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.
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.
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.
I’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!
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
The Senate is one of those situations where there is no easy answer for the gun voter. There are atrocious Republicans who deserve the boot, but we have to remember the Supreme Court factor on the Second Amendment issue. It gets complicated.
There has been debate here over the role Toomey plays in that calculation. While I held my nose and voted Toomey this year, I did withhold other support for him.
However, one seat that I’m really not sorry to see flip is Illinois – Mark Kirk. It’s not just because he was anti-gun to begin with. He decided to go piss on my other pet group with a blatantly racist attack. This wasn’t an SJW-defined racism that is really just a case of “you disagree with me!” type racism accusation. What Kirk did was make a judgement specifically attacking a woman because of how she looks based on half of her heritage.
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), seeking to unseat Sen. Mark Kirk (R) in Illinois, invoked her family’s military service while answering a debate question.
“My family has served this nation in uniform going back to the Revolution,” Duckworth said. …
Kirk was offered a chance to rebut. “I’d forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington,” he said.
Duckworth’s mother, Lamai, is Thai, but her late father, Franklin, was a Marine veteran whose family roots in this country trace to before the American Revolution.
From basic opposition research, he would have known she was a) a veteran who lost her legs serving her country, and b) from a family of veterans. That’s simply the basics you’re going to know since you’ll know she’s going to hit you on military issues. He didn’t have to know that she’s actually a member of DAR, but that’s not what he judged her on. He judged her based on just one half of her family history that’s visible in her skin tones and used it as an attack. That is racist. It’s also sloppy opposition research. He should have known she’s a member of DAR since she has spoken to the group and the Illinois state society did actually use her as a model for a statue honoring women who have served the country in our military. There is simply no defense for his statement at all.
Needless to say, that kind of attack reflects poorly on the whole party. Given that he was bad on guns anyway, I just can’t say that I’m sorry to see him go. Because Kirk clearly burned the bridge to his re-election, I made the decision on Toomey to help try and keep the Senate. To see someone booted who would sink as low as Kirk did in order to try and oust an opponent, I think I’m okay with my decision.
Let’s just say that it was interesting. We live in what’s considered a bellwether county in a swing state. Our voting location is rather unique because two precincts are divided into two rooms that are next to one another. One line is full of mostly apartment dwellers and the other mostly those who live in single family homes.
Because of the division, there end up being some observable demographic differences. In 2008, the line for the apartment folks was down the hall, down another hall, down a third hall and rounded back, and then out the door of the building. It is typically a very minority-heavy line. The line for the single family home neighborhoods is more white, and it really didn’t exist in 2008. In 2012, the apartment line was much shorter, though still long and largely minority. There was a line for the other precinct was one of the longer lines we’d ever seen there and mostly people with other family members.
How did these trends reflect in results? In 2008, well, Pennsylvania was never really in play and that showed. In 2012, our county went more red, the state was less solidly blue, and everything was a bit closer.
Today, the precinct for the apartments was still very long. However, unlike previous elections, there were a substantial number of white voters. I almost wasn’t sure which line we would be in because of the change in demographics. Regardless, we ventured down the hallway toward the precinct line that is practically non-existent just to make sure.
Then, shocking, we had a line. We had a line that went out into the hallway, turned a corner and snaked around, and then came back toward an entrance. It was still shorter than the other line, but wow. We had to wait half an hour. The guy behind us isn’t a regular voter, so he waited in the wrong line for an hour before he found out and still went waited in our line with a great attitude. I have no idea who he was voting for, but if demographics in polling mean anything this year – and I’m not sure how much they do in this area if I’m honest – then our line was pretty old, largely men and older couples voting together, and fairly pale skinned. The woman standing out with Democratic Congressional materials who we suspect came from New Jersey was looking very, very unhappy at the people coming in.
If there’s one rule that Sebastian and I share in this election is that we’re not making predictions. There have been too many surprises both nationally and locally. This definitely has to go down as one of the strangest election seasons I’ve ever lived through. I’ll be glad when it’s over.
There’s a lot of debate in a previous comment thread about whether or not people should or shouldn’t vote for Pat Toomey. I’ve been on this side of the argument many many times:
That’s fine. And when the Democrats take back the senate by one vote, and confirm Clinton’s anti-gun supreme court justices, you can pat yourself on the back about how ideologically pure you are.
I’m usually very pragmatic when it comes to politics. I’ve said before that George W. Bush came into office saying he’d sign a renewal of the Assault Weapons Ban, yet if we had stayed home because George wasn’t good enough, Heller would have lost, and McDonald never would have happened. We probably would not have PLCAA either, and gun control groups would still be trying to sue the industry out of existence. But what is a bridge too far? Toomey didn’t just vote against us on this one issue. He didn’t just offer lip service. He took a leadership role in trying to pass a gun control bill. After that, instead of staying quiet about it, he embraced Mike Bloomberg’s gun control groups whole heartedly. Hell, most politicians will at least give us lip service around election time, and Toomey won’t even do that.
But that’s not to say I’m unsympathetic to the larger picture, and I’m skeptical Toomey will undervote enough to really send a message. Even if he does undervote, will the GOP credit the gun owners? Or will they bury their heads in the sand and come up with some other bullshit reason Pat went down? I firmly believe that the only way to conclusively send a message via the vote is to defeat an incumbent in a primary, because the primary opponent can carry the message. A big reason I’ve been writing about this is because I want it on record out there that a lot of gun owners are pissed off that Pat Toomey has embraced Mike Bloomberg’s agenda. I’m ordinarily willing to make pragmatic votes, but every “common sense gun control” ad I see for Pat Toomey (and I see them on Facebook, where his idiot people have demo targeting tools that could exclude gun voters) pushes me further over the bridge too far. I do have my limits on what I can tolerate in the name of the big picture.