Well … that just happened. Unlike a lot of other folks, I wasn’t primed for Election Day to be some sort of Democratic blowout, but this was just beyond shocking. I didn’t think a Trump win was that outside the realm of possibility, but these results are rather decisive. Though the final results have yet to be tallied, Donald Trump might top over 300 Electoral Votes, though it looks like he lost the popular vote. It’s hard to comprehensively talk about what just transpired so I thought I would throw up some quick thoughts:
Shaming people isn’t a very effective electoral strategy
One thing that annoys me about Democrats and Progressives is how quick they resort to shouting “racist” or “sexist” the minute they encounter a differing opinion on any issue. Painting everyone who doesn’t prefer your candidate with such broad brushes isn’t going to win any hearts and minds. Clinton supporters, in particular, have engaged in this strategy since the primaries, accusing Bernie Sanders supporters of either being misogynists or gender traitors, and then turning on third party voters later on. It’s probably why the widely mocked theory of “hidden” Trump voters – those whom either pollsters missed in their samples, or those who simply didn’t want to admit their support for Trump – has turned out to be an actual thing. This lesson will probably fall on deaf ears looking at the state of my social media feeds, however.
And on that note, stop whining about people who voted for Johnson, Stein and non-voters
I voted for Gary Johnson, because I felt he was the most qualified for the job, and his beliefs and values are much closer to mine. I cast my vote for the same reason a lot of other people did for their respective candidate. However, before and after the election, I keep hearing people describe my vote for Johnson as “selfishness,” which is utter nonsense. You know what’s selfish: demanding and threatening other people to submit to your own voting preferences. Votes are earned, not owed to your preferred candidate. I voted based on my principles, and I will make no apologies for it.
The ACA was the big elephant in the room hardly anyone was talking about
The Affordable Care Act has long been a drag on Democrat’s electoral prospects. Given how many people it affects and how strong feelings are on the law, it was surprising to me how little time in the debates was spent on it. Rising prices and shrinking of competition were certainly noted, but there was hardly any musing about any electoral impact. However, it was actually very telling to hear Bill Clinton candidly describing the ACA as kind of a dumpster fire in the closing weeks of the campaign. While the context of this criticism was in part a push for single payer, it looks like the electorate wants no part of it. For voters unhappy with the law, a President Trump provided a path to repeal, probably overriding whatever reservations one would have about Trump. I believe the ACA has definitely made it’s mark on this election, even if no one wanted to recognize it at the time.
At the end of the day, Clinton was not a strong candidate, and the hubris of the Democratic Party proved to be her undoing
There will be plenty of scapegoats for this outcome. James Comey is probably #1 on that list right now. But that could have been avoided by Clinton not being super paranoid about her emails being on government systems. The electoral college is next on the list given that Clinton will likely win the popular vote. Maybe a campaign stop in Wisconsin would have helped make that moot. I’m sure there’ll be some fist shaking at Citizen’s United, despite Clinton’s spending advantage during this election cycle. And I’m pretty sure declaring a significant amount of voters as a “basket of deplorables” didn’t help things either.
We can all rail about how awful Donald Trump is and what a disaster he would be as president (and he most certainly will be). But the main point of elections is to prove why you’re a better choice than the other options. Hilary Clinton failed to make that case to enough voters in some key states, and for that she has no one to blame other than herself and her campaign team. Democrats all over were popping their champagne corks the moment Donald Trump won the GOP nomination, thinking they had this election in the bag. For Democrats who are really upset about this elections result, there should probably be some reflection inwards towards their candidate and their party’s leadership, instead of searching for scapegoats.
For all the talk about the death of the Republican Party, one has to wonder about the state of the Democratic Party
One thing that has been striking to me is the complete lack of “young guns” in the Democratic Party. With Barack Obama exiting stage left along with the Clintons, who does the party turn to now? Despite their popularity among younger voters, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are both up there in age. The Republicans will continue to have their own self-destructive issues, but the Democratic Party is not in much better shape. What Republicans can point to, however, is that they have a lot of young notables who are recognizable and will be in the party’s future, even if the party itself is in tatters. Who do the Democrats have? And what direction are Democrats going? Are we going to see a left version of the Tea Party inspired by the Sanders/Warren crowd? I’d prefer Democrats move to a more economically literate direction but that seems too much to hope for. Maybe there’s a celebrity Democrat who can pull off what Trump has done here but I’m not sure anyone wants to head in that direction.
Data and modeling don’t fully account for human behavior
Almost every predictive model on this election was wrong. Dead wrong. Human beings are complicated and trying to predict what a nation of 300+ million people will do isn’t an exact science. That’s not to say they don’t do good work, but the limitations of this breed of journalism have been laid out bare for everyone to see now. Like many technocrats before them, the Nate Silvers and the Ezra Kleins of the world may have discovered their Fatal Conceit.
In Third Party land, despite some rather bumbling moments, the Libertarian Party is making historic strides
I have some mixed feelings regarding the performance of the LP in this cycle. The final vote tally of close to 4% was an encouraging sign of growing support for the party, but good lord that nonsense with Bill Weld was rather embarrassing. Were it not for Weld, I feel like the potential impact of Johnson could have been much higher than the final result. Let’s not repeat that mistake again, OK? We’ll see what the future brings, but I’m hopeful this isn’t some anomalous outlier and we might be seeing further strides being taken by the LP going forward. The only real question is: who picks up the torch from Gary Johnson?
And finally, yeah, I’m a little nervous too
I really don’t know what to expect from this Trump guy. On some level that’s a little scary. But life goes on, and it’s not like an unpleasant presidential election result is ever really the end of the world.