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Currently Browsing: 2016 Election

Defecting Electors are the System Working

I’m pretty confident that despite a few electors making noises about switching their vote, that Donald Trump will still occupy the Oval Office by the end of January. But people on the left and right are going nuts over this. To the extent that electors are receiving threats, that’s beyond the pale, but I have no problem with trying to influence electors to switch their vote through peaceful means. I also don’t have issues with electors actually switching their vote. While it’s not a popular position today, I’m a huge proponent of the Electoral College, for the following reasons:

  • It gives a voice to smaller states that would otherwise be completely irrelevant in National Politics. And yes, I’m OK with rural people having outsized influence. Why? Because city folks don’t understand or care about rural folks, and without rural folks, city folks starve. I think protecting their interests from a dismissive and smug majority that doesn’t understand them is important.
  • It prevents variability in the election system from bringing the results into doubt. There was a lot of “selected, not elected” talk after Bush v. Gore in 2000, but there was never any legal doubt about Bush being a legitimate President because the Electoral College is the lawful body that elects the President. Likewise, a close popular vote count would be far more consequential, bring dozens of state electoral systems under the microscope.
  • The Electoral College is a final check against the people doing something extremely rash. Given the horrible choices in this election, I don’t feel too bad about a few electors going faithless. That lets me know the Electoral College might not actually rubber stamp a real Hitler or Mussolini. Hillary and Donald Trump were awful candidates, but I don’t believe either of them are potential dictators. I don’t think this election rises to the level of the Electoral College thwarting the will of the people, but a bit of controversy, from my point of view, isn’t unwelcome.

I suspect there’s going to be a lot of call for abandoning the Electoral College, but that would establish a true, national election. In every other instance in federal elections, we vote as states. I don’t think the Electoral College is an anachronism, and it’s an important buffer between the people and the Presidency. It may be that Hillary won the popular vote, but that is relatively meaningless, since the campaign strategy to win in a majority vote system would be very different from the system we have. It’s impossible to know whether Hillary Clinton would have won the popular vote if we were a 50%+1 takes it kind of system. I think we ought to keep the Electoral College in place.

Crying Wolf

I think this blog post deserves a share. I tend to agree:

This, I think, is the first level of crying wolf. What if, one day, there is a candidate who hates black people so much that he doesn’t go on a campaign stop to a traditionally black church in Detroit, talk about all of the contributions black people have made to America, promise to fight for black people, and say that his campaign is about opposing racism in all its forms? What if there’s a candidate who does something more like, say, go to a KKK meeting and say that black people are inferior and only whites are real Americans?

We might want to use words like “openly racist” or “openly white supremacist” to describe him. And at that point, nobody will listen, because we wasted “openly white supremacist” on the guy who tweets pictures of himself eating a taco on Cinco de Mayo while saying “I love Hispanics!”

When you spend years saying nearly everything is racist or sexist, then nothing is racist or sexist. Jonah Goldberg, a card carrying Never Trumper, also think this accusation is being taken too far. Charles C.W. Cooke, another NRO Never Trumper also speaks badly of all this hyperbole.

Take Trump giving Steve Bannon a place in his Administration as Chief Strategist, something I think people should rightly be concerned about. But from everything I hear from the left, he sounds like the reincarnation of Joseph Goebbels. I respect Ian Tuttle’s take on this. Also read Ben Shapiro’s take on Bannon, since he worked for him and quit under unfriendly circumstances. This should legitimately be very worrisome. But it’s hard to convince people. In a world where everyone who disagrees is Hitler, then no one is Hitler. I don’t think Trump is going to bring Nazism or Fascism to America. I think such claims are overwrought. But there are warning signs that things need to change in our rhetoric. Trump might not be Hitler, but continuing down the current path risks the rise of a real one, and if that day comes, the people warning about it will be ignored.

The Ant Farm Election

Long before emojis hit the Internet, I used to help run a MUD where we had what were called emotes, and one of them was called “Ant Farm” which went something like:

You point out that the MUD is just like a giant ant farm, and that the most entertainment can be derived from taking the whole thing and shaking the hell out of it every once in a while, watching as the various creatures struggle to preserve their fragile, pointless existence.

That is this election in a nutshell! I’ve been watching memes going around both left and right, but mostly left. The right people have mostly gone back to their normal lives. The big thing I’m seeing from lefties is all the walk backs Trump has been taking.

OK…. so what’s the problem here? He’s moving center after winning the election. This is what I’d hoped he’d do. I’m not completely happy with the transition team, but it’s mostly people who know how to get things done in Washington. It’s a signal Trump’s not necessarily going to be the whack job President myself and a lot of people feared. Sure, he’s still got 4 years to prove me wrong, and I’m sure he’s going to do things I don’t like, but every President has done things I don’t like. I’ll argue against those when he does them. A lot of lefties are asking conservatives to speak out against Trump’s hate now, presumably so they can feel a smug sense of self-satisfaction when they hear crickets. Screw them. I never saw any of them object when Obama trolled and gas lighted half the people in this country. You are part of what helped make this shit pile, so as far as I’m concerned you can sit there and smell it the next four years like the rest of us will.

It’s almost like they really believed that nonsense about Republicans never being able to win the White House again. I can believe that because I had people seriously argue that with me. It’s almost like they didn’t recognize that every once in a while, every party will float a dog turd of a candidate for President.

If there’s one thing I wish people on the left would recognize, and actually a lot of the old-school liberals and more honest lefties do: Hillary Clinton was a terrible candidate. She is the worst candidate for President I’ve ever seen in my lifetime (and I lived through Dukakis). She is so bad, she lost to Donald Trump. That’s how bad she was. She has all of the faults of her husband with none of his charms. As Megan McArdle put it:

She had two cadences: “fifth grader reading their essay about the water cycle to the whole class”; and “I’m coming in there in thirty seconds and I’d better see all of you cleaning that room!” This despite what we must assume was heroic and patient work by the best speech coaches in the business. The only tool she had for emphasis was sounding outraged; her resting speech face wavered between “bored” and “peeved”.

In politics, it doesn’t do a bit of good to put a candidate up for a seat who validates all your best hopes, aspirations, and ideas for the country, if that candidate is constitutionally incapable of winning.

 

Trump in Historical Context

The Trump phenomena isn’t anything this country hasn’t seen before:

The election of Donald Trump was a surprise and an upset, but the movement that he rode to the presidency has deep roots in American history. Mr. Trump’s strongest supporters are the 21st-century heirs of a political tendency that coalesced in the early 1820s around Andrew Jackson.

Old Hickory has been the despair of well-bred and well-educated Americans ever since he defeated the supremely gifted John Quincy Adams in the 1828 presidential election. Jackson’s brand of populism—nationalist, egalitarian, individualistic—remains one of the most powerful forces in American politics. The Republican Party’s extraordinary dominance in this election demonstrates just how costly the Democrats’ scornful rejection of “hillbilly populism” has been.

Read the whole thing. I’m pretty sure I would have been an Adams supporter in the election of 1828 had I lived at the time. But I don’t think Trump is anything new or scary. I don’t think he’s Hitler, and I don’t think he’s a fascist. To the extent he’s an authoritarian, it’s not a version of authoritarianism that’s foreign to the American character. I don’t like it, but I don’t think it’ll be the end of the country either. Some fast Trump facts, unrelated to above, but that I think are interesting:

  • He is the only person to ever win the presidency with no prior government service or having held no elected office. We’ve elected a lot of generals with no political experience, like Ike and Grant, but it could be argued that leading the Allied Forces and Army of the Potomac was a harder job than being president.
  • He is the oldest person to ever take office. Reagan previously held that record. However his father lived into his 90s, and his mother nearly made it to 90, so he’s got that going for him.
  • He is the most immigrant president we’ve ever had. Seriously, it’s true. Most members of the President’s Club are cousins to each other, because their families have all been here forever. People threw a lot of birther nonsense at Obama, with accusations of being less than American, but while Obama’s father was Kenyan, his mother’s line has deep roots in the USA. He is a distant cousin to Bitter, and several other US Presidents. Trump is the grandson of German immigrants, and the son of a Scottish immigrant. He has the most immigrant background of any US President. Let the irony of that sink in a bit.
  • He is the first President to have a First Lady who is an immigrant. The only other President that comes close is John Quincy Adams, whose wife Louisa was born in London, but to American (colonial at the time) parents. He is the first President who has a First Lady who speaks English as a second language.
  • He’s the first President who’s been married three times. Three others have been married twice.
  • He is our first President whose alma mater is the University of Pennsylvania. I’m sure they are so proud down there!
  • The state that has produced the most Presidents is New York, and Donald Trump will take the number of Presidents whose home state is New York from 6 to 7, topping out Ohio. He joins Martin Van Buren, Millard Filmore, Grover Cleveland (elected twice), Chester Arthur, Theodore Roosevelt, and Franklin Roosevelt. However, only Donald Trump and Theodore Roosevelt were born in and raised in New York City.
  • He is the first Republican to take Pennsylvania in a Presidential race since George H.W. Bush in 1988.

Philly Burbs Liked Romney Better

Maybe my gut instinct wasn’t as bad as I thought. Take a look at this handy map from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

burbvoting

I grew up in that little sliver of Delco that flipped from Romney to Trump. I now live in the blue part of Bucks County. It’s not unsurprising to me that where I grew up flipped Trump. There’s a lot of working class union guys in that area, but they vote more independently of their unions if the candidate is right. Bucks County union guys, on the other hand, seem more inclined to vote with their union leaders, which you can see in Lower Bucks remaining blue. The solid blue places in Delco near the city are formerly white working class and were, as of a few decades ago, reliably Republican. As more people have moved out of the city, it’s gotten more solidly Democratic. That’s the part you see up against the city.

Montgomery County are almost all upper-middle class to stinking rich folks, not turning red until it gets farther out form the city. I’m not surprised there hasn’t been much change there. But the blue definitely pushed farther out.

In Bucks, Lower Makefield and Doylestown Township both flipped from Romney to Hillary. The parts of the Main Line that are upper-middle class to filthy rich all flipped from Romney to Hillary (that’s the dark blue part which you see going through Chester County, with the blue part actually following the rail line which built the Main Line). Chester County as a whole went blue this election, which they did for Obama once, but not a second time.

Across all the ring counties, the places that switched have one thing in common: lots of highly educated, upper middle class white people. The filthy rich neighborhoods have been blue since the first Clinton left office, and the suburban GOP political machines fell apart.

Pennsylvania didn’t go red because the burbs liked Trump. It went red because turnout in Philly wasn’t as high as the Dems needed to outvote the rest of the state, and the people in the T, who have been absent for a while now, actually turned out to vote this time. If trends in the ring counties continue, Pennsylvania will continue to solidify as a blue state, with the GOP getting less and less competitive in the suburbs. You T people better keep turning out if you want to keep your gun rights.

We’re All Racists Now

all socialists nowI’m sure you all remember the cover appearing to the left that Newsweek ran after the 2008 victory of Obama. Now after Trump, the dominant meme seems to be, “we’re all racists now.” Or at least those Americans who voted for Donald Trump.

There’s been a lot of naval gazing since Trump’s unexpected win. I’ve read a lot of it, both on the left and the right. Some of it is quite insightful, and some of it is dreck. I do not believe the Trump phenomena can be explained by racism, and the people who are arguing that are looking for both easy answers, and an emotionally smug sense of self-satisfaction. But that’s not to say race, or rather tribe, doesn’t play a role.

We are programmed to be tribal. Without civilization, we’d be eating the brains of our vanquished neighbors, barking at the moon and throwing virgins into active volcanoes. Civilization is the process of establishing a social order that tames our more basal instincts, allowing us achieve greater things together than we could as tribes. But our instinct is toward tribalism. There is no escaping that. The leftist notion that some people are immune to this is delusional. Not only can everyone be prejudiced against people who are different, everyone is to some degree, even if you recognize it as a flaw you need to work on. There are white people who are racist. There are non-white people who are racist too. The demands of our civilization insist, justifiably, that we put that kind of thinking aside for the greater good. But in order to do that, we need to start with the base assumption that prejudice and bigotry are basic human failings that no one is immune to.

Which brings me back to the Trump voter. There are, assuredly, Trump voters who are raging bigots, the same as there are for Hillary voters. Leftists will deny this, and when you press them, you’ll find the answer is they believe certain groups are immune from this kind of thinking, because they have perceived ‘victim’ status. The Trump voter is tired of the progressive left shitting on them all the while telling the world it’s OK, because theirs doesn’t stink. If you ask me, that’s probably the biggest thing that’s powering the Trump Train.

The second thing is that the establishment conservative movement allowed the left to convince them that displaying concern about immigration was tantamount to racism. This is nonsense. Yes, there are people who would like to build a wall and deport all the illegals because they are bigots that hate Mexicans. I won’t deny it. But there are plenty more people who fear open borders not because they are afraid of Mexicans as human beings, but because they are scared about how they’ll vote once they gain citizenship. They aren’t racist bigots, they just understand the Democrats end game on this. They’ve been witnessing it for the past decade.

Democrats want open borders because for the some reason Trump’s coalition fears them: because they see those votes as a means to give Progressive leftists more power. Bring in large numbers of new voters who will have a rough time getting started in a new country, lavish them with benefits paid for by the taxpayers to ensure they are dependent on that largesse, prevent them from integrating into their new country. Why? Because when immigrants do well, they start voting to keep what they’ve earned and that’s no good.

When people talk about the economic reasons for the Trump phenomena, I’m pretty convinced what I described above is the main economic anxiety. The left will argue it’s a racist anxiety, and I think that’s nonsense. Racial division wasn’t quite so bad eight years ago. Now, all the racial division you’re seeing has been ginned up because it would be utterly disastrous for the Dem coalition if we started talking to each other, instead of screaming. Hell, then people might start to realize they get each other. It might start healing and understanding, and we can’t have that. Because their power depends on us being set against each other. It depends on thinking people different from you are monsters.

I know a lot of lefties out there who will think this is self-satisfied nonsense, but I don’t think it is. The GOP coalition has its own set of pathologies, but that’s for another post. If, as a lefty, you’re really interested in healing and togetherness, you’ll clean up your party. Throw trash like Bob Creamer to the curb where they belong. Try to be more aware of people using division as a political weapon. Obama was a master at this, and it was horrible for most of the country. Good chance we’ll have four more years of that, only from the right. And who can blame them? They learned from the best!

Enjoy This

Well, Mr. Obama:

trumppresidentelect

If you’re going to do a mic drop like that, you better be damned sure. As it is, his arrogance got the better of him.

More Predictions I Wish I Had Shared

Jim Geraghty is a regular read for me, and he notes: “Let’s begin with the obvious: I did not see that coming.” I need to start going with my gut more often, but I’m reluctant to make public predictions when the data is all over the place. I liked Glenn Reynolds “It’s 2016, anything can happen” schtick. But my prediction to Bitter a few weeks ago was “He’s going to tear through the rust belt, because he’s speaking their language. His supporters that think he has a shot at New York are nuts. Upstate will go Trump handily, but they can’t outvote New York City. If the T region of our state turns out, Trump has a shot at Pennsylvania. He could win it. The working class guys love him. They won’t listen to their unions.” I thought there was a decent chance Trump might lose a few unexpected western states that might possibly cost him the election, despite tearing through the rust belt states. Trump’s style seems more offensive to westerners. Trump lost Nevada, but the rest of the west held except for the states Republicans can’t ever win in.

I thought that Mitt Romney would have been the type of Republican Pennsylvanians would vote for, because when I was a kid growing up, he was. But most of those old time “good government” Republicans, the Rockefeller Republicans, are now Democratic voters. They are gone from the GOP. Trump won on the backs of rust belters who feel their best days are behind them. Those people used to vote Democratic, but now feel justifiably abandoned by the party. They were never very warm to Republicans either, which is why turnout was a problem until Trump. I believe Trump’s coalition shows a way forward for Republicans, if they can understand Trump’s liabilities while understanding his victory as well. What kind of candidate would it take to keep those voters turning out?

To All the Gun Voters Who Worked Hard: Thank You

I spent a lot of time and effort trying to convince people, despite serious flaws in their record on the gun issue, to vote for John McCain and Mitt Romney. I thought Barack Obama was going to be a disaster for gun rights, and he very nearly was! I don’t regret what I did, because we’d be 7-2 on the Second Amendment right now on the Supreme Court if McCain had won. I feared one of the Heller Five would not make it to the end of an Obama second term, and I was right. I did not expect the GOP to grow a pair and block Obama from putting a third Justice on the Court, but thank God they did. Even if the best McCain could do is Papa Bush, we’d at least be 6-3, which is a better place to be than 5-4.

But I can’t ask people to do something I am not willing to do myself, and I just couldn’t work up enough enthusiasm to shill for Trump, and my down ticket races were Toomey and Fitzpatrick. A lot of people were enthusiastic for Trump, and did the necessary and often unenjoyable ground work needed to win elections. The future of the Second Amendment will probably owe them a debt of gratitude. I’m sorry I could not join you this time, but I will continue to do what I can to fight the good fight in a future of hopefully better candidates.

I do not trust Trump, but hopefully he at least knows where his bread is buttered and gives us some decent Supreme Court picks. I am hopeful he’ll be a better President than I expect. The people have spoken! God help us, they have spoken.

Good Night for Gun Voting

If the today me went back in time a year and told the last year me we will elect Donald Trump President, the last year me would have worried at what point in the next year I will develop a severe drinking problem. That would be doubly the case if I had told last year me that the Republican candidate would turn Pennsylvania red. There is now some hope that we can replace Scalia with someone who is strong on the Second Amendment, and that is damned important. Let’s look at the winners and losers from a gun rights point of view:

Winners

  • The background check issue can no longer be credibly claimed to be a 90% issue. Really, it couldn’t after Washington State, but at this point it’s too close to call in Nevada and Maine. Looks like it will barely eek by in Nevada and be defeated, again barely, in Maine. Bloomberg spent a metric shit ton of money on these, and the best he could manage is a nail biter. People will tell pollsters anything that makes them feel good. When people actually weigh the policy implications of ending all private sales of firearms, they aren’t nearly as enthusiastic. This is a mixed bag for Bloomberg, but I think he’ll keep trying.
  • The NRA. They dumped a ton of money into running ads for Trump and helping with getting our people to turn out. The NRA hats I saw in line at my polling place tells me we were out there. Trump owes us big time, and we had better make sure he remembers that.
  • Pat Toomey eked out a victory, but his margin was smaller than Trumps. People did undervote! I think we would have been better off if he had lost, but hopefully he’ll “come back to Jesus,” so to speak. Bloomberg pretty clearly cost him votes.
  • Pennsylvania Dems. The top of the ticket, Trump and Toomey, might have won, but the GOP lost all the other state wide races. This tells me that Pennsylvania went red because of Trump, not because of any major shift in the electorate. Further, a lot of those people who voted for Trump either split their tickets, or only voted for Trump.
  • Brian Fitzpatrick. He replaces his brother, Mike Fitzpatrick in the seat for PA-08. I am not pleased that he only rated B from NRA, but Santarsiero wanted to ban semi-automatic firearms, and go door to door. Screw that carpetbagger! He can go back to New Jersey if he wants a second political career. The other ring county GOP congressmen all retained their seats. Pat Meehan is no great friend to us, but no great enemy either, and won re-election. Ryan Costello, however, retained his seat, though that district is such a gerrymandered monstrosity, so it’s hard to argue that’s really a ring county district. No other upsets in the Pennsylvania Congressional delegation.

Losers

  • The State of California is a lost cause. Their gun control ballot initiative won comfortably. That initiative instituted background checks for ammunition purchases and banned magazines holding more than ten rounds.
  • Washington State voted for the Bloomberg initiative by what looks like a healthy margin. This initiative implements “Gun Violence Restraining Orders” which allow people to have their rights taken away by anyone who is willing to testify that a person is off their rocker. Expect Bloomberg to bring this to other states via ballot.
  • Hillary Clinton. Oh, her tears are sweet. I am skeptical of the orange one, but I will enjoy this. Never in my life have I seen a candidate so worthy of losing. She’s an awful politician, and I mean that in the way if I said you were a good politician, it at least would mean I admire your talents in getting 50%+1 people to think you’re not such a bad person. How bad is Clinton? She lost to Donald Effin Trump. That’s how bad she is! She ran on gun control as a major centerpiece of her platform and it did not help her.
  • Gun control as a winning issue for the Democrats. Seriously guys, it’s a stinker. Put Bloomberg in the corner and you’ll be a lot better off. I actually have a pretty open mind about things, and I’m a very reluctant Republican. But I won’t vote for any candidate that supports the kind of crap your candidates have been peddling. Seriously, stop listening to Bloomberg and Obama. They are a big part of the reason you have ended up here!

Feel free to share more winners and losers in the comments! Obviously I don’t follow every local race or issue.

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