I thought I knew what pain is.

Pain is getting ready to do some last-minute campaigning for a friend and being stopped in your tracks by a slippery floor, leading to a sudden collision between your head and a very hard countertop.

Pain is a jolt to most parts of the body — but particularly to the cranium — accompanying such a fall. I got up and called to tell my friend’s campaign manager I wouldn’t be going door to door that afternoon after all.

But I didn’t have any idea what true pain is until a few hours later, after watching the nightmarish election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. It hurt worse than a dozen hits to the head ever could.

The politically astute TV talking heads I watch on MSNBC and CNN assured Americans for weeks that the election was essentially a formality. After running the most horrific campaign in modern history, Trump would quickly lose one of the eight “battleground” states he had to win and Hillary Clinton would become the nation’s first woman president. Crack open the champagne!

The only mystery was supposed to be the size of her victory, which many Democrats thought would be a landslide. She needed 270 electoral votes — would she get 350? Maybe even 400?

It seemed like a logical outcome. Trump spent the past year and a half insulting Latinos, African-Americans, veterans, calling women stupid pigs and bragging that he could do anything sexually that he wanted to females because of his celebrity. He ridiculed a Mexican judge, Sen. John McCain, the Pope and a Gold Star family and looked and acted like a clown during all three of his debates with Clinton.

Trump was exposed as a billionaire con man who ran a phony university, didn’t pay federal income taxes and stiffed the contractors who built the opulent buildings upon which he slapped his name. Meanwhile, the media gave him $3 billion worth of free advertising.

If there was one thing I knew for certain about politics, it was that a candidate couldn’t anger women, Latino, black and gay voters — plus be endorsed by the KKK and other white supremacists — and win the presidency. To think so would be preposterous.

Right. Now we know anything can happen if there are enough voters who say they’re sick of the Washington establishment, legislative gridlock, immigrants and seeing American jobs exported to other countries. And if the media gives the candidate $3 billion worth of free advertising.

It also proves we can no longer ignore the tremendous effect of an endorsement from the most powerful political duo in America — Scott Baio and Vladimir Putin.

Although Wyoming voters didn’t need any encouragement from Trump to cast their ballots for Republicans, they came out in droves with him at the top of the GOP ticket. A lot of people nationwide apparently despise Hillary, but Wyoming Republicans really hate her.

Larger ‘R’ stamp on Wyoming Legislature – with new wrinkles

One more political expectation I thought would become reality was that this was the year Democrats would make some significant gains in the Wyoming Legislature. Instead of giving Republicans a free ride with no-contest general elections, as so often in the past, Democrats had assembled a slate of candidates to run in most Senate and House districts throughout the state. And they weren’t just people whose names were filling space on the ballot; the vast majority were qualified candidates with good ideas who wanted to serve their communities.

The one-party rule that has run the state Legislature for years isn’t healthy. Development of better ideas and the kind of compromise work needed to create laws that would help all of Wyoming’s citizens won’t result from the practice of people automatically voting for every candidate with an “R” beside his or her name.

Polls done by the University of Wyoming have shown that there is broad support from Wyoming residents for Medicaid expansion, equal pay for equal work and keeping public lands in public hands — all positions backed by Democrats that have been eagerly smashed to smithereens by the GOP leadership.

Before Tuesday’s election, Democrats held nine seats in the 60-member House and four in the 30-member Senate.

For the next two years House Democrats will still have nine seats, while the Senate is down to only three. You can forget about Medicaid expansion in Wyoming, even if Republicans in Congress don’t manage to repeal it from the Affordable Care Act.

Ironically, now the “establishment” Republicans are going to find themselves forced to try to find compromises with the increasing numbers of far-right wackos who have ridden the “R” coattails into the Legislature. Debates in the legislature may morph into even more posturing on social issues while the real business of the state gets short shrift. How to best serve the people in a time of shrinking revenue from traditional sources needs real thought right now: will we get that?

Once again Democratic state legislators won’t be able to pass anything without persuading centrist Republicans to join their side. This is never easy to do, and the odds of it happening in the next session dropped dramatically after voters ousted one of the most effective legislative bridge-builders, House Minority Leader Mary Throne of Cheyenne.

Dems need to block Trump’s craziest ideas

On the national front, I’ve hated the obstructionism of U.S. Senate and House Republicans who have labored since before his first inauguration to deny President Barack Obama any legislative victories. These are the same congressional hacks who bragged about drawing up articles of impeachment against Clinton before Trump surprised them by winning.

Now, I can’t wait to see Democratic senators use their filibuster powers to beat back anything Trump or his team tries to ram through Congress. The GOP would have to be shamed into not using the rare so-called “nuclear option” to stop a filibuster. But if Democrats stick together and successfully filibuster,  they can keep the GOP from getting the required super-majority of 60 votes to advance a bill or, significantly, a nomination.

This means Republicans won’t be able to fulfill their promise to repeal “Obamacare,” at least not until they offer a workable alternative. Democrats, I hope, will not allow them to leave 20 million newly-insured people without health care assistance.

Is my view about using all of the tools at the Democrats’ disposal to sink GOP proposals hypocritical? Yes it is. Childish? Some might say so. Foolish? Not on your life!

Trump doesn’t have an actual mandate to do whatever he wants, primarily because Clinton won the popular vote. At least half the country doesn’t support the president-elect, and it’s up to Democrats to keep his insane ideas like deporting millions of Latinos from ever happening.

Trump has only himself to blame, because he put up the roadblocks that are destined to doom his first and only term in office. The night after his victory, thousands of protesters marched against him in major U.S. cities. His inauguration may be the site of the biggest protest this nation has ever seen.

Stay connected — sign up for our free weekly newsletter

The only path he can take to advance any decent ideas his administration might come up with is to say his bombastic rhetoric wasn’t serious — which will result in his supporters eating him alive. Now that’s good reality TV. Many of them are counting on him to make Mexico pay to build a wall across the U.S. southern border and keep his vow to ban Muslims from entering the country. That’s what got him elected — that, far more than his appeal to the people “forgotten” in the current economy.

When he’s impeached or loses his re-election bid, Trump will wish he still had a reality TV show where he could fire anyone at will for any perceived slight to his Trumpness. Whenever or however he’s fired from this new gig, it’s going to be ugly. And even though I was wrong this time, anyone can have a bad day. I just had a huge one. Believe me.

Kerry Drake

Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake has covered Wyoming for more than four decades, previously as a reporter and editor for the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle and Casper Star-Tribune. He lives in Cheyenne and...

Join the Conversation

3 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. There is so much wrong with this opinion piece, it’s impossible to know where to start– especially since I’ve been through the same song and dance with every liberal or progressive Facebook friend of mine, so I’ll boil it down to this:

    People like you are the reason Trump won.

    The GOP-led House and Senate bent over backwards to compromise with the Democrats and give Barack Obama much of what he wanted– the only thing which they managed to wash their hands of by not casting a single vote in favor of was the ACA, one of the most economically burdensome (the damage done to individuals and families by raising premiums, deductibles and out-of-pockets is stunning) and intentionally flawed (it was designed to spiral itself out of control and wind up giving the federal government stronger cause to implement a single-payor form of health care) pieces of legislation to ever grab hold of so massive a percentage of the U.S. economy. The Democrats became masters of crony, corporate socialism during the eight years of Obama’s tenure and anyone who believes the wealthy elite living and working in places like Wall Street have even the slightest blip of a vote-Republican thought are truly aloof.

    Bernie Sanders would have been the man to stand up to and defeat Trump, not Clinton, who practiced none of what she preached by destroying the very foundation under her main primary contender and undermining the democratic cause she champions so two-facedly. Trump won the primary and the general election by winning the hearts and minds of not just Republican voters but disaffected Democrats, independents and those who have never voted before. Hillary couldn’t even get her own base excited, much less anyone outside of it and people voted for her because she had a “D” next to her name, not because they were excited about the prospect of her being president. All of those post-election rage is coming from spoiled, cry-baby liberals who can’t fathom the idea of Donald Trump being president and who have abandoned all of their lofty pre-election rhetoric in favor of delusions like doing away with the electoral college. The only time they praise civic institutions are when they become the beneficiaries– as soon as they lose, all bets seem to be off. The hypocrisy is obvious, people are tired of it and thus we have President Trump.

    Whatever insults Trump has issued are nothing compared to the real damage the Democrat party has done to minority groups– and all in the selfish cause of garnering a vote ever two to four years while doing nothing but keeping those same impoverished people dependent on welfare programs which they then use to cast their political opponents as boogeymen who would take all of that [taxpayer-funded, might I add] money away. It’s despicable and, again, quite obvious to those of us who aren’t caught up in the day-to-day soap opera that writers like you are wrapped up in entirely.

    This doesn’t even touch the hypocrisy where Clinton was concerned by inviting rappers like Jay-Z to bolster her measly campaign crowds. Said “musician” isn’t exactly known for having music that one could consider any other way than what you would call Trump– vulgar, with the expressed endorsement of Hillary Clinton. So, no, that argument against Trump doesn’t wash either. And what of Clinton-as-feminist-warrior destroying the lives of the women who had sex with her husband– affairs which she enabled her husband in committing. What of the millions in dollars she took from middle eastern heads of state who impress Sharia Law upon the women living in their countries, leaving those women in a state of complete and utter submission to a truly patriarchal society. Female SJW, Hillary is most certainly not.

    Liberalism is one of the most bigoted ideologies on the planet– and all of this coming from me, a millennial. If someone so young as I can manage to see such transparently arrogant, duplicitous and foolish grandstanding for what it is, then I can only hope millions of others my age start to see it that way as well. Trump is president in a time where he not only holds the House and Senate but a majority of state governorships and legislatures as well. Not since the 1920s have Republicans –and thus conservatives– been in such a strong position to implement their agenda in opposition to the corruption and havoc which prior administrations have caused (Bush to a strong degree but Obama far more so, especially considering his proper doubling of the national debt from ten to twenty trillion dollars and with absolutely nothing to show for it). I think that prospect is what really scares progressives, liberals and Democrats the most, which is why they have done nothing but freak out on social media, petition the electors and coordinate massive bought-and-paid-for protests as a result post-election.

    Trump isn’t going to impeached by a friendly House and Senate, so give up that happy little dream right now. Elections have consequences and so will the election after this and the election after that and so on and so on. The pendulum has just taken a massive swing back to the right from the far-left swing it took eight years ago.

    Wyoming saw it right more than any other state in the union, as a percentage of voters and life goes on for us all.

  2. Democrats should only become neo-obstructionists if is good for the working class. Republicans obstructed anything Obama. Democrats need to sell why whatever they oppose as being anti working class not just because it’s Trumps idea.

    For the last eight years our legislators here in Wyoming have been blaming our state’s downturn on everything Obama. Who are they going to blame now? Let’s see if they can actually do something constructive. I really have my doubts. They really don’t know how to do anything except make excuses and spin lies about coal and they oil and gas industries. I’m sure higher taxes are on their way. Not on the businesses that are fleeing Wyoming, but on the working class.

    Finally I really feel sorry for Liz Cheney. I’m pretty sure she thought Hillary Clinton was going to win. What is she going to do now? I’m convinced that the only reason she ran is to be on Fox News every night complaining about Clinton. Kind of like the new Michelle Bachmann. We should ask Minnesota how that worked out for them.

    1. It amazes me that left-leaning persons consistently criticize Trump for his “hate” when the vitriol that Democrats have spewed since Trump’s election have been more than I have ever seen in my 70-year life time. Where is all of this hate coming from? How will it affect our country? What does it teach our children? I worry about the widespread hate more than I worry about who is President. How do you justify it?