Thoughts on the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, and the path ahead

So it’s a little over half a day since the election results became final. President Barack Obama spoke about the election results earlier today (he gave an incredibly gracious and above-board speech about a president-elect committed to destroying his legacy), and Hillary Clinton also gave her concession speech (which I did finally watch in its entirety, as difficult as that was).

I didn’t even mention in the previous posts that President-elect Trump never released his tax returns. That was an important “highlight” I left out, along with some things like the “7-11” gaffe. Then again, what I did mention pretty much stands on its own. The only thing left to do now is hope that Mr. Trump is a better president than candidate. The entirety of his campaign left a lot to be desired. Mr. Trump’s campaign, from the beginning, seemed more like a joke campaign than an earnest campaign for president.

As I’ve said elsewhere (and which I’ll probably repeat), the White House is not the set of the next season of The Apprentice or some other reality TV show, this whole president thing is reality and reality is way different than a reality TV show. Reality television is more television than reality, and perhaps can be more accurately called reality-flavored television. The reality “flavoring” of reality TV can be compared to that artificial barbecue or sour cream and onion flavoring on potato chips. Those flavorings rarely, if ever, taste like actual barbecue or sour cream and onion; in much the same way, reality TV rarely if ever reflects the actual reality of what happened, especially when “creative editing” comes into play. It resembles reality just enough that some people mistake it for that.

We have a little over two months left before President Obama’s term officially ends. If Mr. Trump really intends to be a “president for all Americans” as he said in his victory speech, I certainly hope that he realizes just what Obama’s legacy means to all of us who voted for him, and to many of us who voted for Hillary Clinton in the hope that legacy would continue be honored.

I don’t know how many readers I have left from the early days, but you’ll notice I do tend to lean left on most issues. (If you’re just now finding this blog, I do keep the archives up for a reason.) The inauguration of Donald Trump as our 45th President on 2017 January 20 will also begin a new era for Rant Roulette, as it will be the first day this blog has existed in its current form under a Republican president. (There was a brief period for the first two months of this blog, before I settled into to the current format, where George W. Bush was still the sitting president prior to the inauguration of Barack Obama.)

This is not unlike the situation faced by, say, Rush Limbaugh after the inauguration of Bill Clinton. Far from being the end of Mr. Limbaugh’s infamous radio show, it was a new beginning (he was even on TV for a while). In the same vein, some may have thought, somewhat naïvely, that this is the end of Rant Roulette. Rest assured this is most definitely not the end of Rant Roulette, in fact in all likelihood it’s going to be a new beginning. Whether President-elect Trump fulfills his campaign slogan and truly “make[s] America great again” remains to be seen. But certainly, it’s going to be my goal over the next four years to make Rant Roulette worth reading again, and I will definitely have a lot more to write about come next January. I compare the election of Donald Trump to being handed a bucketful of lemons; there’s plenty of lemonade to be made in the years ahead.

Thoughts on the Houston and Harris County elections

I’m going to take a break from talking about the presidential election and shift to the local elections here in Harris County and Houston.

First up, I may as well talk about the local election that gathered national attention: Devon Anderson, the Republican incumbent district attorney, who was challenged by Kim Ogg, running as the Democratic candidate in a rematch of the 2012 election. This time, however, it would be Kim Ogg emerging the victor in a relatively close race (54% of the vote). The controversy surrounding Anderson’s jailing of a rape victim to compel her testimony is believed to be a major reason behind her defeat; Anderson’s attacks on Ogg, including one on the latter’s sexuality, almost certainly didn’t help.

Second, we have the even closer race for sheriff of Harris County. Ron Hickman was originally elected to Precinct 4 Constable as a Republican. Hickman was appointed to sheriff when Adrian Garcia resigned to run for mayor of Houston (a race which Garcia lost to Sylvester Turner). Hickman’s challenger was Ed Gonzalez, who ran as a Democrat. Gonzalez’s strategy of highlighting Hickman’s failures as sheriff paid off and he won with 52% of the vote.

Next, there was an election I did not vote in, but I am nevertheless happy at the result. Over a century ago, Houston Heights was actually a separate city, which had elected not to allow stores to sell beer and wine. That ban remained in place even as Houston annexed the area. However, after this election it’s history, and HEB quickly announced they would move forward with plans to build a new store on the former site of Fiesta on North Shepherd at 24th Street.

There was also the resounding defeat of HISD Proposition 1. The ballot language was confusing on this one, and I have to wonder if it was on purpose. How would you vote on something like this?

Authorizing the board of trustees of Houston Independent School District to purchase attendance credits from the state with local tax revenues

What this actually meant was “authorize Houston ISD to send $162 million to the state of Texas when it can barely afford to run its own schools”. This “attendance credits” nonsense is just verbiage to confuse the voters; thankfully they didn’t fall for it. A resounding majority (60%) voted against, and I’m proud to be one of them. The logic behind voting against is that it’s the only hope to get some reform for our school finance system here in Texas. And it needs reform. It’s outrageous that Houston ISD, which has so many students in families under the poverty line and which can scarcely afford to finance its own schools, is somehow viewed as a “rich” district under the law and expected to send an obscene amount of money to other Texas counties. I’m glad this proposition did not pass and I hope some good becomes of it.

Last but certainly not least, the race for Precinct 1 Constable. Another rematch from 2012: Alan Rosen was seeking re-election as the Democratic candidate, with Joe Danna running once again as a Republican. This time, there were no other candidates, which seemed to play to the favor of Rosen, who slayed it with 65% of the vote. (Back in 2012 Rosen won with just under 59% of the vote, with just under 6% combined going to candidates affiliated with the Libertarian and Green parties, leaving just under 36% for Danna.)

Whether Joe Danna gets the hint this time remains to be seen. His candidacy never really ended after the 2012 election, with a lot of the campaign signs staying up even after the 2012 election was over. Mr. Danna had a bit of a disadvantage this time, too: the “we don’t need a volunteer” card wasn’t in play since Alan Rosen had now been working a paid position for the past four years. Whether the voters remembered that from 2012, or were just happy with the status quo, the result is the same.

(As an aside, it was a pretty good night for law enforcement positions county-wide with not only the aforementioned sheriff spot, but also five of the eight constable positions, won by Democrats. The Precinct 7 Constable position was unopposed.)

The worst election night I have ever lived through

I’m going to summarize the last five to six hours or so. Basically, the TV has been tuned to KHOU-TV (channel 11 in Houston, our local CBS affiliate) watching the CBS News coverage of the election. Next to the TV, I have the laptop with IRC open and chatting with some people who happened to be talking about the election, with the web browser open to check results of the local elections (I’ll get to those tomorrow). I have watched as Donald Trump has inched closer and closer to the 270 electoral votes required to win the presidency. CBS News has shown both the Trump and Clinton campaigns’ election watch parties. I get why the people at the Clinton watch party are downright crestfallen; some were even crying.

I’m more angry than sad right now. There is still a very faint glimmer of hope remaining that enough of the last few states will turn blue on the map and Hillary Clinton will be our next president. As I write this, the electoral vote tally is 244 to 215 in favor of Trump. The reporters are all talking about how he pulled this off, the campaign stops Hillary Clinton didn’t make, the voters Donald Trump attracted, yada yada yada.

They also brought up that it’s been rare that the same party wins three presidential elections in a row. That may be true, but we’ve never had a candidate this unqualified and who has behaved this badly and this erratically throughout the campaign. That terrifies me. It terrified me this morning before I voted, and it terrifies me now that I’m back home watching the election coverage.

I’m not calling it either way right now. I’m hoping something changes big time before CBS News signs off for the night. I’ll be back on tomorrow night with some final national election thoughts after I discuss the local elections.