If you keep up with the news, you might think that the unpleasant and unedifying 2016 presidential campaign is still going on.
President Trump, up early, is sending out tweets coarsely attacking foreign leaders and American politicians. Complete with misspelled words, in at least one case to the point of indecipherability.
Hillary Clinton is supervising a busy staff which, after she takes an hour for exercise, fills her in the 60 minutes' latest news developments. A leader of the "resistance" — a term she's embraced — but always be prepared.
Charitably minded observers may excuse both these individuals, neither of whom expected 12 months ago to be in places and positions they are today. And they might add that they're not the only ones continuing to operate in campaign mode.
Rush Limbaugh proclaims that "American voters saved this country as we know it." Or, to be more precise, the 46 percent of American voters responsible for securing 306 electoral votes for Donald Trump did.
Limbaugh is of course right in that Trump's victory has had important policy consequences, from the appointment of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the renunciation of the unenforceable strictures of the Paris climate agreement. More, although probably not as many as most Trump voters would like, are in store.
But America has rebounded from policy mistakes before, and you can make your own list of them. Every election has policy consequences, some of them pretty serious and many unpredictable. The country has evolved, changed, grown enormously, but much of its character remains recognizable in the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville, who interviewed the rival Presidents John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson 180-some years ago.
On the other side, 43 percent of respondents to a Politico/Morning Consult poll want Congress to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump. Over half of them — 23 percent of the total population — think he "has proven he is unfit to serve and should be removed from office, regardless of whether he committed an impeachable offense or not."
So to heck with the Constitution and its nitpicking requirement that officials be removed from office only for "treason, bribery or other high crimes or misdemeanors." These folks want a re-vote, right now. For them, the campaign is still on. As it may still be for the next 17 months, if in 2018 Democratic House candidates make impeachment a main plank of their platforms.
Amid the continuing campaign chatter, let's step back and ponder how current events will be regarded in the longer run of history.
Trump's capture of 70 previously Democratic electoral votes in the Midwest and Pennsylvania owes much to his distinctive stands on immigration and trade, even though the problems he cited were of declining importance. Illegal immigration across the Mexican border fell off sharply in 2007, and the reduction in American jobs due to Chinese imports probably crested several years before that.
That positions him as president to claim credit for trends which are ongoing, but which his policies might arguably be accelerating. Illegal border crossings have dropped precipitously in the first months of this year, probably in response to Trump's strengthened enforcement of existing laws. Manufacturing jobs may be rising too, as rising Chinese wages make their goods less competitive here.
On foreign policy, Trump has abandoned former President Barack Obama's tilt to Iran (with a secret back-channel dating back to the 2008 campaign) and stitched together an informal anti-Iran coalition in the Middle East. He may have persuaded China to exert some discipline over North Korea, and has accelerated the longstanding missile defense program, derided for years by Democrats, to protect America from any Kim Jong Un nukes.
As for Europe, Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel traded press conference and Twitter insults, to both leaders' political benefit. Merkel is strengthened for her Sept. 24 election and Trump can claim to have spurred Europeans to take more responsibility for their own defense.
This is starting to look like a more conventional Republican foreign policy than campaign rhetoric suggested. Congressional Democrats seem to have stalled in their efforts to find some Team Trump "collusion" with Russia that would justify the impeachment proceedings their party's base expects and lusts for. Perhaps because an investigation could show that the Obama administration surveilled and criminally "unmasked" U.S. persons for political reasons.
I'm happy to join those urging Trump (and Clinton) to stop acting like candidates. But maybe the rest of us should take a deep breath and stop acting like the campaign's still on.