BEN'S ASSESSMENT AND SUMMARY OF THE CAMPAIGN OUTCOMES
In the midst of one of the most divisive elections in more than 40 years, President Trump stepped to the podium to give his first Presidential address. Conventionally Presidential Inaugurals follow four expectations:
1. unite the nation after an inevitably divisive campaign season,
2. reaffirm traditional values,
3. set forth principles of the new administration, and
With charismatic flourish that is already synonymous with the rhetoric of Donald Trump, President Trump set aside those expectations and delivered a proto-patriotic speech that extended his campaign vision into the inaugural setting. The speech provided a momentary touch toward unity by affirming President Obama’s help in the transition. There was no mention of his campaign opponent Hillary Clinton-- which is common in these speeches.
Trump’s principles-- which were evident in this speech-- were essentially reduced to the proto-patriotic concept of a government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people.’ Trump promised in an emphatic unflourished manner that the government would be returned to the people. In this respect, the genre breaking speech given by Trump most resembled the inaugural of President Ronald Reagan in 1981. In that speech, Reagan explained that government was not the solution and rather was the problem. That sentence delivered emphatically tended to define that abrupt ideological change from President Carter to President Reagan. That same reaction of 1981 was apparent in Trump’s inaugural and offered without the temperance of a speechwriter. In his own words, Trump delivered a trumpet blast against the political establishment and for a pre-partisan world: America beyond political parties. He promised governance that would return power to the people without regard to party. In this respect, there was some appreciation of the limits of power by suggesting that he was accountable to the ‘people.’
President Obama’s final tweet as President was a telling foreshadowing the tense ideological exchange that was spelled out in Trump’s address. Obama chose the iconic photo from the 50th anniversary of Selma’s Civil Rights March. Obama is seen standing hand in hand with John Lewis-- who refused to attend the inaugural. The photo is centered on President Obama and crops out George W. Bush and Laura Bush. The photo is emblematic of the ideological consolidation of American Civil Rights. The fight against racism is an exclusively Democratic domain and Republicans have no productive part in that fight.
Trump tried with his individualistic gusto to press past that ideological barrier and toward a government of the people not moored to political parties and partisanship. The absence of convention was its own enacted indictment of politics as usual. The speech will not calm the partisan tensions in the nation but it will tend to draw together the alliance of Republicans and Independents who brought him to power and will energize them to the task of supporting him in the contentious role of President.
The Public Rejected the American Elite
On Tuesday night November 8, the world was shocked to the largely unpredicted reality of Donald Trump becoming the President-Elect of the United States. He earned over 300 electoral votes and his opponent Secretary of State Clinton won about 230. Clinton appears to have won the distinction of winning the popular vote, though that will take time to add up completely as will the final numbers of the electoral college.
The headline for this election is that the experts were wrong. There were about three national polls like the IBD poll that suggested that Trump was in the lead. The statewide polls suggested that it would be very difficult for Trump to win 270 electoral votes. Despite the long standing and gratuitous suggestion that he was almost certain to lose the election, Trump won, and by about 9:30 in the evening it was increasingly apparent that the experts had completely misjudged the election.
I explained why Hillary Clinton would lose the election back in September. Essentially, public anger at the American elite establishment, composed of the Media, the Federal Government, Hollywood, both political parties, academia and various epistemological subsidiaries, decimated the establishment. The public had for some time been plotting to put an offensive person into the White House in order to annihilate the intellectual abuse of the term “offensive.” Americans had grown exasperated with the manipulative and self contradictory “-ism” labelling that was plainly racist and sexist on its face while simultaneously professing to abhor these same behaviors of discrimination. Pundits were surprised but largely amused when by late spring Donald Trump decimated a 15 member field of Republican nominees for President. It appears quite possible that the majority of those candidates could have defeated Hillary Clinton. In fact, it seems likely that many might have defeated her more handily than Trump did. The top finishers were all political outsiders such as Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. But the ultimate outsider proved to be Donald Trump. The endorsement of Sarah Palin early was a coronation for a populist movement trying to unseat an American political establishment rooted on both the Republican and Democratic sides. This was her revenge for her sexist humiliation by the Media in 2008.
The irony of elite hubris was expressed by polling guru and political prognosticator Nate Silver. On May 11, he tweeted:
“Reminder: The Cubs will win the World Series and, in exchange, President Trump will be elected 8 days later.”
The barb was an ongoing escalation among pundits mocking the idea that Trump could ever become President. The remarks that proved true on both counts typifies the radical outcome of this election. The American public PROVED the experts wrong. Their relentless “fact checking” was mocked by a candidate that ‘lied exponentially more than their opponent.’ They deliberately chose a candidate that would humiliate the ruling interpretive class composed of armies like Nate Silver, college professors, movie stars, and major leaders in both political parties. Because it was impossible, the public hoped to send a decimating message to the epistemological heart of America. The public felt they were being systemically lied to about so many aspects of their lives both culturally and economically. Michael Moore tried to warn the Left and the nation well before the election and even European theorist Slavoj Zizek endorsed Trump in his typically obtuse fashion.
Trump voters based on exit polls did not much admire Donald Trump or his character. They did know that they had the right commodity for disrupting the interpretive classes of America. It is therefore not surprising that many elite in defiance of Godwin’s law continue to appraise the election as the second coming of Hitler. Many elite mourned on social media that they could only weep and feel desperate terror. Of course apocalyptic rhetoric is a staple of election rhetoric and the Clinton campaign even resurrected the archetypal Daisy aid with its now grown up participant to again remind us all that many of us would die in nuclear fireballs launched by an elected President Donald Trump. The fact that college educated individuals played such an important role in the strength of Clinton’s results point to the growing partisan roles of higher education in shaming people with regard to politics. Civility is largely an unreachable goal because if one side wins, the other side will according to academia be forcibly deported, shunned, jailed, and subjected to a wide array of dehumanizing results.
Trump’s election is actually a humiliation of both political parties-- though democrats are feeling its sting most deeply now. The public does not trust politics. It conveyed this in the most forceful terms available to it-- electing the unelectable-- electing a thoroughly non-politician. It is comparable to all of us when we turn an electronic device on and off and hope it might return to proper function.
The general public would like politicians to humble themselves and return to the task of serving individuals rather than interests. The public probably knows based upon past experience that this will again be too much to ask. The fact that they would try so hard to achieve a different and more ideal outcome, is a testament to the peculiar idealism and persistence of the American citizen.
For those still mourning the outcome and personally lost in the overzealous rhetoric of the campaign, it is worth remembering. Both of these candidates made statements in the recent past about how their opponent ought to either be President or run for President. For us to pretend that either candidate represents impossible imponderable hazard is disingenuous. It is not surprising that we would feel this way so soon after such an aggressive election. Much of it was unfair. Much of it was unethical. We can continue to fill out our own post election scorecards. But we ought not believe that the world is about to end.
These were certainly some of the most interesting arguments I have ever witnessed as a citizen or an expert.
I do have a new book coming out soon about these issues, with my excellent colleague Dr. Robert Denton. The book is called: Social Fragmentation and the Decline of American Democracy: The End of the Social Contract.