oval Office can mean that the Speaker of the House may just have someone ready to sign his aggressively conservative “Better Way” agenda. On the other, Ryan’s rocky relationship with the president-elect (his stance after the infamous “Access Hollywood” videos opened the way for a lot of big names to condemn Trump) might limit his way to passing legislative reform as well as provide opportunities for ambitious rivals seeking the position of Speaker.
Ted Cruz. He is hated by the big-wigs in Congress because he used his opposition to them to propel himself to national fame. But he was the only serious contender to Trump in the primaries. Then he offended many by using the floor of the Convention to pointedly snub the nominee. Then in the fading days of the campaign he campaigned with Trump. With Trump in office, will Cruz be able to continue to ride the anti-establishment fever, will he take the opportunity to show his talent as someone able to get legislation passed, or will he slowly fade out of the limelight?