Prediction is risky, and dangerous to one's reputation. The most likely, and the safest prediction, is to begin with the present, and project more of the same.

 
That's what is evident in the land across the sea. 
 
Analysts used to say that the Obama administration was the nastiest in terms of inter-party conflict.
 
Now we should expect more of the same, and most likely even more intense.
 
Hillary is still leading in most of the polls, and in calculations about results in the Electoral College. However, the numerous last minute polls are hard to summarize. Some analysts see a possibility that Donald will win either the popular vote or the electoral vote, or that Hillary will squeak through via her strength in states with the most electoral votes.
 
Those impressed with the concept of momentum may be inching toward a prediction of a Trump victory, yet there are signs of Hillary's recovery from the beating she took from the FBI..


There is still a high incidence of undecided. Some who have voted are inclined to change their vote, but the mechanics of that may be difficult. And who knows the incidence of Trump voters ashamed to tell pollsters their intentions.
 
A lack of fit between popular and electoral votes will not be unique. It's happened before, most recently in 2000. 
 
Should it favor Hillary, it'll bring forth Trump charges of a rigged election, and pondering about how that may play in the intensity of post-election meanness. 
 
Trump has been accused of raping a 13-year old. 
 
The accusation  has not made a great splash. The accuser has declined to make a public declaration under a claim of being threatened. The item joins with the claims about Trump links to Vladimir Putin via mutual interests in Ukraine and several stories about Hillary and the Clinton Foundation.
 
All told, it's more than the usual nastiness. It's at least in the league with assertions that Barack Obama was not born in the US, or that Bill Clinton was besotted with women other than his wife.
 
We'll see how these accusations spin off to formal investigations after the election.
 
Inquiries will take time. They may bring the US to resemble Israel, having a sitting president resigned and eventually serving a jail sentence for rape. To the credit of Israel, however, our president was not accused of raping a child.
 
The closeness will invite post election conflict over recounts. We may see if the acceptance of the rules that prevailed in the 2000 dispute over Florida or about Illinois in 1960 will prevail after the tensions of this campaign and Donald's repeated charges of it being rigged.
 
A Clinton White House and a Republican House of Representatives will invite four years of investigations. Committees will be at her and  the Clinton Foundation. We'll hear more about emails, contributions, and Benghazi.
 
A Trump White House and a Democratic Senate will see a different kind of nastiness, most likely focused on long inquiries into nominations for Cabinet, Court, and other major appointees. Approvals may never come for those who prove to be controversial, and depending on the temper of Senators, that could be many of them.
 
The further out we go the riskier are predictions. At this point, the big picture seems likely to be stymied government, with a division of parties controlling the White House-Senate-House of Representatives, and each party working to embarrass and thwart the other. Opposition control of either House or Senate would be enough to create a veto over the White House on the budget and key domestic issues..
 
Established programs should continue to work, most of the time. Yet budget stand-offs may create periodic closures of government offices due to insufficient funds to keep them open.
 
International politics will be different, insofar as the President is more independent. However, he/she still needs Secretaries of State and Defense, a Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and replacements for other senior military and security personnel as they leave. Money is also important, which brings back the expectation of budget impasses. 
 
All told it might make the Framers happy. Checks and balances will continue, perhaps to the exaggerated and unwanted extent of frozen mechanisms and frustrations on the right and left.
 
Libertarians will be celebrating. They will not have elected their candidate, and they may not get significant shrinkage in government, but there is not likely to be much that is new.
 
Will the tensions and governmental standoff remain until the election of 2020?
 
And what'll happen then?
 
The question to be asked is, Will one or both parties draw an appropriate lesson from this year's brawl, and nominate a candidate free of taints that have marked Hillary, with more political and governmental experience than Donald, and without his tendency to spew accusations over substance.
 
The fate of American politics may not lie with the parties. They have never had the organizational strength and member discipline that marks the major parties of Europe and Israel. Americans' obsession with individual freedom, as expressed in party primaries open to all, has evolved into the circus experienced this year. 
 
Whether party leaders in Congress and the states can bring themselves together in ways to keep the Donalds and the Hillarys out of the next election is a question we cannot answer at the present time, but it requires a level optimism not in keeping with realities.
 
The US has passed beyond the time when "smoked filled rooms" at party conventions screened candidates and brought about something close to a consensus. Now we'll see if the negative image of smoked filled rooms is greater or less than this "nose holding" election, where most voters of both parties have miserable feelings about their candidate.
 
Comments welcome, on to and beyond 2020.


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-- 
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

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