The year since the 2016 election has been dizzying. But would it have been just as dizzying if Hillary Clinton had won? A year into the scariest experiment the American Experiment has ever experimented with, here’s a glimpse at the alternate timeline that we just barely missed out on.
Nov. 8, 2016: Madam President! The first female president of the United States, Hillary Clinton, wins the popular vote by 3 million votes and ekes out a narrow electoral college victory by winning Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, just like the polls all said! On Etsy, a million “Madam President” onesies go up for sale.
After holing up in Trump Tower refusing to talk to anyone except Ivanka, Donald Trump finally concedes at 2:43 a.m. Later, he tweets, “Conceded dumb election to Crooked Hillary. Rigged! #MAGA #2020″
Nov. 9, 2016: Clinton pledges to work with the Obama administration for a smooth transition. People are not openly weeping in their workplaces. Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile graciously accepts compliments about how well the campaign was handled and praises the Clinton campaign as “a great partner” in rebuilding the DNC.
Nov. 10, 2016: In her first news conference as president-elect, Clinton sparks outrage by suggesting that her husband, former president Bill Clinton, might be of help as a special envoy to North Korea, citing his previous diplomatic success there. “We will not tolerate a whiff of nepotism in the White House!” declares Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). In a biting editorial, the Wall Street Journal imagines Chelsea Clinton as a “special adviser to the president, swanning in and out of the West Wing with no qualifications other than being the president’s daughter.” Fox News cites it on all its programs.
Nov. 22, 2016: In an exclusive interview with the New York Times, Clinton touches on a wide variety of issues. The transcript is widely read, and widely understood.
Dec. 4, 2016: Clinton begins speaking with foreign leaders through State Department channels. She declines to speak to the leader of Taiwan. She doesn’t cite decades of diplomatic tradition because it’s obvious.
Dec. 10, 2016: Clinton selects Joe Biden as her secretary of state, but is criticized for joking that “as Joe would say, it’s a BFD.” On “Fox & Friends,” Steve Doocy criticizes the term as “crass,” saying, “The children are listening.” On Twitter, Donald Trump Jr. posts a photo of his daughter crying and blames Clinton. Ivanka Trump doesn’t retweet it, because she’s busy promoting a new line of trench coats, but one of her staffers “likes” it.
Dec. 16, 2016: President Obama and Clinton announce a joint plan to investigate the Russian interference in the 2016 election. On Russian state TV, President Vladimir Putin wrestles an alligator with its snout taped shut and leaves it at that. CNET reports on a mass deletion of thousands of Twitter accounts, but a Twitter spokesman says the company has noticed nothing out of the ordinary.
Dec. 19, 2016: The electoral college officially votes to elect Clinton president. Three Clinton delegates cast their vote for Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), but as in previous years, the electoral college vote doesn’t merit much attention.
Dec. 30, 2016: In a Pew survey, journalists report feeling healthier, less stressed and better rested since the campaign. “It’s still 24/7, but just, like, a normal 24/7,” says one former embed. “I’m so excited for a healthier 2017!” The Washington Post unveils its new slogan, “Things Are Great!” and the New York Times unveils theirs, “We’re Good, Thanks.”
Jan. 5, 2017: As the Obama administration winds down, many civil servants opt to stay on, particularly in the Foreign Service. After all, the United States needs a fully functioning State Department.
Jan. 10: In a stiff phone call, Clinton invites FBI Director James B. Comey to continue his term. Comey accepts, a little awkwardly. Both feel good about it after. No one hides behind any drapes.
Jan. 18: Makers of pink yarn continue to meet moderate demand.
Jan. 20: Clinton is officially inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. A star-studded lineup performs: Lin-Manuel Miranda composes a special “Hamilton” rap just for the occasion, and Clinton surprises everyone by doing that super-fast part from “Guns and Ships.” Vice President Tim Kaine claps along enthusiastically on the sidelines. A video of Chelsea’s daughter singing along goes viral, and Rush Limbaugh criticizes her for using her young children as political props.
Harvey Weinstein throws an inauguration party in Los Angeles. Everyone goes, including all his friends in the media. If there’s one thing everyone knows about Weinstein, it’s that he throws a good party.
Jan. 21: Millions of women wake up feeling energized and excited. That’s all. It’s more than enough.
Jan. 23: Clinton’s first official act is to nominate Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court. “Some things are worth waiting for,” she jokes. The Judicial Crisis Network spends millions in an ad blitz calling for her to step down. She doesn’t. Garland is confirmed swiftly and without incident, though some commentators grumble that he isn’t liberal enough.
Clinton’s new press secretary, Donna Brazile, hosts her first briefing and answers a question about inauguration crowds: “We had a great turnout. The National Park Service has the estimates. I hope you all had as joyful a time as we did!”
Jan. 25: Donald Trump posts a tweet that invites Clinton to “meet him on Fifth Avenue,” which he quickly deletes, but not before it’s reported by millions of users to Twitter’s safety team. Twitter suspends Trump’s account for a week. In a huff, he quits Twitter.
Jan. 27: Clinton announces an immigration bill offering “an enhanced, expedited pathway to citizenship” and vows to shorten the waiting time for refugee applicants. A bunch of immigration lawyers enjoy their quiet weekend.
Feb. 5: The Patriots beat the Falcons in an exciting Super Bowl finish. No one makes any political analogies.
Feb. 19: Susan Fowler releases a scathing blog post about the sexist working conditions at Uber. On the same day, Clinton tweets, “We must strive for fair, safe workplaces for all Americans.” Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) moves to impeach her for using the power of the presidency to pressure a private corporation.
Feb. 26: “Moonlight” beats “La La Land” in an exciting Oscars finish. No one makes any political analogies.
March 15: Clinton urges Congress to send her a bill affirming and strengthening Obamacare. At the Capitol switchboard, phone lines reflect normal business activities.
March 20: Foreign diplomats come to Washington and check in at many different hotels. They tend not to stay at the Trump International Hotel, citing exorbitant prices, watered-down drinks and being creeped out by the wall-size poster of Ivanka staring down at them.
April 1: It’s a normal day, and no one jokes bitterly while choking back sobs.
April 15: Clinton releases her family’s joint tax return. House Republicans are outraged over declared income from a speech Bill Clinton made in February 2016. An examination of tax records reveals that he had actually donated the income to the Clinton Foundation, but Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Tex.) moves for a special prosecutor to investigate the matter.
April 29: Clinton speaks at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Everyone agrees that Obama was funnier and complains about how hard it is to get into the Vanity Fair party.
May 9: Clinton’s motorcade passes a car carrying Comey in Washington. That’s the most they’ve been in touch for months, which is right and proper.
May 29: At the Group of 7 in Sicily, Clinton reaffirms the U.S. commitment to the Paris Climate Accord and, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, proposes voluntary measures countries may take “to further address the urgent problem of climate change, which is a thing that is real and exists.” Lone holdouts Syria and Nicaragua are persuaded to join.
To celebrate, Clinton, Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hike up to the medieval town of Castelmola, where they take a selfie (Merkel’s first!). It goes viral, sparking a surprise “Presidential Hike” craze. Shortly after, Chelsea Clinton announces a deal to publish a children’s book called “She Hiked! 13 American Women Who Went The Distance.” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) moves to impeach Clinton, alleging that her family is trying to profit off the presidency.
May 31: Shortly after midnight, Clinton tweets the non-word “covfefe.” It remains up without explanation overnight and is deleted in the morning. Infowars host Alex Jones “decodes” all of Clinton’s tweets and “discovers” a hidden message inviting Putin to meet her at a pizza parlor.
July 14: Clinton and Bill meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte, in Paris. Clinton greets Macron and shakes his hand calmly. She does not comment on Brigitte’s appearance.
Aug. 11: In response to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Clinton says: “There is no place for white supremacy in a fair and free America.” On the newly named Fox morning show “Trump & Friends,” Trump decries the president for insulting “some very fine people exercising their First Amendment rights. It’s called the Constitution, Hillary! ” He high-fives Brian Kilmeade.
Aug. 18: Therapists across the country are having a pretty normal day. Business could be better, most of them think.
Sept. 4: Clinton kneels next to Colin Kaepernick during the national anthem at the first National Football League games of the 2017 season, after persuading Daniel Snyder to sign him as the starting quarterback for the newly renamed Washington Resisters. When asked about his change of heart, Snyder cites the election, saying, “I want to win now, and this is the now we’re in, so.”
Sept. 21: Clinton announces an emergency aid package for Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria and dispatches the National Guard to assist with reconstruction.
Sept. 28: Vogue runs a profile of Chelsea Clinton with a charming anecdote about her daughter, Charlotte, selling Girl Scout cookies to staffers at the White House. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) moves to impeach Clinton, alleging that her family is trying to profit off the presidency.
Oct. 30: Trump’s former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, is indicted by the low-profile team of regular career Justice Department prosecutors investigating Russian interference in the election, which most people had basically forgotten about.
Nov. 4: Donna Brazile publishes a book, “Hugs: The Inside Story of How Love and Kindness Put Hillary Clinton in the White House,” with a special forward from Clinton. “Teamwork makes the dream work,” she writes. “We truly are Stronger Together.”