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Commentary: Exploring an Alternate Political History


A year ago last week Donald Trump was officially chosen president by the Electoral College.  Had 77 thousand voters in three states – Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania – voted for Hillary Clinton instead of Donald Trump, Ms. Clinton would have not only won the popular vote by three million, she would also have narrowly won the Electoral Vote. 

What would be different now had she been inaugurated on January 20 of this year, but everything else in D.C. stayed the same, that is, a Republican House and Senate?  You might be thinking this will be the shortest commentary ever, since the obvious answer is: Everything.

Actually, not everything.

Clearly, the difference list would be longer.  Let’s start with domestic issues:

·         The Cabinet would look different – not mostly retired generals and rich white men.

·         Obamacare reform proposals would be to lower the age for Medicare eligibility and to lower drug prices, not repeal-and-replace.

·         A $15 federal minimum wage, serious banking reform, and free college tuition for most would be proposed.

·         Federal judicial nominations would be stalled instead of fast-tracked.

In foreign affairs:

·         The U.S. would be a strong supporter of the Paris Climate Accords.

·         Russian president Vladimir Putin would not be best buds with the American president.

·         President Clinton would probably not be sending pre-dawn Tweets calling the leader of North Korea “Little Rocket Man.”

That’s a lot, and far from everything.  So what would be the same?

·         Nothing would be getting done in Congress.

·         There would be investigations into voter fraud in the 2016 elections.

·         There would be investigations into Russian connections to the White House.

·         There would be bills filed in the House of Representatives to impeach the president.

·         Conservative talk radio and Fox News would be rampant.

·         Donald Trump would be making millions from his businesses and properties.

·         The president would wear pants.

So plenty, especially the political culture in D.C., would look about like it does now.

A couple of words about the Alabama Senate election.  I was wrong about it.  Strong Democratic and female turnout produced an upset.  It’s actually an early Christmas present to both parties.  Democrats finally have won an election they should have lost.  Republicans don’t have to deal with the hemorrhaging nightmare that would have been Senator Roy Moore.  And Merry Christmas to you too.

Terry Smith is a political science professor at Columbia College and a regular commentator on KBIA's Talking Politics.