This Great Election

This is the first election day since 1992 that I’ve really enjoyed. 1992’s election was exhilarating and in many ways a set up for this one. Bill Clinton back then gave a master class in how far a politician could go if he lacked shame and had a message the voters cared about. In 2000, I thought Gore ran a poor campaign over the summer, and the recount was a little too much evidence that our court system is just a reinforcement of our political system. I was just pleased it was close.

2008 radicalized me. I didn’t mind Hillary much back then (she was against driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, remember that quaint old restriction?), and the media’s anvil on the scale for Obama in both the primaries and the general was just nauseating.

I quit watching or reading about politics from late October 2008 to the Obamacare fights of 2009. And when I came back to it, I stopped trusting any media. Going on Twitter in 2012 further reinforced my understanding that even the ones who write in a seemingly neutral and unbiased style are, in fact, predictably liberal with tremendous disdain for half the electorate. For a news junkie living squarely in the mainstream, this comes as an unhappy shock.  (This time around, Sean Trende and Jack Shafer, two of my favorites, have been the most disappointing re the disconnect between the bias in their tweets and their carefully cleaned up columns, Josh Kraushaaer the one I still have illusions about so dammit Josh, don’t screw it up. Michael Goodwin, Mickey Kaus, and Byron York have, in their various ways, been solid gold treasures.)

Anyway. One thing I did learn from 2008 was that outside of progressives, white voters aren’t very interested in the presidential election issues. It’s been clear to me for a while that the public, particularly the GOP base, was not getting the candidates or the issues they wanted. Two elections in a row, I thought it likely that white voters were staying home, not bothering. Two elections in a row, I thought that the GOP was ignoring its voters in favor of ideas that no one really wanted–from immigration to education to social issues to entitlements. (I never thought of trade, sorry.)

Then came the 2012 autopsy, in which the GOP said hey, we need outreach to Hispanics in order to win back the presidency. Not to blacks. Noooo, the much-vaunted Party of Lincoln didn’t even think of blacks, didn’t think to find the common ground between their base of working class whites and the many blacks (and non-immigrant Hispanics). No notion of using immigration restriction as a uniter. Nope. Their money men wanted cheap labor, and they all figured that the 2012 loss could be used as rationale to argue against the base’s desire for restriction.  “See, we’d love to end H1B visas and implement e-verify, but we gotta do outreach!”  Because that’s how you grow the economy, with lots of businesses making money off of cheap labor. Good for the stock market. Meanwhile, of course, the GOP wanted to double down on blaming schools for failing to educate kids–that’s why they need immigrant labor, because teachers suck!

So I wasn’t excited about 2016, what with all the talk about another Bush, hints of returning to the autopsy plan, even after Rubio got his ears pinned back.

And then came Trump, down that damn escalator.

He never had to win to make me happy.  I wanted the message out there.  I wanted another politician to defy conventional wisdom, to refuse to step down or apologize, to insist that the people be given their choice. I wanted someone to show the popularity of issues the media and elites considered completely unthinkable, to force them into the debate. The Overton window has shifted feet–yards, even–back in the direction of sanity.

But GOP elites are trying to bargain their way out of reality. They  think fondly of a world where Rubio–the GOP’s version of bland, teleprompter-ready Obama–could have won if Kasich and Christie had dropped out because golly, he gave a good speech. Or Cruz–whose voice is so awful I change the channel when he shows up–could somehow win over enough swing voters.  Or they blame the media for giving Trump air time, forgetting that the airtime was devoted to blasting Trump for insensitivity, for “racism”, and demanding the public share their opinion. Instead he won more votes every time he refused to back down.

If you want to rebuild the GOP, start by asking a Trump voter what the key moment in his success was. Most will point to his refusal to apologize for his June 16 announcement. NBC dumped him. Univision fired him. And he didn’t back down. He didn’t play the game. He didn’t apologize, mend fences with the media. That was……well, huuuuge in the world of Trump’s base.  He snarled back, and got more popular.

What we’ve needed in America is someone willing to defy the media and the elite. Someone who had the money and message to succeed despite blasted disapproval. This forced the media and the GOP leadership to realize that all of their power relied on their ability to shut off the microphone. Take that ability away, they got nothing.

I don’t lionize Trump. I think he tried for years to win approval from the same elites who despise him now. I’m glad he chose to run. I’m glad he showed them, through the people, how wrong they were.

Because unless the polls are dramatically wrong in Clinton’s favor, Trump is not going to get destroyed. If he loses, it will be be a margin less than McCain, possibly less than Romney. With few ads and even fewer experts to advise him–the experts being the one class who still needs elite approval.

All he had was a message.

Next steps: win or lose, Trump voters need to see that class, not race, is the way to grow their ranks. This Sheryl Stolberg story on the decimated black working class that see no hope from Hillary but hate Trump–they’re the first step. I believe that African Americans can be convinced that our immigration policies are incredibly harmful to their interests: in jobs, in education, in reducing their political viability. Working class Hispanics, those of long-standing in this country, are also a great opportunity for actual outreach.

I’m not sure where it goes from here, because very few Republicans in media or leadership have any interest in rebuilding. Most of them believe that surgical removal of Trump voters is not only necessary, but simple. Laugh at them.

It’s all the meme these days for the media to talk about how horrible this election has been, how dispiriting it’s been to true believers in democracy and American greatness. That, again, is one reason why we all hate the media and elites, for failing to realize how exciting many of us are by the opportunity to vote our issues.

To all of you out there in Trumpland, I hope you share my sense of joy in this campaign. Watching everyone in power realize they had no power to stop Trump and his message.

If our side loses, it wasn’t because the media won the narrative. Entire publications were dedicated to convincing the public of Trump’s evil nature. They failed. They weren’t able to frame this election, because in their framing, Trump is unthinkable, a fascist racist misongynist who’ll start nuclear wars. But “unthinkable” doesn’t include close to half the country’s support.

If we lose, we’ll lose because we don’t yet have enough votes. Trump’s important qualities are alienating. I believe they were also essential. There was no moderating, no winning approval, that wouldn’t likewise end his ability to sell his message. And the conservative wing of the party has had it their way for so long that they can’t conceive of voting for a candidate they aren’t crazy about. That, too, was a non-negotiable constraint.

But moving forward, I believe this can be fixed. I believe the media  and the GOP will find it impossible to shut down these issues. I believe we’ll get more compelling candidates. I believe we’ll find a way to win more support.

If not, well, at least we had the chance to try.  That’s more chance than I ever expected.

Go Trump!

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About educationrealist


16 responses to “This Great Election

  • phillipmarlowe2terry

    I am sharing with others who wondered what happened.

  • Roger Sweeny

    Wow. Now he has to make you “education czar” 🙂

  • anonymousskimmer

    He’s had 70 years and billions of dollars, and never championed anyone but himself. He’s even let his own businesses fail and die, not just those which licensed the brand from him.

    Why does anyone think he’ll start acting differently?

    On a more serious note: I bet 10 anonymous dollars that if Trump pressures Mexico to pay for a wall that the Mexicans will elect a cartel leader as their president.

    • Roger Sweeny

      I am sure Trump now believes that he is acting in the interest of the country as a whole. He shares that belief with almost all politicians. That’s really not the question. The question–for him and for all politicians–is whether what he does will actually be for the good of the country.

  • kiraria3

    Setting aside any of Trump’s policies and beliefs, what about his intelligence level? Because I just find it very hard to believe that Trump is secretly a genius or something. I’m not talking about the fact that he doesn’t read books, more that his language skills–based on his very repetitive vocabulary and sentence structure–appear very poor.

    Since you’re a teacher, and are clearly intelligent yourself, I was just wondering if this has crossed your mind at all.

    I’m definitely biased in my view of Trump, as I don’t like him at all, but am I wrong that it’s possible that he has a below average IQ? Before you say my sample of average human intelligence is skewed by my elite bubble, I’ll just say that I grew up in a small rural town where college educated adults are very uncommon and the best job available was driving a school bus. I spent a lot of time around people who definitely fit the stereotypical Trump supporter (or redneck) profile and none of them came across as nearly unintelligent as Trump does.

    • anonymousskimmer

      1) He’s not from a small town or rural area, he’s from NYC.

      2) It’s quite possible to be twice exceptional. He also seems like the kind of person who will hold back from stating his actual perceptions (Enneagram type 8, self-preservation variant). Thus you just get the selling points.

      3) It’s quite possible to be 70 years old, smart, and ignorant as heck.

      I’d guess his IQ is at least 90, or he wouldn’t ‘speak to’ enough people to have been elected.

      • Powerlurker

        He was admitted to and graduated from Penn. His IQ is at least somewhat above average (>110). Ivy League schools don’t admit idiots.

      • anonymousskimmer

        @Powerlurker

        You’re likely right; I was giving a lower bound.

        An IQ of 90 is really approximately average, it is nowhere near idiot range.

        I will point out this, though: https://brainsize.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/the-iqs-of-academic-elites/

        “Actually a sample of Harvard students studied by Harvard psychologist Shelley Carson and her colleagues scored somewhat lower on an abbreviated version of the Wechsler intelligence scale:

        Eighty-six Harvard undergraduates (33 men, 53 women), with a mean age of 20.7 years (SD = 3.3) participated in the study. All were recruited from sign-up sheets posted on campus…The mean IQ of the sample was 128.1 points (SD = 10.3), with a range of 97 to 148 points”****

        Notice that lower data point.

        Shelley Carson didn’t graduate with her Ph.D. until this millennium, so these are all recent Harvard undergraduates.

        ‘Twice Exceptionality’ really is important! in the IQ space. (As is getting enough good rest the night before.)

        **** – Caveat from the website: “On the other hand the abbreviated WAIS may have underestimated Harvard students because it’s a very brief test, and thus gives only rough results.”

  • anonymousskimmer

    @ER https://twitter.com/i/web/status/797473187583795201

    I’d prefer ending birthright citizenship.

    If a child isn’t born in the US, and isn’t raised in the US, why would we want them in the US? They haven’t been exposed to our values, and odds are, outside of Mexico or Canada, they’ve been raised in a country which has a monarch as head of state. How can that be a good example for a US citizen?

    Tweets like the one you retweeted would make me seriously consider buying a gun and rifle, if I could afford them. I don’t trust that those who say “I don’t like what you say, but I’ll defend your right to say it” would actually keep their word, much less defend the other rights entrenched in the Constitution.

    “If it is necessary, hey”

    It wouldn’t matter if it was necessary. Most people aren’t rational, or empathetic, on most matters. Thinking they would be so is, I think, a partial blindspot of yours.

  • Celebrating Trump in a Deep Blue Land | educationrealist

    […] Tuesday morning he was sure Trump would win. I had smiled, told him I hoped he was right, secretly thinking I’d be pleased if he kept it close. “I doubted. You called it.” We bumped fists. “I’ll stop by later,” […]

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