Three weeks have passed since the election, and I have seen enough postmortems to get the gist of them; however important points get missed systematically. This has been the most broadly satirical election that I can remember and I hope someone makes a comedy out of it because there’s so much material, and one of my biggest disappointments in the three weeks since the vote has been the level of coverage of even the most insignificant details like how does Donald Trump have his steak cooked and how dare he ditch the press for a night out with his family.
Many people get close to where I think the election really took a turn towards crazy-town when they address the leaks about the rigging of the Democrat primaries, but those leaks only told people who followed events what we already knew. The entire process was a sham from the beginning, and Hillary Clinton a candidate appointed before any primaries held. The system for electing a US President is notoriously byzantine but it has evolved to serve important purposes and does its job pretty well. In many democratic countries elections, particularly national elections, elections typically get held in multiple rounds. If no party or candidate gets the majority of votes in the first round (a very common occurrence) then a second one is held between the top two from round number one. This helps prevent certain systemic failures of the process which can result in a government by a party which is entirely unpalatable to the majority of voters because the opposition was too split up. The other major way such systems get resolved is through coalition governments (more normal where the country is run by say a prime minister). The US election functions by narrowing the candidates down to two (effectively), but this places great importance on the nominating process. I should note that no election system ever devised lacks flaws particularly in giving victory to what’s called (sorry for getting pretentious here) a Condorcete Candidate or the person who would have beaten anyone else in a one on one match-up.
The Republicans, through no great skill, seized the initiative months before their primaries through vigorous debates. Their great problem came from too many choices, so many that they had multiple tiers to the debates which ended up sidelining candidates who probably stood a better chance in the general election than many of the establishment Republicans in the general election. Despite that flaw the debates and bickering and wild claims created drama and drew attention, but they also showed what issues resonated and what styles worked. It was really too bad Rand Paul did not make it to the big boy’s table since he would have posited many personal liberty issues some of which other candidates would likely have picked up on and used. One things which became clear early on was that this was an anti-establishment cycle and Jeb Bush (who would have simply walked into the nomination if the Republicans handled their primaries the way the Democrats handled theirs) showed weakness from very early on.
Ted Cruz for the most part dominated the debates, but in a crowded field name recognition counts for even more. A curious thing this time around about all the demonizing of Fox News (who I have not followed in some years), yet in the debates they drew the most blood from the Donald. The debate Megan Kelly hosted early on was lauded for asking the right tough questions and caused a small feud between Trump and parts of a network from which he generally got the most support. This actually repeated (to an extent) at the end of the election with Chris Wallace hosting the debate between Trump and Hillary and the moderator getting almost unanimously hailed as vastly superior to the two which came before. In both cases specifics on issues caused the real problems for Trump.
By contrast the Democratic Party had chosen their nominee well before the race even started and they did everything to ensure a win, and that made it so very few people paid much attention to their race. Even the obvious signs of collusion (some delegates were decided by coin toss, and Hillary won every single one of those) mostly drew yawns since they would have no lasting affect on a fixed contest. Having superdelegates was no longer enough. Someone like Jim Webb could have steered them away from the lunatic fringe of neo-Marxism which has increasingly come to dominate the party. This lunacy really struck home when Bernie Sanders went all in on white-privilege theory by declaring that white people can’t be poor:
Much later on Clinton even swore to establish implicit bias training for all federal workers (I can only imagine how many more hours this would mean for groups like the National Guard to be kept away from anything even resembling training in addition to all the other PC presentations we have to do). That was one of those moments where a better candidate than Trump could have scored huge points since it would have been such a costly waste of time.
Giving credit where it is due, many on the left have grown disgusted by the primacy of identitarian politics and the loss in the election has greatly accelerated this disillusionment; however we still don’t know if that will lead to a broader course correction for the party or schisms from it. To Bernie Sander’s immense credit he’s one of those talking about the need to move away from identity politics. It’s no small thing that the Rust-Belt largely flipped camps in total breach from traditional patterns.
Worse than fixing their own race we know thanks to part to Wikileaks that many of the later attacks on Trump were well known from very early on, but they were held back by the MSM dreaded the idea of Hillary running against anyone but Trump. So the level of collusion between the MSM and the Democratic Party helped create not just one rotten final choice, but both of them. The situation is absurd to the point where the two most disliked candidates in history ended up as the nominees, and that is certainly a weakness of the primary process which normally serves effectively as the first round of voting. When well done I consider this a better system since it encourages participation beyond the voting once every four years kind. The final failure which cinched Trump the nomination was the recalcitrance of the broader Republican field even beyond the first couple primaries which should have narrowed it to just him and maybe three others. Rand Paul, again, had passionate supporters unlikely to jump to another candidate lightly, so him sticking around a little while was understandable, but some of these guys stayed in so long that I think Trump must have somehow manipulated them into it.
Maybe I’ll write another blog about the latter part of the election, but I hope I remember other things to waste my time with I’ll more likely write obliquely about the weakening of PC culture, but the primaries served a good example of order vs chaos and the flaws of too much control over too little. The control side (or maybe I should specify sides since the Republican establishment also helped screw the pooch) played with too many elements they, in their hubris, thought they could control–and by providing Trump with constant coverage they helped create a monster who could not be constrained by the traditional methods. I expected Trump would win (I felt about ~66% certain) from well before the end (not an endorsement), and I will always remember the lag on election night where by 8:30pm Pacific Time (11:30 Eastern) anyone could tell it was effectively in the bag but the people who failed to predict the outcome (and now claim to be able to predict everything that will happen going forward) could not admit to what unfolded right in front of them. It was almost cosmic irony that Hillary Clinton many times pushed herself as the person you want answering an emergency call at 2 am (a claim she continued to push even after her incompetence in dealing with Benghazi) and it finally ended just after 2 am– yet Clinton showed her lack of nerve by failing to lose gracefully. She could not even issue a proper statement (or even appear in public) for several hours. Obviously she was in no condition to handle the situation.
One of the worst things about all this was the Libertarian Party ending up with Gary Johnson who was neither electable nor much of a libertarian in large part because he’s well established in their party. This could have so easily been their year, but they dropped the ball.
Final thought: so far, and in a pleasant surprise, in contravention of the MSM coverage claiming an already fallen apart incoming administration Trump has in a brisk (and even businesslike manner) put together a cabinet far faster than is typical. That the MSM continue to fail in their coverage of this to look at anything in a substantial way the same way they failed for the whole campaign does not bode well for some of their stated hopes to improve themselves going forward. They continue to fall for the same crap in the same ways…