Hey, look, I wrote up some thoughts about Trump’s election

November 11, 2016 – 5:44 pm by John
  • I focus a lot—maybe a little too much—on people's visceral, gut reactions to various things. I just think it's a good gauge of what their principles and priorities are. Well, my gut reaction to seeing Hillary Clinton's lead diminish on Tuesday night and Trump win Ohio, then North Carolina, then Wisconsin, then Florida, and seeing fivethirtyeight.com increase Trump's odds of winning go up and up and up, made me very nervous, sad, and worried. I checked fivethirtyeight before going to bed, which was a bad idea because it got me all worked up and my heart running much too fast for bedtime, and my two hard classes are on Wednesdays, and I knew I needed any extra sleep I could get with how much sleep deprivation this semester is giving me as it is. But I'm an idiot, so I did it anyway, and I woke up at 2:30 in the morning nervous about it again, so I couldn't just not check the news on my phone, and it was even worse, so I couldn't get to sleep till 4 or 4:30. It was a big mistake.

    Look, I've been following politics since the early-mid 1990's. I've despised Hillary Clinton for two decades, both as a human (or robot, or lizard, or whatever she is) and for her policies, as well as the authoritarian strain of politics that she represents in this country. But I still wanted her to win. (More specifically, I wanted Donald Trump to lose. The Democrats fielded no good presidential candidates this year.) But, as P.J. O'Rourke quipped on NPR (a comment I happened to hear live), "She's wrong about absolutely everything, but she's wrong within normal parameters."

  • I think the fact that Hillary Clinton is within "normal parameters" is exactly what turned so many voters away from her and towards the protest candidate, the outsider candidate, the tear-down-the-whole-system candidate. If Greenwald, Chris Arnade, and Wes Alwan are to be believed, the constancy of our politico-economic system and its beneficiaries, and the inability of poor Americans in flyover states to do much about it, are exactly what those voters rebelled against. The fact that Hillary Clinton is very much a part of that system and would manage it more efficiently and competently than anyone else in this election cycle is exactly why so many voters rejected her.
  • You want a perfect concrete example of the types of cultural tendencies that Trump voters rebelled against? Yale Economics professor makes midterm optional to accommodate students who were too distressed by Trump's victory to take it on schedule. Poor rural Trump supporters might not be exposed to the daily patheticness that is left-wing Twitter and Tumblr, but they do listen to the radio, which is where I heard about this story. Do you know what they'll think when they hear this story? Coddled, rich, east-coast students at an Ivy League university, supposedly the home of the best and brightest, and therefore one of the hardest universities to succeed in, don't have to take a test because they're upset, distracted, tired, or whatever. What are they going to get after their four years of coddling at Yale? A well-paid, cushy job in a nice air-conditioned office in a big city and a nice home and expensive car and expensive daycare and private schools for their children, who will grow up with the same advantages. And what do the poor rural Trump supporters get when they complain about things? Insulted, vilified, and ignored.

    (Importantly, I want to note that Snopes is wrong to brush off claims of coddled students and delayed exams as "mostly false" and "normal amendments to any syllabus". The "mostly false" applied to canceled exams, which isn't the version of the story I heard. The report I heard of making a midterm optional is 100% accurate. And making an exam optional for an entire class for something like an election result is absolutely not remotely normal. Snopes knows it's completely abnormal, which makes them liars. I've been in school many years—far too many—and taken many tests at multiple sub-Ivy League institutions, and no one ever postponed or made optional any graded work of any kind for any non-personal event short of 9/11 (which pushed back my first Organic Chemistry test). Snopes goes into further apologizing mode by noting that the exam was made optional to everyone in the class, not just devastated Clinton supporters, and largely because of sleep deprivation, not sadness or anxiety. First, of course such an option would have to be made available to everyone in the class if the cause of the anguish was not specific or personal (e.g., a death in the family or a sickness). Second, it doesn't matter whether the exam was made optional due to inability to cope with emotions or due to fatigue; this type of coddling—and it is coddling—is exactly what pisses poor rural Americans off and makes them resent the coastal elites who will soon be making decisions in New York and Washington that affect them and who will tell them they're ignorant racist bigots for complaining about it. (Especially Economics majors, of all majors.) I'm disappointed in Snopes for going to such lengths and doing such mental gymnastics to dismiss this story as mostly false, when it is both true and enraging.)

  • If I had the time to write more or the desire to participate in social media more, I might have shared a worry that I had over the last few months. I should have anyway. I worried about the possibility of a sort of reverse Bradley effect skewing the polls inaccurately in favor of Hillary Clinton. The Bradley effect refers to Tom Bradley, a black politician who lost the 1982 California governor's race after all the polls predicted he'd win. The accepted explanation for why the polls were wrong is social desirability bias: people wanted to avoid being labeled racist, so they said they'd vote for Bradley even though they weren't planning to (and even though polls are anonymous, obviously). They just wanted to feel good when answering the pollster, or wanted the pollster (and the millions who would see their answers in the poll data) to see how racially tolerant they were. I worried that the opposite, or maybe complement, of that would happen with Trump: people wouldn't admit to supporting Trump even anonymously on the phone, though they were planning to vote for him, so Trump's support was biased downward. I hypothesize that this is the main reason Trump pulled off his surprise victory.
  • It's so tiring to hear people rail against the electoral college and even sign petitions to eliminate it. I don't know whether they don't understand its purpose or simply don't care, but I don't care to find out. It's a stupid position to take, and my life couldn't possibly be made better by trying to convince them it serves a good purpose, and they beclown themselves every time they opine that we ought to get rid of it. Let them, I don't care. It's not going away any time soon. (And if it goes, the republic as we know it is long gone anyway.)
  • The specific policy matter whose future I'm most worried about is criminal justice reform. I don't know, a lot of it can and should happen at the city, county, and state level, but the DEA and its War on Drugs are federal, as is our deplorable carceral state, and I don't see that improving one iota under Trump.
  • Twitter gadflies like ClarkHat and BrowningMachine often offer lefties the option of secession and dissolution of the union into four or five separate but friendly countries. Obviously their interlocutors have found the idea revolting. Now a lot of them sound like they'd like to secede or separate themselves from the red/flyover states somehow. When Texans and Idahoans want to do it, they say, "Let them secede? Hell no!" But now it's, "Wait, they elected Trump? Can we secede now?" Related but slightly different is the progressives' attitude that seems to say, "They should have to stay, but we should always win so we can force our progressive way of life on them. Wait, they voted for a deplorable president, how dare they! They make me sick!" Yeah, when you shut down all possibility of secession (or even very much federalism), you have to live with election results that they help decide. They'd love to be free of you, but as you so often remind them, you will make that impossible.
  • The presidency shouldn't be this important. The types of people who push for centralization of governmental functions, concentration of power, elevating the status of the executive, and putting every possible thing under the purview of government are the types of people who never expect to be out of power, and certainly never expect a maniacal proto-fascist to take over the apparatus of power they've spent decades expanding and entrenching into every facet of our lives. If the various levels of our federal system of government had the importance that they originally had (which I wish they had), then it would hardly matter who was president. It wouldn't be so devastating when a terrible candidate gets elected. In fact, very few terrible people would want the job.

    This tweet (and its follow-ups) is my overall takeaway or go-to message regarding this entire election season, especially its outcome, and especially for people who are devastated by Trump's victory:

  • Another creation of the left, especially the progressive left, far left, and Marxist left, that has backfired this year is identity politics. Trump's voters and the general alt-right have embraced and harnessed identity politics, riding it all the way to electoral domination (and presumably control of all three branches of the central government, soon). Nice going, fucking cultural Marxists. I guess you did convince a ton of people to act in their perceived interests of their race.
  • This tweet from Seth MacFarlane is 100% right:

  • Some supporters of globalism/free trade/creative destruction/etc., including myself, have criticized Trumpistas for voting against their economic best interest. Erecting tariffs and other job-protecting barriers might give them the old types of jobs that they're used to, but it won't make those communities and families richer in the long run. Stuff will simply cost more, and their children and grandchildren will grow up poorer in real terms, due to lower purchasing power of each dollar, assuming the trade barriers stay in place. Well, they probably wouldn't care, because they'd rather have a meaningful role in society—earning a living, belonging to a union, making things—and would gladly sacrifice quite a bit of purchasing power for that. I don't know what a good answer to their situation is, but I do know that people who are sympathetic to non-white poor people's economic frustrations are hypocritical to dismiss those of whites. Even left-leaning economists know this: politico-economic policies that stress equality of outcomes, or even some significant amount of wealth redistribution and assistance for people who have felt hard times, don't maximize economic growth, GDP, employment, purchasing power, or any other total measure of economic well-being. So if you're going to support heavy taxation, a welfare state, union-supporting laws, affirmative action, and myriad other labor laws, social programs, and even some environmental laws, because you think their outcomes are worth the economic losses they cause, then you're being hypocritical to ridicule poor rural whites who vote for a populist who promises to revitalize their industries and bring their jobs back, because you say it'll "hurt the economy".
  • Donald Trump isn't conservative, doesn't believe in limited government, doesn't respect the Constitution, and won't appoint strict-constructionist judges. This would have been a far, far better anti-Trump message than "You're all a bunch of sexist, racist, xenophobic bigots!" Millions of people voted for Trump only reluctantly. I'm sure much more reluctantly than they voted for McCain or Romney (or Obama, as it turns out). If somehow the relatively principled conservative masses had been convinced of those facts about Donald Trump, then I bet many in the heartland wouldn't have voted for him. Unfortunately, the last people on Earth who are in a position to levy those criticisms against anyone are the Democrats.
  • Other than the intense, humbling schadenfreude that the mainstream media and its supporters will experience, the thing I'm looking forward to the most about a Trump presidency is how profoundly he will disappoint his supporters. He absolutely will not make their lives better, certainly not in the long run, and I expect him to be very ineffective at realizing much of his vision or delivering on many of his promises. I think he'll be an ineffective negotiator and compromiser. I don't think he'll be good at making deals at all, despite the title of his book.
  • I waver between thinking Trump will be effective and ineffective in his dealings with Congress. On the one hand, he throws tantrums and flies off at the mouth when he doesn't get his way, and again, he doesn't strike me as a good compromiser or dealmaker. So I could envision him spending more time tweeting or speaking about how the "establishment" Republicans and Democrats won't let him do what he was elected to do than he'll spend hammering out details and making compromises or improving plans and proposals. On the other hand, Republicans are at their worst when they're in power. They're always scared to death of electoral backlash from cutting any programs, any benefits, or any spending (though not taxes, to their credit). They're scared of being demonized as evil, old, white, stingy men who won't distribute wealth as kindly as Democrats. Or else they just don't believe in limited government. Either way, this is why they aren't the party of small government and why I'm continually repulsed by them. So their spinelessness will probably translate into not standing up to Trump much of the time.

    I do have one semi-specific prediction: They won't do anything about Obamacare or they'll replace it with something equally bad. As above, they're scared of being demonized for the rest of history for "taking away" people's "health care" and will never be the ones to do it. Not understanding—or not wanting to explain to voters—that when you put out a fire, you don't replace it with anything, they'll feel obligated to replace it with something, and since they're incompetent, it will be awful.

  • Despite some jobs reports and whatnot, I don't get the impression that our economy is doing all that great, and I think we're bound for a recession pretty soon. I don't think Donald Trump or the Republican Congress can handle that very well.
  • If only the Libertarian Party had nominated a more competent, appealing candidate, then s/he might have taken a lot more votes away from Donald Trump, possibly from those aforementioned reluctant GOP voters who believe in small government and the Constitution, though who knows whether they would have been in the right areas.
  • It honestly is kind of embarrassing having elected Donald Trump as our president. No: it's extremely embarrassing. Plenty of billionaire/businessman/celebrity types wouldn't be (Ronald Reagan comes to mind), but he is. He is, quite truly, temperamentally unfit to be the president of the United States and leader of the free world. You know why the backlash is so particularly strong with his election? Because he isn't a decent person. I'm quite sure the hysteria and devastation wouldn't have been nearly this extreme if McCain or Romney had been elected, and it surely wasn't with George W. Bush. It's not just his policies, though they are certainly presented more...hatefully and unprofessionally than other Republicans'. He is not presidential or respectable. Not magnanimous or gracious. He isn't decent. Of course, that's part of his appeal to a significant subset of his supporters, which is part of what makes him the wrong answer to the right problem. One silver lining of this fact is that he might be ineffective at dealing with other world leaders, because they won't respect him or take him seriously.
  • I've heard people say that among Trump's many bigotries is dismissal or even antagonism toward LGBTQ people, but I have to admit I haven't read or heard any of that. Is there really evidence of that? As strong as the evidence of his antagonism of women and foreigners (especially Arabs and Latinos)? I'll go on record as saying he'll be more or less fine vis-à-vis LGBTQ people.
  • If there's one silver lining, at least Trump the candidate was much less warmongering and intervention-prone than Clinton was. I don't know if he meant half of what he said, and his despicable proposal to deliberately kill family members of (suspected) terrorists and his seeming casualness about nuclear weapons don't bode well. But part of his populism is opposing the military-industrial complex, so he might not intervene in foreign conflicts as Hillary would have.
  • If celebrities had the choice of shutting up about politics and winning vs. running their mouths but losing, then I think a lot of them would still choose the latter. They can't help themselves. They can't imagine that people wouldn't value their opinion. They don't know (and if they did know, they wouldn't care) that it is exactly their elite status that makes people rebel against what their ilk are always telling people to do.
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