Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The 2016 Election

I didn't see that coming. . . like all of the rest of the pundits.

It's been a wild election year.

Yesterday, Donald Trump won the Presidency.  I frankly thought that impossible.

As I noted here yesterday, I figured that the coronation of Hillary Clinton meant that her enthronement as President would merely need to be ratified yesterday.  I was sure off the mark, and badly so.

Well, a massive working class revolt against both parties happened.  After well over a decade of being lied to, they poked both parties in the eye.  

When this became inevitable or even probable is hard to say, but the Democrats deserve a lot of the blame or credit, depending upon your view, for trying to coronate a 1970s throwback that was widely despised.  Frankly, had Bernie Sanders been nominated by the Democrats he'd likely be yesterday's victor. But rather than do that, they went solidly with a candidate that nobody loved and who was consumed her entire life with politics.  Most people aren't consumed with politics and are disgusted with it right now. So the disgust flowed over onto her.

And the disgust was deserved.  Clinton had spent her entire life in politics in one way or another.  Her role in the Senate may have made sense to the people who voted for her, but to a lot of Americans elsewhere her relocation to New York appeared purely opportunistic.  Her association with her husband, who I never felt to be a bad President, left a bad taste in the mouths of a lot of people who recalled how she defended some of his bad personal conduct, and it further left people suspecting that her marriage had become a political wagon with a certain direction, whether that was right or wrong.  The Trump comment "such a nasty woman" struck the upper middle class and upper class elements of society as incredibly rude and sexists, but it sort of defined the way a lot of average people already viewed her.

Beyond that, and perhaps more significantly, she defined a certain 1970s view of the world that the Beltway Democrats have and which they deeply believe in, but which is not the same view held by huge segments of the Democratic base, let alone average Americans.  Existing as long ago as the 1920s, but coming up in the world following the disaster of Watergate, this world view virtually defines the Democratic Party's official outlook and has all but killed it off in rural areas which can find nothing to identify with in it.  This even translated to younger Democratic women who did not see a modern American female ideal that they felt any commonality with.  In turn, the old entrenched feminist in the Democratic Party were outright hostile to younger Democratic women whom they felt should shut up and take orders.

Everything combined meant that the Democratic Party nominated somebody who was deeply out of sync with the electorate. The GOP nominated one that was deeply despised indeed, but not in the same way that Clinton was.  We learned yesterday that there were a lot of Democrats and independents who had supported Sanders and detested Trump and Clinton, but forced into a choice, the populist message of Trump called more than the 1970s vision of Clinton.

But that also tells us that a large amount of the vote was based on absolute disgust.

And on to the entire system, quite frankly.

 Bea Arthur in an advertisement for Maud.  Arthur played the brash, loud, pants suit wearing feminist in two 1970s era television series.  For those who recalled it, Clinton tended to come across rather unfortunately as a character from Maud or at least from the era. Younger women never warmed up to her at all, and indeed people who weren't voting by the 1970s were left fairly cold.

Additionally, the late Democratic administration and things associated with it combined with things that have been brewing for a long time overwhelmed both parties.  It turns out that you cannot take in 1,000,000 immigrants a year and tell rust belt voters that they just need to adjust to the new economy, you can't tolerate shipping endless employers overseas and tell those voters that new better jobs will come, you can't tell people who can tell what gender they are actually in that people can determine their "own gender identify", and you can't threaten to reverse course on firearms possession when people have pretty much determined how they feel about that.

The voters who revolted are, no doubt, going to be accused of being racist.  But to desire the America they grew up in, which was more Christian, more employed, and more rural, doesn't make them that way.  The Democrats have been offering them Greenwich Village, the Republicans the Houston suburbs.  It turns out they like the old Port Arthur, Kansas City or Lincoln Nebraska better, and want to go back. That's not irrational.

Port Arthur Texas.  I listed to people discuss the upcoming election two weeks ago at the Port Arthur Starbucks and thought they'd really be surprised when Clinton was elected. Turns out, they were much more on the mark than I was.  And it turns out that people in Port Arthur like Port Arthur the way it was twenty or thirty years ago, and they don't like a lot of big, hip trendy urban areas that they're supposed to.

Will Trump be able to do that?

Well, any way you look at it, it's going to be an interesting four years.

Trump will have to act on his populist world view.  I'm certain that it will be only momentarily before the pundits will start opining about how Trump, now that he is the President Elect, will moderate his views, etc., but there is no reason whatsoever to believe that. So far, his entire behavior has been true to what appears to be his basic character. We can anticipate that he will continue to act that way. And an electorate that, essentially, voted to rip everything down wants it down.  I suspect, therefore, that's what we will get.

I also, quite frankly don't think that this is universally bad. As noted, I never supported Trump, and I did not vote for him yesterday.  I'm in the camp so disgusted by both political parties and their candidates that I could not bring myself to hold my note and vote like so many others did. But I do think that Trump will listen to the blue collar element of American society, and somebody needs to.  I do not think that this segment, which knows its being forced out of work by a combination of forces that are not of its own making, but which are more than a little the fault of policies favoring the wealthy, will be quiet.  Clinton would not really have done anything for those people other than to lament their status, Trump will have to do something.  And I also think that Trump will actually nominate justices to the Supreme Court who do not feel compelled to stick to it, such as Justice Anthony Kennedy or who have a social agenda that colors and informs their decisions.  Justices who decide the law are needed on the Court and I think they'll actually be appointed.

Who knows what else shall occur, however.

Locally, 818 Natrona County voters went for write in candidates, myself included, for President and Vice President.  That has to be a record.

And a warning.

If even here, in solidly Republican Natrona County, 818 voters said no to all the recognized parties, and that doesn't include those who voted for Johnson or Stein, something is really wrong  with the system.

Locally, Liz Cheney, Dick Cheney's locally repatriated Virginia daughter beat out Greene and has probably taken Wyoming's House seat in Congress for life, or at least until she wedges that into something else, which she almost certainly will.  The seat is the gift of two other candidates who were really from Wyoming and who destroyed each other, but who jointly took more votes in the primary than she did.  Hopefully she'll grow into her position and learn the lesson that the Democratic and Republican establishments did not on the national stage, that people love their local lives more than they do the big issues of any kind.  A local revolt with populist elements is brewing on these issues and it is not impossible that this will turn out to be a pain for politicians from this state who do not know which way the wind is blowing. While Cheney likely will hold her office no matter what, t his year did see a surprisingly resurgent Democratic Party in Wyoming and there is a growing and very active movement that's focused on public lands that isn't afraid of being very vocal.

More locally, Gerald Gay went down in defeat, a victim of statements he could not explain about women.  Gay was controversial in any event as he had sued fellow legislators and the Governor over matters recently and he may have been more set up to topple than people might have supposed.  His comments were inexplicable and did him in.  Dan Neal, whose campaign literature arrived in my mailbox every day for awhile, lost to Republican Jerry Obermuller.  In some ways, I think Neal may have been a victim of his supporters as his own mailings concentrated on public lands while his recent backers mailings urged support of him because of his support of abortion, LBGT rights and "reproductive health", which probably served to turn votes away from him. Being hugged enthusiastically by somebody who people doubt doesn't engender their support for you but Neal probably couldn't, maybe, have told them to shut up and go away, he was doing fine on his own.  Anyhow, at the close of his campaign the enthusiastic embrace by clearly left of center elements was probably just about as welcome as a big hug at your wedding reception from that lush of a girlfriend you never mentioned to your just married spouse.  Maybe he didn't know that.  Chuck Gray, young radio mouthpiece of the far libertarian right did get in, but the Democratic campaign against him was anemic.  I suspect that if Neal had contested with Gray, Neal would have won.  Todd Murphy, whose Facebook ravings brought attention to him in the press, did survive the sort of attention that Gay did not and ended up on the city council, to my enormous surprise.

The county commission was less surprising, with incumbents generally doing well.  A stable race, it seems.

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