Saturday, November 19, 2016

Post-Election Thoughts

I remember precisely what I was doing when I realized Donald Trump was going to win the election.

Our Chihuahua had started running in circles in front of the couch, her nails making a sound on the hardwood that always irritates me. I asked if she had to go potty and she responded by circling even faster, which I took to mean yes, so I stood, grabbed her leash from the coat rack, stooped over, slid it round her neck, and turned to lead her to the front door. That was when I heard Megyn Kelly proclaim that Fox had a major announcement to make.

Those words caused me to pivot back around and look at the TV. Seconds later Kelly said Wisconsin was being called for Trump, and that's when I knew his momentum could not be stopped.

He had already taken the swing states of Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio; was running neck and neck with Hillary in the usually blue states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and New Hampshire; and all signs indicated he was going to win usually blue Iowa... so when the Badger State turned red on a day without college football, it became clear that electoral history was being made.

Schadenfreude instantly began coursing through my veins despite me having repeatedly written that Trump ain't fit to be prez... My virtuous side thrilled at the thought of Clinton Inc. getting rebuked by America because America's voters decided they are not going to tolerate any more above-the-law corruption in public office... My less virtuous side grinned at the thought of Hillary's arrogant, self-absorbed ass being denied the MacGuffin she does not deserve yet feels entitled to... And my entirely unvirtuous side cackled gleefully at thoughts of Rachel Maddow losing control of her bowels and Lena Dunham's half-watt brain straining to figure out how to make good on her promise to move to Canada.

But then I felt sorry for Canada and especially for the people of Vancouver, whose tranquility was threatened by Dunham identifying their city as the specific place to which she would relocate in the event of a Trump victory.

Today, no matter how much the devil on my one shoulder tells me to enjoy the spectacle, the angel on my other one reminds me that I have opposed Trump and been serious about opposing him. So with those competing voices in my ears, here are some of my post-election thoughts:

Democrat Implosion
On November 8th most members of the punditry and political class were certain that Trump's candidacy proved the GOP was in the throes of an existential crisis... but come November 9th it was obvious that it is the Democrats, not the Republicans, who are in crisis.

The Democratic Party is now on a six-year losing streak that includes consecutive mid-term shellackings and massive losses of state legislatures and governor's mansions, in addition to last week's unprecedented presidential defeat.

What makes the presidential defeat unprecedented? The fact that it came against a candidate who: 1) has never held a single political office, not even dog-catcher; 2) ignored every rule of conventional political wisdom known to man; 3) is distrusted even by many in his own party; and 4) oversaw a thinly staffed campaign that did little oppo research or internal polling and had only a fraction of the field offices his competitor had.

Despite being portrayed by the media as anti-Hispanic and anti-black, Trump increased the GOP's share of both the Hispanic vote and the black vote by substabtial margins.

Making matters even more dire, the Dems lost Wisconsin for the first time since 1984, Michigan and Pennsylvania for the first time since 1988, Iowa for only the second time in the last seven elections -- and came within two points of losing Minnesota, which has not voted Republican in 44 years (a full twenty years longer than California).

Since 2008, when Obama was first elected, the percentage of votes to go Democrat in presidential elections in the Midwest has dropped from 54 to 45... and the change in Midwestern electoral votes is even more dramatic, having gone from 80-38 Democrat in 2012 to 88-30 Republican this year.

Even in the Northeast, which Clinton still managed to win, her share of the vote was four points smaller than Obama's in 2012.

On the same night Trump defeated Clinton for the presidency, a Republican was elected governor of Vermont -- by nine freakin' points.

And back in usually blue Pennsylvania, where a U.S. Senate seat was up for grabs, more money was spent on Democrat Kathleen McGinty's campaign than has ever been on any Senate campaign in all of American history -- yet she still lost to Republican Pat Toomey.

So yes, it is the party of the jackass, not the party of the pachyderm, that is in free fall.

Will the Dems...
...look in the mirror when they search for someone to blame for their defeat?

In a sane world, when you get routed so thoroughly and nominate a presidential candidate who is so bad she can't even beat the opponent described above, it would cause you to reconsider what you are doing. But the Democratic Party is run by people who seem incapable of understanding that they aren't perfect, so who knows what the party's long-term reaction will be?

There has been some talk of turning the reins over to its leftist wing, the one where Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are perched. However, many of the party's leaders are the exact kind of people Sanders is talking about when he rails against "millionaires and billionaires," and Warren The Fake Cherokee is herself one of those people, even if her fans don't realize it. So what are the odds of the party going in that direction? And if it does, will moving that way increase or decrease its chances of winning in the future? I dunno.

Meanwhile, I have seen online comments that say the states that voted for Clinton are the smart ones so the others should go to Hell where they belong. That sentiment is fueling the suddenly trending movement for California (and perhaps California, Oregon, and Washington in unison) to secede from the country because Clinton lost. I daresay that that attitude is not only smug and infantile, but also stupid and ignorant, and it disproves its own "we're better" premise. It is the primary reason Trump beat Clinton, which means the Dems will be committing political suicide if they embrace it and advance it.

Primary Reason?
When I say that that smug attitude is the primary reason Trump beat Clinton, what I mean is that this was a backlash election. People voted for Trump not because he offered compelling ideas or high policy, but because they are sick of snobbish elites looking down their noses at them and insulting their intelligence, and they love that Trump punches back at the elites without apologizing. Because the vast majority of elites are on the left side of the political spectrum, the voters' backlash inevitably drew far more blood from the Democratic Party than from the Republican Party.

So, will the Republicans...
...successfully walk the tightrope on which they now stand?

In case I wasn't clear in the previous section, let me put it a different way: Trump's victory was not really a victory of conservatism or Republicanism, it was merely a rejection of elitism.

Now, with him of all people being the face of both the populist revolt and the GOP, the GOP is in a precarious position.

Starting in January Republicans will own the executive branch and both chambers of the legislative branch, which means they will be able to do whatever they want because Democrats will be numerically incapable of stopping them. This means that every policy failure for the next two years will be owned by the GOP because new policies will have few (if any) Democrat fingerprints on them. In turn, this means that if things don't go well, the GOP could get slaughtered in the 2018 mid-terms.

As always, Thomas Sowell had it right when he quipped: "Donald Trump is a wild card. We don't know whether he was play-acting when he carried on like a juvenile lout or when he played the role of a mature adult. But he and the country could both benefit from some serious introspection on his part." The fact that Trump is not conservative on many issues (and has changed political parties almost as frequently as George Steinbrenner used to change baseball managers) means congressional Republicans will have their work cut out for them if he heads out of bounds and needs to be brought back between the lines. If that happens, I hope they are up to the task.

The Dichotomy
And now, back to the more enjoyable pastime of chuckling about liberalism's double standards.

In the days leading up to November 8th, and for much of November 8th itself, the Democrat Media Complex was openly fretting about whether Donald Trump and his voters would peacefully "accept" the results of the election. Obviously the DMC assumed Clinton was going to win.

But when the assumption didn't pan out, liberals took to the streets and started rioting in many of their enclaves, even supposedly laid-back Portland. In Chicago, a white man who rioters assumed had voted for Trump (he wore no Trump clothing and his car had no Trump stickers) was dragged from his car by a black mob and pummeled. Somehow the "Media" part of the DMC (and yes, I know there's really not a difference) went out of its way to call the riots "protests" and use the phrase "mostly peaceful" in every story about them.

If Trump had lost and any of his supporters behaved like that, do you think the DMC would have used the phrase the "mostly peaceful" to describe them? If a white mob in Wichita assaulted a black man on the assumption he voted for Clinton, do you think the DMC would be mostly mum about the incident, or do you think it would have trumpeted it in newspapers and news shows for weeks on end?

Speaking of whether the DMC would choose to trumpet a story or be mum about it, what do you think its choice would be if Trump had lost and then not appeared to address his supporters when the results were known... and then people who were in his presence had claimed that he was kept from public view because he went "into a rage" and "picked up objects and threw them at attendants and staff" and "began yelling, screaming obscenities, and pounding furniture" in a "psychotic drunken rage"?

Well, all of the above has been said about Election Night Hillary by people who are in a position to know. I don't know if the claims are true, which might be a good reason for the mainstream media (also known as the DMC) to have kept quiet about it... but do you really think they would be quiet if identical reports existed about Der Trumpster? Me either.

...the GOP should not settle for only an anti-media and pro-policy stance. It must take very public steps to disown the so-called alt-Right.

(Personally, I despise the term "alt-Right" because it describes people who are bigots and not conservatives and including the word "Right" in their moniker is an attempt to glue them to a movement where they don't belong. But I'm not gonna go down that alley right now because it's a whole 'nother blog post. Plus, the term has become so common and so convenient to use that I'm actually going to use it.)

Back to my point: The alt-Right consists of a small number of people, perhaps even vanishingly small, but there is no way to tell exactly how many there are or exactly who they are. After all, it's not like they register anywhere, and many of them don't use their own names when posting their vitriolic comments online. Plus, some of the worst "alt-Right" comments are posted not by conservatives, but by liberals who claim to be conservatives and then go on to say racist things because they know it will make conservatism look bad.

Some Republicans are probably tempted to assume that the alt-Right is just another media-created fiction cooked up to discredit conservatism and the GOP... but it is not fiction, as many prominent conservatives can attest after having been personally targeted for refusing to be silent about Trump's flaws.

The inability to measure the size of the alt-Right, and to know who belongs to it, understandably makes millions of black people (and other minorities) nervous. Because alt-Right voters voted mostly for Trump (and those who didn't vote for Trump probably went for a motley mix of write-in and third party candidates) this is the GOP's problem to deal with. Exclusively the GOP's problem. And the GOP must deal with it rather than put its head in the sand.

I suspect that Steve Bannon, in his heart of hearts, is not the deplorable bigot many of his critics make him out to be. But I also believe that people like Ben Shapiro tell the truth, so I am inclined to believe what he wrote abut Bannon here, and I know that Breitbart News became sensationalist and unreliable after Andrew Breitbart died and Bannon took over -- so if we are going to purge the alt-Right, let's just say that a good way to start would be for Trump to change his mind about giving Bannon the position of Senior Counselor to the President.

The Electoral College
I have a lot to say about it and it deserves its own post. So instead of writing about it here, I'll write about it in the near future.

For now: Au Revoir!

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