The Lessons To Be Learned from This Election – 11/09/16


First, a disconsolate victory lap for the predictions I got right. I believed Trump would take Florida, and he did. I believed he could win the election, although as election night neared I decided he would not. So, I ultimately was swayed by the polls and my general sense of his awfulness as a candidate. So I was mostly wrong, but at least I foresaw the possibility that he would win.

I warned a few very cocky liberals and Democrats at the Plum Line to be careful what they wish for. During the Republican primary, they were talking about crossing party lines, even temporarily registering as Republicans to vote for Trump. They were excited about the possibility of Trump being the nominee, because he was clearly the most easily defeat-able Republican.

No small number of liberals helped Trump to win the Republican nomination. Those few cases where I interacted with them, I warned them to be careful what they wished for. So, did I call that, or what? I called it when there were still 14 Republican presidential hopefuls.

It was the same thing I said during 2008, when excited Republicans were calling into Rush Limbaugh to report how they had crossed party lines and voted for Barack Obama. Tee-hee-hee! There’s just no way Barack Obama could possibly win. Limbaugh doesn’t tend to bring up his campaign to make Barack Obama the Democratic nominee in 2008, but he did it.

Be careful what you wish for. I would always recommend folks vote for what they want, not to game the system. But people will always want to be too clever by half. Human nature.

So, that’s lesson 1 (other than always listening to me, because 60% of the time I’m right all the time): be careful what you wish for. You might get it. And then keep getting it, even though you want it to stop now.


I think lesson number 2 is the demographics isn’t destiny, at least not yet.

It might be, 8 years from now or 16 years from now or 24 years from now, but not yet. The corollary lesson is: impatience is not a virtue. Demographics looks to be the critical factor in American elections in the future, but it isn’t yet, and saying “But I want it now” like Veruca Salt doesn’t make it happen.

In fact, it might end up with your candidate being determined a bad egg and getting memory-holed by a reclusive serial child-abuser disguising himself as a chocolatier.


Lesson 3 is that polls are not worthless, just almost worthless.

In the lead up to the election, while Trump was complaining that the vote would be rigged, there was some interesting discussing on the Plum Line about how elections weren’t rigged, but Republicans only won when they rigged elections.

The primary example given was 2004, where exit polls predicted a clear Kerry victory, but somehow George W. Bush stole the election. Although an incumbent president who replaced a president of the opposite party almost always wins re-election. But never mind, it was stolen, because the exit polls said Kerry won. Kerry did, briefly, mull a challenge to the results based on those exit polls.

But the problem wasn’t that Bush stole the election, the problem was that the exit polling was bad. This time, almost all the polling was off. The polls captured growing momentum as election night neared, but in no way captured the scale of Trump’s electoral victory.

Another way to restate this lesson: don’t trust the polls.


Lesson 4 is a lesson for both parties and political sides, but I think it’s particularly applicable to the Democrats and liberals in this cycle: name calling is fine, if it’s your opponent or common enemies of the people. It’s bad when it’s potential voters.

Making everyone who disagrees with you into a hopeless racist sexist bigot homophobe beyond redemption is a losing strategy. And will continue to do so, until demographics finally do become destiny. Until then, insisting there is no reason not to call a spade a spade, and you will, in principle, stand tall and strong and call everyone who doesn’t agree with you a Nazi, is not a winning strategy.

There is a deeper dive into the risks of playing identity politics that could and should be had, but that’s a future lesson.

Insulting the voters also applies to the Republicans, of course, but I think it’s pretty clear who had the lower opinion of rural folks, flyover country, and middle-town America in this election. Not to mention what Democrats apparently think of folks south of the Mason-Dixon line.


Lesson 5 is mostly for the Democrats: when playing identity politics, stick with race, not gender. An important part of identity politics ultimately has to be that the candidate reflects the identity of the class of people you want to vote for you. Ergo, Obama was a successful candidate in terms of identity politics. He got African-Americans to turn out and vote Democrat in unprecedented numbers and, importantly, vote for him specifically.

Hillary was unable to do that with women, and I’m not sure any woman could. Could Sarah Palin? Carly Fiorina? I don’t think so. Not every potential grouping of humanity is susceptible to identity politics-style appeals. Whichever woman finally does become president, in other words, it’s not going to be because she is a woman and “it’s time”.


Lesson 5? Money doesn’t buy electoral victories.

This will be lost on most of the left, I expect, but it’s simply true. Demonstrated repeatedly. Donald Trump didn’t spend as much as Clinton. His supporters didn’t spend as much on him as Romney’s did on their candidate. The PACs weren’t as flush with cash. Jeb! Bush had far more money, and spent far more money, in the primaries than Trump, and went nowhere. Meddlesome billionaires poured cash into the election, and not just in ads, but into support networks and astroturfing and on and on. The result? Rich jerk who occasionally said positive things about the working class, and actually would do a little fighting for them, sort of, won the election. Oligarchs who plowed money into the election like their lives depended on it lost.

As corollary, I would say another lesson, to be learned or ignored, is this: in a democracy, the elites and oligarchs ignore the proletariat and the common man at their peril.


Lesson 6? Presidential debates just aren’t that important.

Might be becoming less important as time goes on. Neither performed that well but Trump was generally seen as the loser. My own observations were that he did not come off as presidential, and sometimes not even as competent. He missed obvious opportunities, was not articulate, and mostly HRC more than held her own against him. Ultimately, none of that seemed to matter that much.

Predictions now?

  1. Hillary will not go to jail, despite Trump’s implying that she’d be in jail under a Trump presidency.
  2. There will be more turn over in the Trump cabinet than is typical. This may not be a bad thing.
  3. Deportation will become self-deportation, perhaps a beefing up of e-Verify.
  4. There will be no wall.
  5. He will urge the house to repeal ObamaCare. It will become something similar with a different name. I don’t believe pre-existing condition coverage will be going anywhere. Now that the Republicans control everything, Obamacare will cease to be a huge issue.
  6. Many on the left will rend their garments and tear out their hair, predicting that abortion will be outlawed, all Mexicans forcibly deported, Muslims shot on site at airports, etc. None of this will happen, but nobody will be called out on their crazy predictions.
  7. Democrats will continue to make a serious push for an end to the electoral college, especially if they get the house or the senate in midterms, but will make no headway.
  8. The filibuster, if used much, will get the nuclear option. For reals, this time.
  9. And, my far out prediction? Trump puts some fairly well-known Democrats in his cabinet, and maybe plays identity politics (minorities edition) with some of his choices.
  10. And, along with that, keep in mind that Trump is less partisan than he is Trumptastic. He will continue to make enemies amongst Republicans and Democrats. It won’t matter, he’ll still win re-election in another close race in 2020.

81 Responses

  1. Didn’t really address misogyny as a factor in this piece. I tend to feel that’s because it can’t be judged. People who feel they have been victims of misogyny might feel that of course Hillary lost because she was a woman, and a great deal of sexist claptrap was thrown at her. I imagine this is true—I’ve talked before about how sexism and racism becomes permissible when you don’t like the person for other reasons—but I think it’s hard to measure. Other people, who simply objected to HRC because she’s a Democrat, or based on her policies, or feel she was corrupt will find no misogyny in their own analysis, and likely feel misogyny played no significant role in the election at all.

    Put briefly, I don’t personally think any lesson can be learned about misogyny from this election. Would Hillary have won if she had been a man? Possible, but unlikely, if his campaign was otherwise like hers. Is it misogynistic that Trump’s audiotape confessions of treating women as sex objects, if not openly condoning sexual assault, did not cause him to lose the election? I think it’s hard to measure.

    And statistics tend to indicate that after 8 years in power, elections are going to favor the opposition party. Given that that has always been true for our male presidents, is the fact that it did not change for Hillary Clinton indicate misogyny, or just the ebb and flow of politics? And so on.

    But a lot of people obviously believe misogyny played a significant role. If so, then it would mostly have to be the misogyny of liberals and Democrats, as conservatives and Republicans were generally unlikely to vote for her, anyway.


    • My test for misogyny as a determinate factor in politics is will you not support someone on your team/tribe/side because they are a woman?

      I think tribalism/partisanship will trump it most of the time.


      • That’s my guess. Hard to say: who is going to come out and say they didn’t support their team because of the person’s gender in this day and age? It intuitively doesn’t make any sense to me, but trying to avoid confirmation bias. I’d have voted for Michigoose over Hillary or Trump any day of the week.


  2. Re the debates: I think this was a special case. Debates are usually the first big introduction of a political candidate to the voters. In this election, both candidates were well-known quantities and opinions were largely set going into them…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agree with Brent on “degates”. This was a special case. Or maybe each one is a special case. When it serves as an introduction, as it did for JFK and RWR, it can be a really big deal.


    • I should say I think debates are becoming less important. Next few election cycles will determine if I’m right. But I’m biased because they increasingly appear to me to be ratings vehicles of networks and given the bias of the moderators and networks, or just general vapidity, I just don’t personally see debates as doing much to impact the general election. Primaries are a different matter.


  3. Liked by 1 person

  4. For Scott.


    • McWing:

      For Scott

      Black votes only counted as 1/3 of a vote? Huh?

      Anyway, that is precisely the kind of ignoramus that media promotion of the “popular vote” count is aimed at exploiting and riling up. The fact that a candidate might, as Hillary does and as Dem candidate do more and more as a general matter, garner a majority of votes by appealing to the narrow interests of just a few densely populated geographic centers rather than appealing to a wide swath of interests across the nation as a whole is precisely why the election is state by state rather than a national popular vote! Far from being an outrage, the fact that HRC can win a bare majority of the national “popular vote” by capturing overwhelming numbers in just a few urban centers on each coast, but still lose the election is a demonstration that the system design actually works as planned!

      If the media were interested in informing and educating the populace rather than in pushing ideological buttons, that is the point it would be making, rather than pressing the “for just the fifth time in history” narrative.


      • Walter and I were talking about this just this morning. It seems obvious to me why we have the system we do. I get tired of people throwing the popular vote out there as if it’s important, it’s not. I explained it to one of my daughters yesterday too and now she understands.

        She also didn’t understand why I feel compelled to not vote for one of the major candidates and I explained to her that as long as I’ve lived in CA, my entire adult life, I’ve always known how the state would vote so I’m free to vote however I want. My vote is virtually meaningless so I might as well try to give it some meaning for myself.


      • I agree with Scott that the election should represent the will of the states, and I agree with maintaining the Electoral College. What I think is lacking in the discussion is an analysis of the relative political strength of people within the states.

        The Senate, the senior chamber, is the representative of the states. The House, the junior chamber, is the representative of the people.

        The combined number of Senators and Representatives determines the Electors.

        As we have discussed here before, I think with general agreement, the populations of the big states, most particularly California and Texas, and a bit less so, FL and NY, are woefully under-represented in the House.

        For example, California’s population is greater than the population of the 21 smallest states, as of the 2010 Census.

        For another example, If the minimum number of CDs per state is one, WY would get one, but CA would have 66 CDs and TX would have 45 CDs. It is long past time for Congress to increase it size to give equal representation to residents within states, vis a vis residents of other states. This does not take a constitutional amendment.

        I would be in favor of expanding the House after each Decennial Census. I think Scott proposed a much smaller set size for CDs, rather than basing them off the population of the smallest state, and that works, too.

        I wonder that no one has raised a Due Process argument about this, as the number of CDs is not fixed by the Constitution, but the parameters of CDs [“Representatives … shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this union, according to their respective numbers,…” AND “The number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty thousand, but each state shall have at least one Representative] are crystal clear.

        It seems to me to be almost a mere ministerial function, and the Constitution also ties the count in the House to the Decennial Census.

        Election results would not generally be earth shatteringly different, but in close races, like this one, they might differ.

        We have joked that like any committee of more than 7 people or so Congress does not work. However, it has the internal structures of standing committees to do work, and a much larger Congress might be tempted to actually hold committee meetings and conduct business. Or not. It could just mean more scramble for money.

        Which is besides the legal point. CDs are not serving their mandate of being apportioned according to the numbers of persons in the respective states and the fix is by simple legislation.


    • Trust nothing. The guy being interviewed is a former CNN cameraman, apparently. Might have mentioned that.


  5. He will urge the house to repeal ObamaCare. It will become something similar with a different name. I don’t believe pre-existing condition coverage will be going anywhere. Now that the Republicans control everything, Obamacare will cease to be a huge issue.

    I know ObamaCare is a real negative to most of you guys but I hope you’re right on this Kevin. Over 2 million Americans have benefited in some way from the ACA and I hope it remains in some form. They can make it better if they want though!


  6. Thanks, Kevin.


  7. Lesson #7 is for the Democrats. They seriously, seriously need to start grooming downticket politicians for higher office. I partially blame President Obama for sucking all of the oxygen out of the room, but the Democratic Party sat on their collective hands for eight years and didn’t think about this election. I started ranting seven years ago about this, and I don’t see anything changing. They need to pay attention now, and start thinking about the 2020 and 2024 elections. Who is going to run? And don’t start naming names like Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, etc., etc., etc.. They need to stop looking at the boomers and work on people who are in their mid-40s right now.


    • I think Fauxahontas will be 71 in four years and Sherrod Brown will be 68.


    • The folks who should have run this time for the Ds were Mark Warner, John Hickenlooper, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Tim Kaine, and a couple others.

      Warner and Hickenlooper will be in their mid 60s next time, so maybe not then. Maybe Gilliland gets added to the list of under 60s for next time. Eric Garcetti will be 49 or 50.

      I could see Klobuchar-Booker, or Kaine-Garcetti, for example.

      This Texan is a sleeper possibility, btw, for VP:

      Plenty of time for name ID stuff.


      • I would have left Cory Booker off that list–too little experience at the national level to date. For 2020 I think he should be considered, though.

        Amy Klobuchar was the one I really wanted to run this time.


        • Warner = most biz friendly D.
          Klobuchar = best friend of law enforcement D.
          Gillibrand = most Armed Forces Committee Terrorism Subcommittee experienced D.

          These are features for a D, as far as I am concerned.

          Add that Booker is the best public speaker in the group – but still probably only VP material unless he pulls major Committee work for a few years.


      • Know who could have won this cycle? Jim Webb.


    • Clizza agrees with you.

      “One of the untold stories of the Obama presidency is how singular his victory was. Yes, Obama won more than 330 electoral votes, twice. But his success at the ballot box was never transferable. Democrats lost badly in the Senate and House in 2010 and 2014. And the damage done even further down the ballot was more grave; Democrats lost more than 900 state legislative seats in those two elections.”

      It’s crazy how the narrative has gone from the Republican party is doomed and will crack up after this election to the Democrats are doomed for a generation.


    • ” I partially blame President Obama for sucking all of the oxygen out of the room,”

      That’s like blaming Humphrey Bogart for being awesome. He couldn’t help it!

      Both parties tend to favor the old guard, because they are run by the old guard. They are prejudiced toward preserving the existing power structure, because too much change looks bad. These are problems that will be difficult to address internally for either party.


      • He should have started grooming his successor(s) from Day One, rather than coasting along. Especially with Joe Biden as his VP (which I think was a great choice, and not something I would have changed). His cabinet in the second administration should have started reflecting people who could run for president and be taken seriously, and they should have made sure that Democratic governors and senators who could have been likely candidates were given prominent support.


        • Well, I would have voted for you, ‘Goose. Groom yourself for 2020.

          Who is Moonbeam’s LG in California? Brown has been a terrific governor, in part because he cast aside further ambition, and worked very hard. But I think he is “grooming” someone, isn’t he?

          Are there any general officers out there who come to mind, ‘Goose?

          I still think the loss of Petraeus was a tragedy.


        • Mark:

          Well, I would have voted for you, ‘Goose. Groom yourself for 2020.

          What makes Mich a better candidate than Romney?


        • Is Romney grooming himself for a primary challenge to DJT in 2020?

          Was Romney a chemical warfare officer in the Gulf?

          I rest my case.


        • Mark:

          Is Romney grooming himself for a primary challenge to DJT in 2020?

          I interpreted “would have” to be past tense. But to answer your question….I hope so, but I doubt it.


        • *snort*

          Gavin Newsome is the LG in California. He’s currently 49, which is a titch older than I’d prefer, but he could be a great candidate. Former mayor, so he has tons of executive experience, and I imagine that Gov Moonbeam has, indeed, been grooming him.

          The only former generals that I think would make good presidential candidates are about your age, so not really in the running for me (so to speak).

          I’m blanking on the guy’s name, but there was a US Army major who got noticed for his blogging during the Iraq War. He’d be an interesting candidate.


        • jnc4p/Michigoose 2020?

          Or would Michigoose/jnc4p be better?


        • @scottc1: “What makes Mich a better candidate than Romney?”



        • “Or would Michigoose/jnc4p be better?”

          Depends which party you are running under. If it’s left leaning, Mich should lead the ticket. More libertarian, then jnc4p should lead the ticket.

          But, frankly, I want to see a NoVAHockey presidency with Michigoose as head of the Department of Health and Human Services, jnc4p as Secretary of State, markinaustin as Attorney General, Brent as Secretary of the Treasury and Troll McWingnut as Secretary of Defense. That’s a real dream team right there. Or Michigoose as president. Changed my mind. Identity politics or not, I want to see a woman president in my lifetime and I’m getting old. Michigoose would definitely be my preference over HRC or Elizabeth Warren or even Carly Fiorina.


        • Scott should probably be Fed Chair.


  8. Lesson #8. Probably for both parties, but it affected the Democrats more this time.

    Ground game does not necessarily translate into voters getting to the booth. Both the female and Hispanic voter turnout was lower than 2008 and 2012, despite the vaunted Clinton ground game (which I think was probably real). That is an issue that I don’t really have any good ideas for how to fix; voters are either going to vote or they aren’t. Maybe we need to switch to WA and OR’s mail-in ballot system.


    • Why is more people voting a good thing for the Republic?


      • Lessons learned can just be observations. Addressing it is a mixed bag. The assumption is that better turn out will help this or that party, and it probably will, but which one depends on the election.

        I think this election represented a lot of disinterested voters, because of two spectacularly unappealing candidates. Run JFK against Ronald Reagan and we’ll see turnout like you’ve never seen.


      • Traditionally, it is a good thing for the Democratic candidate.


        Liked by 1 person

      • McWing:

        Why is more people voting a good thing for the Republic?

        Great question. It seems to me that anyone who is too lazy or apathetic to vote is almost certainly too lazy or apathetic to have an informed opinion. Why would we want them to vote?


        • It’s a non-issue. Most of the people voting with enthusiasm don’t really have informed or researched opinions, and nobody’s ability, no matter how informed, to predict performance is as good as they think it is, and confirmation bias tends to make us see our candidate having performed better, if elected, than they did. It’s really just a very complicated way to randomly select a president while making the general public feel included. So more inclusion or less is not particularly critical to the quality of the outcome.

          Trends suggest more turnout favors Democrats, but that likely has the cause-effect calculus backwards. That is, an appealing Democratic candidate may well attract more voters than an appealing Republican candidate, when there is one. So if you merely get more people to the polls, you may find the extra turnout favors the more famous candidate, or the more attractive candidate, or the one with the most appealing name, etc.

          Ultimately, voters are random number generators that help us select from a variety of potential candidates, none of whose performance we can actually predict as well as we think we can or later believe we did. If you have 50 million people to show up, you have plenty of inputs to ensure a sufficiently random result (thus, preventing single party rule). Votes actually matter more in smaller elections and on ballot initiatives, etc.

          All you need to see to judge that people cannot predict what will come from an election is read the stuff being written now about the coming Trump presidency. The same apocalyptic stuff that was written about Reagan and Dubya, and although I don’t support the Iraq war and wish we hadn’t done it . . . of all the apocalyptic stuff that was predicted from ChimpNazi Bush, that wasn’t it.

          I think most voters vote based on tribal adhesion, and their predictions of what would happen if the other person won or what will happen if there person won is so inaccurate as to be meaningless.

          But variation does seem to be good for the overall health of the country. It seems to slow down radicalization, the unstoppable lurch to the left, lets us try variations on treaties and foreign policies we never would if a single party or a single leader dominated for decades on end.

          But simple increasing turnout is unlikely to make a huge difference. At the same time, there are a lot of people who feel turnout = civic engagement, and they want to feel like the population is civically engaged. It’s a positive metric, to their mind.

          Although I tend to disagree. The less people are engaged, the better off people are. Lack of engagement is a sign of an affluent society filled with busy people who aren’t terrible concerned about “the system”, and thus feel no pressing need to protect it or change it. When you get 100% voter engagement, then the apocalypse really is nigh. Things would have to be horrible for that many people to care enough to show up and vote.


        • KW:

          Most of the people voting with enthusiasm don’t really have informed or researched opinions,

          Oh I know. I see no reason to go out of the way to increase that pool of particular kind of voter.

          Ultimately, voters are random number generators that help us select from a variety of potential candidates, none of whose performance we can actually predict as well as we think we can

          Depends on what you mean by “performance”. Proclaimed ideology is a fairly decent predictor of the kinds of policy initiatives a candidate is likely to promote while in office, which is the kind of “performance” that I care about.


    • BTW, you’re definitely right about both 7 and 8. They should totally be added to the revised edition, especially on the relevance of ground game. I feel like my beliefs about the relevance of GoTV and ground game were all wrong. My guess was that, all things being equal, Trump’s lack of ground game and party support and so on would doom him. I was 100% wrong on that.

      So either Trump had a secret GoTV/ground game thing going on nobody knew about, or I bought into the PR and GoTV/ground game is simply not that critical.


  9. Yes I forgot a zero above but the number of Americans benefiting changes depending where you look anyway.

    Here’s a piece from HHS that details some of the ways it’s helping Americans though and also helping the way we deliver health care.

    Have a great Veteran’s Day everyone…………off to the mountains for a couple of days.


  10. Just thought I would pass this on….

    My middle daughter forwarded me this blogpost, she found somewhere. I won’t quote the entire thing, but it is worth reading.

    With the results of the presidential election stirring up a vast amount of emotions, I think it is important to clarify something: just because I am Republican does not mean I am heartless. The point of this is not to debate political policies. It is to highlight what it felt like to be a Republican college student the day after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.

    On November 9th, I went to class and in every single one there was a somber attitude. Pre-lecture discussions were filled with phrases like “I am scared for our future”, “I am scared to be gay”, “How did this happen?”, and, by far the most bothersome, “People that voted for Trump are racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic selfish red necks”. Even my professors opened class with the assumption that everyone was sad about the result of the election by saying things like, “let’s not talk about last night. Ever.” or “No class on Friday. I’m house hunting in Canada.”…

    …The response to this election has made me, and many other college students who voted Republican, feel that we need to hide or downplay our satisfaction over our victory because of the fear that our opposing peers will label us. That is not right. The controversy surrounding both candidates during this election took voting based on character out of the question. In my opinion, neither candidate has outstanding character.

    Silencing those who simply exercised their right to vote in our free nation violates the core principles for which our country stands. I am by no means saying that those who were not happy with the results of the election do not have the right to mourn. They absolutely do. However, I am saying that those who are content with the results should feel safe in expressing their joy and optimism for the future of this country without the fear of being ostracized.

    My daughter texted that this post captured her own experiences on campus perfectly, adding:

    all i have heard today is people putting down trump and everyone who voted for him and i have not heard one person say anything to defend themselves myself included cuz i am afraid what people will think of me when they know i voted for trump

    Yesterday James Taranto made an excellent observation in the last item of his column Best of the Web. He noted an article from the Yale Daily News about the election, which quoted one student, named Gabriel Gruz, expressing fear about Trump’s election and calling it “the rise of the fascist”. The article then went on to quote a Trump supporter who “requested to remain anonymous for fear of backlash”. Taranto observed:

    So the guy who’s for Trump is afraid to be named publicly, but the guy who thinks fascism is dawning has no such hesitation.

    This is exactly correct. Who is it, really, that is inspiring actual, legitimate fear, Trump or the left itself?


    • On an Ivy League campus, you have nothing to fear from Trump supporters and everything to fear from the left. There’s not much to fear down south if you are or were a Trump supporter. And it has everything to do with concentrations of liberals! Where they are a clear majority, they become a mob.


      • KW:

        There’s not much to fear down south if you are or were a Trump supporter.

        Not so, according to my daughter, at least on college campuses, which as you know are pretty much bastions of liberalism even in the south.


    • ” “People that voted for Trump are racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic selfish red necks”. Even my professors opened class with the assumption that everyone was sad about the result of the election by saying things like, “let’s not talk about last night. Ever.” or “No class on Friday. I’m house hunting in Canada.”…”

      The first part is really the achilles heel of the left. I think many Democratic politicians understand this, but their supporters don’t, at all. They apparently don’t understand what drives tribal loyalties, the problem with purity tests in terms of alienating potential allies, and the fact that nobody really sees themselves as racists, bigots, sexists, homophobes, or selfish. It’s a position guaranteed to alienate everybody but the True Believers in the One True Faith.

      The second part is funny, too. Good look house hunting in Canada. Canada already has the kind of immigration laws Republicans have been proposing—in fact, more restrictive. So good to luck in immigrating. Might be able to buy a house but it will likely be a long time before that professor becomes a Canadian citizen. Irony!


      • KW:

        The first part is really the achilles heel of the left.

        I think it is one of their most effective tactics. By characterizing opposing views with some sort of stigmatizing, universally objectionable “ism”, they immediately put those opposing views on the defensive and force those who hold them to either defend themselves against the charge or be silent. Either way, the left manages to avoid substantive discussions about the issue itself, discussions that are not necessarily likely to be amenable to leftist policy desires.

        The left does this all the time, on policy position after policy position. If you support legal restrictions on abortion, you are sexist waging a “war on women”. If you support maintaining the traditional definition of marriage, you are a hate-spouting homophobe If you oppose some sort of national policy on locker room usage, you are a bigot. If you oppose new wealth redistribution policies you are heartless. If you oppose affirmative action programs you are a racist.

        All of these labels are aimed at shutting down real, substantive discussions about these issues. And they have been a key and very effective part of the success that the progressive project has had to date.


        • To be specific, I’m talking about attracting voters, not necessarily advancing policy or in practicing thought control on college campuses or think-tanks or foundations. I certainly don’t think it’s their biggest strength, and I think it’s becoming more of a weakness all the time.

          I mean, yes, liberals and lefties and many young skulls full of mush might respond, but independents? Fence-sitters?

          It’s also too easy to get potential allies supporters caught up in that net.

          I should also be specific in that I think it can be effective to call certain candidates racist, bigot, sexist, homophobe, but I don’t think it’s effective to call anyone who might vote for them for things completely unrelated to positions on race or gender those things. It’s alienating. And if anybody should know about alienation, it’s liberals.

          It’s the wide net, the screaming “you’re all racists” and talking about the “whitelash” that is pretty much alienating and unconvincing to everybody who isn’t already deeply entrenched in the liberal/lefty/Democrat bubble.


        • KW:

          I should also be specific in that I think it can be effective to call certain candidates racist, bigot, sexist, homophobe, but I don’t think it’s effective to call anyone who might vote for them for things completely unrelated to positions on race or gender those things.

          Yeah, I think that is a good distinction.


      • KW:

        Ace just linked to this….some British lefty making basically the point you just made above, but in a rather more ranty, NSFW manner. stay with it past the first minute or so. It gets better.


        • I saw this on Facebook, and it got a lot of circulation. Every time from somebody I know to be conservative-ish or libertarian or Independent.

          So far, of my small sample (I’ve got maybe 20 liberal Facebook friends), none of them have picked up on it. In general, I believe they prefer the catharsis of uninhibited self-expression and indulgence in drama to winning elections. If they had to choose between expressing themselves (and hating everybody that didn’t vote like them) and Trump losing the next election, they’d pick the one where they get to call be racists and bigots and sexists (and least, a great deal of them).

          I think he’s right, ultimately. A lot of independents and non-voters and Reagan Democrats and so-on would be receptive to a liberal populist message that did not dismiss them and their community as “bitter clingers” or “racist, sexist xenophobes” and acknowledge (ala Bill Clinton) that immigration concerns are legitimate and not entirely about hating the Scary Other and blaming brown people.


  11. All I want to know is 1) how soon, and 2) what can I do to help speed the process.


    • Heh. Not going to happen. They are a significant source of federal taxes, for one thing. A large deal of federal land the federal government is never going to release to an independent nation. And so on.

      What I would like to see—and it’s also never going to happen—is the conversion from winner-takes-all to percentage allocation of electoral votes. Put it would reduce California’s power at the national level. Despite the fact that a national policy of split electoral votes might have given Clinton the win this time around.


      • KW:

        They are a significant source of federal taxes, for one thing. A large deal of federal land the federal government is never going to release to an independent nation. And so on.

        I am highly motivated to negotiate over these things. I would be willing to cut them a very generous deal. In fact, my generosity would even grow if they could convince the likes of New York to join them.


  12. Facebook is interesting. I’m friends with a lot of conservatives and liberals, and have liked a lot of conservative and liberal news feeds. So, I’m seeing a lot of hate crimes supposedly inspired by Trump’s election, some of which seem legit but many of which smell very fishy. And lots of stuff on left wing protestors, and allegations these protestors are being funded by folks like Soros to destabilize and delegitimize a Trump presidency at the outset. And liberals are generally urging conservatives not to commit hate crimes, and conservatives are urging liberals not to riot and loot and beat people up. What I’m not seeing is a lot of “hey, don’t commit hate crimes and don’t riot and loot”.

    Either most of the liberals bubbles are so insular they are not seeing any violent protest stuff (or endorse it) and conservatives aren’t seeing the hate crime stuff, or nobody believes their own side is doing anything inappropriate, and everything is fake or overblown (when it looks bad for their side).

    So far, I’m the only one reaching the conclusion that this is the new normal. Whoever wins the Whitehouse in the future, there will be riots and something like “celebratory hate crimes” in the future.

    Wondering if both protests and some of the hate crimes (if faked) are about inciting electors to vote against their state’s popular vote.


  13. Sometimes it is hard to fathom how completely fucked up some people are.


    • That video amazed me. The mother clearly intended to video it and post it. Why? What was the reaction she expected? I can’t imagine anyway to interpret it than she’s just a horrible mother. Although it’s hard to imagine what could motivate someone to do this . . . jeeze, some people. Also, it’s kind of an invitation to get a visit from Child Protective Services.

      Humanity often leaves me bewildered.


      • What was the reaction she expected?

        Holy shit.

        I agree with you and Scott that demonization is a tool of the left. I agree with you and me that it is a tool of the right. I even think it is a tool of 24/7 media because pithiness is taken to an extreme for an impatient audience.

        Demonization has been in American politics from the beginning. And it has never furthered rational debate.

        You gotta be pretty insensitive to demonization if you don’t hear the blanket attack on “pro-life” voters as crusaders against women, or the blanket attack on Muslims as terrorists, or the blanket attack on Trump supporters as racists and fascists, or the blanket attack on liberals as communists, or the blanket attack on flouridation as mind control, or God knows how much other crap, world without end.


        • The 24/7 media has apparently hired political party strategists as commentators. I don’t watch them, having only broadcast TV plus Roku. I read that CNN hired Brazile and Lewandoski and tried to pass them off as journalists, or at least blurred the lines. I read FOX had Hannity commenting while actively running part of DJT’s campaign. If this is true, I am glad I don’t see this stuff AT ALL.

          And it would support my notion that the cable folks tend to shorthand news into demonized sound bites.


        • Judging from the internet spam I get – I looked at my spam pile to research this – there is far more Very Far Right fictional news on the internet than Very Far Left fictional news.

          “BHO is Satan”, “HRC is Satan”, “Chelsea not WJC’s daughter”, “Pope endorsed DJT”, “Soros paid to bus rioters to San Marcos”, etc., etc., etc.


        • NoVA, you probably have the closest thing to an inside feel for this.

          Assume, by assumption, that the Rs in Congress would be a lot happier with Pence than with DJT.

          Given the real possibility that the con artist either pulls a self dealing scam or commits a true national security breach, and assuming that occurs:

          1] would the Rs impeach?
          2] would the Ds stay out of their way?


        • Barely what, 2 to 3 percent of the voting electorate watches this stuff anyway. Why do we get so worked up over it? I’m as guilty as anyone.


        • Barely what, 2 to 3 percent of the voting electorate watches this stuff anyway.

          Is that right? IDK. Also, I am not exercised about it. I only looked at my month of spam because of this conversation. It is simply a true, albeit anecdotal, observation.

          You were referring to my spam, correct?


        • I was referring to cable news, but I might as well throw in network news and daily papers and round it up to 7 or 8’percent of the electorate.


        • I just deleted the 30 spams here but they were either unintelligible, or in an Asian language, or in Russian, or selling clothing for women. We are so boring.


        • Mark:

          …the blanket attack on Muslims as terrorists…

          Who on the right has made such a blanket attack?

          the blanket attack on liberals as communists

          Communism ceased to even be a talking point for the right 25 years ago. And its been even longer than that since any prominent member of the right has tried to portray a D presidential candidate or his followers as communists. (FDR, maybe?)

          the blanket attack on flouridation as mind control

          This hasn’t been an issue in what, 60 years?

          I know you are loathe to think that the left ever displays any objectionable political characteristics distinct to it, but I don’t think the evidence supports your “everyone does it” view in this case. The fact that you have to reach back into the recesses of history to come up with ostensibly equivalent examples from the right suggests to me that the equivalency you would like to find isn’t actually there.


        • Mark:

          The following are all characterizations that people on the left regularly place on political positions to which it is opposed:

          1) If you favor tighter restrictiins on legal abortion, you are waging “a war on women”.

          2) If you oppose changing the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, you are a “hater” and a “homophobe”.

          3) If you favor voter ID laws, you want to disenfranchise blacks and other minorities.

          4) If you favor stricter immigration laws, you are a “racist”.

          5) If you oppose policies ostensibly aimed to combat climate change, you are a climate change “denier”.

          These are not characterizations used just by a few passionate advocates for the specific issues under question. They are characterizations used by respected, high profile D politicians as a matter of course when discussing these issues. Now, perhaps my own biases keep me from seeing how the right does the same thing, dismissing progressive political positions and the people who hold them in similar, demonizing terms. So maybe you can peel the scales from my eyes and give me 4 or 5 examples of how Republicans do this with Democratic positions and politicians.


  14. I had totally forgotten about this from. 2011:

    What was the point in making Trump the focal point of such mean-spirited mockery back in 2011?


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