Presidential elections come and go, and lingering hard feelings among those whose candidate lost are nothing new. But the sentiment among enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporters (and maybe even more so among those who reluctantly supported her) that the apocalypse will commence at approximately 12 p.m. tomorrow when Donald Trump takes the oath of office is on a whole other level. We should know. Maryland — which voted more heavily for Hillary than virtually any other state; where even the Republican governor dives underground like a prairie dog faced with a coyote whenever Mr. Trump's name comes up; the state out of which the literal swamp that is now Washington, D.C., was carved; a place where the male-female ratio during the Women's March On Washington will skyrocket to rival that of a 19th century penal colony — may be ground zero for Trump-end-times terror.
We would like to take this opportunity to reassure those sufferers of the blue state blues that everything is going to be OK. That we've been through divisive elections before (George W. Bush post-Florida recount comes to mind) and the Republic has marched on. That, as President Barack Obama put it, the presidency has a way of "waking you up" and that "reality has a way of asserting itself."
We would like to offer those reassurances, but in all good conscience, we can't. Donald Trump is not like anyone we've elected president in modern times — not in experience, not in temperament, not in style or philosophy. He believes the word of a foreign autocrat of dubious intent over the conclusions of the American intelligence community. He maintains a sprawling business empire with global reach and ignores warnings from both parties about the potential for massive conflicts and abuse. He brings into the West Wing a senior adviser whose previous job was in providing a welcoming online platform for white nationalists, anti-Semites, Islamophobes and xenophobes. He lashes out at the slightest provocation and exhibits no caution about his public statements. If a stray utterance (or in Mr. Trump's case, tweet) causes the stock of a major corporation to tank, a normal president-elect would think, "Boy, I need to watch myself." Mr. Trump thinks, "Boy, I'm powerful."
We realize, of course, that millions of Americans (if a record-low percentage, by the reckoning of the polls) are hopeful at the dawn of the Trump presidency. He tapped into the very real anxiety of those who feel left behind economically and culturally in a rapidly changing world in a way that Ms. Clinton clearly did not. We did not find his proposed remedies remotely convincing, but others did — or at least figured they had nothing to lose by trying something radically different. We hope they're right.
But we rather doubt it, in part for the same reason we offer at least a shred of hope for those who greet today's inauguration with dread. Simply put, if this transition is any indication, Mr. Trump and his administration may be too disorganized and divisive to accomplish much, even with Republicans in control of both houses of Congress.
It has become clear during the confirmation hearings for Mr. Trump's cabinet secretaries that there are no clear marching orders for his administration when it comes to major policy issues and that they may not be equipped to accomplish much even if they get some. Mr. Trump's nominee for defense secretary said Russia "is raising grave concerns on several fronts," advocated for keeping the Iran nuclear deal and contradicted his boss on the wisdom of waterboarding. His nominee for secretary of state stood up for free trade deals, said America's commitment to NATO is "inviolable" and opposed a ban on Muslim immigrants. His EPA nominee said climate change "is not a hoax." Meanwhile, Mr. Trump's nominee for education secretary stumbled over basic terms in education policy, and he chose as energy secretary someone who once famously forgot that it was one of the agencies he wanted to abolish.
Meanwhile, any fear (or hope, as the case may be) that Mr. Trump and the GOP Congress would swiftly coalesce around a hard-line conservative agenda is looking unrealistic. Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act immediately, but there is no consensus whatsoever on what to do next, and Mr. Trump flatly contradicted party orthodoxy on the issue by promising a plan in which all Americans would have insurance coverage — something none of the Republican health reform proposals on Capitol Hill even contemplate. Will congressional Republicans fall in line behind Mr. Trump? Not if he keeps throwing them under the bus, as he did by Twitter-shaming them over the attempt to abolish the Office of Congressional Ethics.
And failing that, the midterm elections are only 16 months away. A lot can change in that time; America's political landscape has a tendency to lurch in ways that few would predict. Remember when President Obama had a supermajority in the Senate and control of the House? That sure didn't last long, and he started out in a much stronger position than Mr. Trump has now.
So buck up, blue staters. The next four years might not be as bad as you think.