My God. They’ve got a madman on their hands.
Fans of the movie The Hunt for Red October will recognize the harrowing line uttered by a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he realized that a renegade Soviet submarine commander had stolen a new, silent Russian submarine on its maiden mission. Its revolutionary silent propulsion system was designed to slip through American naval defenses with the capability to launch a sudden nuclear attack on the United States.
As it turns out, the captain of the sub wanted to defect and deliver the ship into American hands to equal the playing field. To get complete command of the vessel and its nuclear capability, the captain had murdered the Communist party apparatchik with whom he shared the code to the ship’s missiles.
No one is suggesting that Donald J. Trump should be murdered. But like Sean Connery in October, Trump will have, in fact, the sole power to launch a nuclear strike after Jan. 20. Be careful what you wish for, Vladimir Putin. You got what you wanted.
And so did the American people: Donald J. Trump is going to be sworn in as the 45th President of the United States in less than three months’ time.
How we got here is not as important as what happens next. Truly, Hillary Clinton was a very flawed candidate and the Democratic Party has the opportunity now to remake itself outside the Clintons’ shadows. But we will soon miss her competence, experience and intelligence – the three mainstays of the Presidency that Trump lacks.
It is laughable now that we were worried that Sarah Palin would have been a heartbeat away from the Oval Office had John McCain won. And we 16 years ago also were petrified about George W. Bush taking office. And we were right. His lack of competence, intelligence and experience proved horrifically bad.
But we might have not seen anything yet.
We have arrived at a singularly dangerous moment in human history. It could well be that Trump never wakes up one morning and plunges the country into a nuclear war or a constitutional crisis. But his election does mean that other dangers will fester. For one, the great, silent danger of global climate change will almost surely now accelerate. It is the secret propulsion system that will take humanity eventually to the brink.
For the immediate future, an unwise Supreme Court will abet those in the voting minority who want to take the country back 100 years. We in the voting majority who won the popular vote must suffer the hope that a Republican Congress will counterbalance Trump. It is a faint hope. House Speaker Paul Ryan has the opportunity to be the patriot he says he is.
But I doubt the voting minority that elected Trump will let him.
If he does his duty to protect the country from Trump, Ryan will have to sacrifice his political career. Faint hope. So this does not bode well, and it is not hyperbolic to consider the possibility of real civic strife. This is no movie.
The results of the election sadden me because the sons and daughters and the grandsons and granddaughters of the voters who pushed Trump into office well could rue Nov. 8, 2016, the day the country elected someone who might be the madman the founders feared.
At the end of October, Sean Connery eases his submarine into the safety of a harbor on the Maine coast, averting disaster.
We can only long this ship America finds a similar haven.
Jesús (Jesse) Treviño is the former editorial page editor of The Austin American-Statesman.