We keep fighting the 2016 election because no one wants to stop. Not even James Comey, who has succeeded in annoying just about everyone in the country while somehow retaining his job. Comey was also on television this week, telling Congress that the thought he might have influenced the election makes him nauseous, that he felt compelled to announce he was reopening the investigation into Clinton’s emails because of the optics of Loretta Lynch’s tarmac summit with Bill Clinton, that Huma was forwarding classified emails to Anthony Weiner’s computer, and the investigation into Russia’s interference in the election and possible ties to Trump aides is ongoing but sorry he can’t say anything more. If the 2016 result is a wound on the American body politic, then James Comey is happy pouring salt on it: He refuses to answer questions, and continually raises others, when what we need are answers, closure.
If Clinton, Trump, Comey, and Congress won’t move on from last November, who will? Not the media, which have been driven to new heights of sensationalism and hysteria and snark and vulgarity. And not the political parties, either. One of them is leaderless, divided, focused only on stopping the president. The other is the Democrats. (I kid, I kid.)
Better to dwell on the past than look to the future. Reading the entrails of 2016, arguing over campaign strategy and tactics, and spinning conspiracy theories is a far more pleasant, more comforting activity for the parties than facing reality. And there are many parties. We have not two but three of them: the GOP, the Democrats, and Trump. Though global politics may be increasingly defined by nationalism and identity, the Republican Party in Congress is as committed to the Reagan agenda as ever: limited government, deregulation, tax cuts, defense spending, and internationalist foreign policy. But that might not be enough to maintain the allegiance of their new base of working-class populists; the Republicans could well lose the Congress in 2018. The Democrats are just as addled, trying to ride the wave of hostility to Trump to victory, even if they aren’t sure what they’d do with it. As for the president, suffice it to say he has yet to acclimate to Washington, yet to submit to the norms of political life. Washington, meanwhile, is trying to figure out “How Trump could get fired.”