The election

A terrible thing has happened to us. It may have just begun. After reflection, I have decided last night was the worst night of my life so far. I am not facing a personal nightmare: I have a secure job and a family, a house, financial security, and (at least for the nonce) most of my wits. But I will probably not live long enough to see things turn around, nor is it certain that they will. My daughters and my students are at real risk, as are millions of people I don’t know but who I know are out there. Billions, actually; all the passengers on our warming spaceship. All in all, I have definitely learned how the Trump voters who sense “their world having been taken away from them” feel. Not that they are going to get that world back now; the most ill-used and vulnerable of them are going to pay a terrible price for their day of rage as they learn the iron law of Trump’s deals: his promises mean nothing to anyone including himself, and that goes extra for his promises to them.

Others have had much worse nights, including others’ last night, and they have something to tell us, about both despair and hope. We must not wallow in despair, but we must look it in the eye and recognize it. Here is a gallery of borrowed insights, more enduring and tested than a blog post.  First, the picture I cannot get out of my head, Goya’s Saturn devouring his children. Now you too will have it forever.  Look at Saturn’s eyes: he is not angry, or vengeful, or cruel; he is terrified. The election of 2016 was all about fear.

eyes_goya-saturn_devouring-wikimedia

Next, Yeats’ anticipation of World War I (“The Second Coming”). It’s a poem; read it out loud.

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst   
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.   
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out   
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert   
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,   
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,   
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it   
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.   
The darkness drops again; but now I know   
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,   
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,   
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Wagner’s Hans Sachs, of the 16th century white working class (a cobbler), watched his beloved community erupt in riot and violence in the second act of Die Meistersinger, and reflected thus.  You must set aside seven and a half minutes, and listen to the end.
My mental jukebox always pops this number up in bad times, and also in good times.  Schubert paid more dues than I ever will; this song has been an anchor of sanity for those who know it over two centuries and it’s not nearly done yet. If you have access to a piano, go there and sing it with someone. The English:
O gracious Art, in how many grey hours
When life’s fierce orbit encompassed me,
Have you kindled my heart to warm love,
And charmed me into a better world!Oft has a sigh, issuing from your harp,
A sweet, blessed chord of yours,
Thrown open the heaven of better times;
O gracious Art, for that I thank you!

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.

30 thoughts on “The election”

  1. IIRC Goya painted the black works in self-imposed rustication in Manzanares, a nowheresville in the empty plains of La Mancha (see the first lines of Don Quixote). Perhaps his sanity was saved by going into real exile in Bordeaux, where he at least had people to talk to. If I were the alcalde of Manzanares, I would build a replica of Goya's house, furnished with as good life-size copies as I could afford of the black paintings that originally hung there. The effect is reduced by the antiseptic and cultured environment of the Prado.

    There is a lot of black humour to come. The first sex scandal involving an intern. The attempt for real to get Mexico to pay for the Wall. Peña Nieto ran into political trouble in Mexico for being as conciliatory to Trump as he was on the visit, the repeat for real will be much rougher. The attempt to reopen NAFTA and the Uruguay round: this will be a technical nightmare for trade diplomats. The EU's response to Brexit shows the obvious strategy for everybody else: do nothing and wait for the bid. The other parties hold all the cards. How does Trump get the Uruguay round deal reopened? Doha was a failure, two decades of it. He can denounce the Paris climate agreement by executive action and leave the US chair empty while the four-year clock runs out (see Article 28). But will it stay empty when somebody proposes carbon tariffs on the exports of free riders?

    1. Update on quitting Paris. Trump can shorten the timetable by leaving the parent Rio framework convention of 1992, whose ratification by the USA was approved unanimously by the Senate. (How times change.) The notice for that is one year. It is unclear whether a treaty so approved can be denounced by executive action, as the Paris agreement clearly can be. If Trump tries that, it will be litigated to SCOTUS. A Senate vote would be filibustered. The GOP can nuke the filibuster, but doing this to kill HW Bush's Rio treaty would be terrible optically and very bad for international relations with everybody but Saudi Arabia and Russia.

  2. “Day of rage” sounds about right for the Trump voters’ approach to their ballots. I had a question under “Quote of the day” concerning how we should regard these voters, using a quote from Elbridge Gerry during the Constitutional Convention, when the delegates were debating whether the people should elect their own representatives:

    Mr. SHERMAN opposed the election by the people, insisting that it ought to be by the State Legislatures. The people, he said, immediately, should have as little to do as may be about the government. They want information, and are constantly liable to be misled.

    Mr. GERRY. The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do not want virtue, but are the dupes of pretended patriots. In Massachusetts it had been fully confirmed by experience, that they are daily misled into the most baneful measures and opinions, by the false reports circulated by designing men, and which no one on the spot can refute. One principal evil arises from the want of due provision for those employed in the administration of government. It would seem to be a maxim of democracy to starve the public servants.

    Question: did the Trump voters mainly lack virtue, or did they mostly lack information, as Roger Sherman believed they would?

    If they lack virtue, which virtue did they lack? One of the four cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, or fortitude? Or some other virtue?

    Clearly, the delegates knew that Donald Trump would be coming along one day. In order to organize a rational approach to politics for the next election, we need an accurate diagnosis of what went wrong, and I suggest that knowing whether the electorate suffers from a want of virtue or a lack of information.

    It could be both, of course, something related to a lack of virtue which leads to an information deficit of the voter’s own choosing.

    If we don’t get this right, our efforts will be futile owing to a misdirected approach. I think it is an important point. I just am not sure of the answer.

    1. I think it's both. Fear led to blind anger, which led to people not taking the trouble to seek out verified information, aided and abetted by our very sick and bifurcated media culture. It may be early to look for a bright side to this… but it may be that what is about to befall us will be the cure for all this false equivalency and laziness on the part of publishers. The press did this to us too.

        1. I suppose a boycott is not the answer. Yet I foresee a whole lot less news consumption happening in the near future. I already mostly ignored Washington and now it will be like oogling a car crash. And yes, I feel guilty in advance, if anyone wonders.

          You know, I realize I said "press" up above, but really it was the media, the telly kind. Not that my local rag exactly covered itself in glory… but then they are cut to ribbons already.

    2. Question: did the Trump voters mainly lack virtue, or did they mostly lack information, as Roger Sherman believed they would?

      I think that most voters – probably 80%-90% – simply voted along party lines, same as before. You could have put literal donkeys and elephants on the presidential tickets, and the outcome would not have been qualitatively different. (Okay, I'm a bit facetious, but you get the idea.) The identities of their presidential candidates may help those voters come up with post-hoc rationalizations for their choices, but the choice is mostly made beforehand.

      This also would be the rational choice. A President Trump is still greatly constrained by Congress, and he has a very small majority in the Senate, where he's made quite a few enemies during the primaries and where there's enough factionalism so that he's still going to be controlled by other Republican interests. No, from a Republican perspective he's not all that scary, even if you disagree with his more idiotic ideas. You want him in the White House instead of Hillary so that Republican legislation doesn't get vetoed and so that you can put conservative judges on the Supreme Court.

      Which is also what I'm honestly a great deal more worried about than Trump himself; we've seen over the past eight years that the Constitution's checks and balances limit any individual politician's ability to exercise power. But soon we'll have all three branches of government controlled by the same party, which is pretty scary.

      We survived Reagan and Bush junior, and several of their predecessors on both sides weren't exactly prizes, either, or so I've been told; we can survive another loudmouthed fool. That's what stable democracies do. But can we survive an Orbanization of our country?

      1. Ah! I listed the four cardinal virtues but forgot to include the seven deadly sins for the “lacking virtue” option: pride, wrath, envy, avarice, gluttony, sloth, and lust. Voting along party lines without considering the complexities of the case would fall under sloth most likely. Sloth is sort of a default setting for all of our sins; the other sins require some investment of energy. Sloth could also create an indisposition to acquire information, leading to a deficit thereof. Want of virtue and want of information could be linked in this manner.

        Sloth could also be what bedeviled the progressives, if Michael Moore is correct; they were not willing to invest the energy to find out much about Trump voters and why they had abandoned hope in progressives as their political allies.

        1. I've struggled to place myself in the shoes of Republicans who disliked Trump, but voted for their party anyway.

          I start with someone who believes in my core progressive ideology – pro-choice, government services for the poor, regulations, climate change, healthcare, higher taxes, etc. – but then expresses paranoid, racist and misogynist sentiments. I can kind of imagine it, however there's really nothing like that on the left, where on the right you have an entire culture devoted to it (the 50% polled who seemed to express similar feelings to Trump – the "deplorables").

          I find it hard to imagine. Much of what is frightening about Trump is not just his bigotry but his authoritarian tendencies, seemingly born out of a hyper-masculine machismo which I am also allergic too, yet which is also a popular disposition on the right. By itself, machismo isn't necessarily problematic, but in the context of larger retrograde attitudes, it takes on a bullying, chauvinist quality.

          So I imagine these non-Trumpist Republicans as disgusted by his racial bigotry (the homophobic policies I'm assuming they're quite amenable to), embarrassed by his dim-witted bloviations, his crassness making them wince. But he's also likely much more of a recognizable type, the kind of fellow not uncommon in right wing circles, be it leather-upholstered backroom offices or at the opposite end of a construction yard. They are used to seeing him, tolerating him, even appreciating his git-r-done brashness all-the-while shaking their heads and rolling their eyes.

          So now he's been nominated and, well, as long as he's surrounded by enough good old boys, he'll generally continue policies we want: dismantle Obamacare, cut up climate change regulations, stand athwart the gun rack, appoint conservative justices who might just finally end the fetal holocaust, and with any luck nuke ISIS.

          I take solace in the fact that, while I disagree with these policy choices, they don't necessarily represent moral monstrosity. They don't actually want to violently march into neighborhoods and rip apart undocumented families. They don't actually want to ban Muslims. They don't actually want to waterboard-and-then-some. They don't believe in crazy conspiracy theories. They don't read Breitbart.

          However, their party nominated someone who does. They have to live with the fact that they are in bed with this movement, which has consumed them. At what point do you decide to leave? We'll see.

  3. Or… could I get in touch with my sadistic side long enough to enjoy watching those one or two Reps with a conscience try to deal with what they have wrought? Or, do I imagine a capacity for shame that they do not actually possess?

    1. It might be fun to be a fly on the wall today when Trump gets his first full CIA briefing and finds out (1) everything the CIA knows about him and his dealings with Russia, (2) what, therefore, Obama knew about him the whole time.

  4. On a personal level, my main concern is figuring out how long I have to find a job that provides decent health insurance, because my current employer does not and, once the ACA is repealed, I won't be able to get it on the individual market. I can't describe how ill this makes me feel. I spent eight years unemployed and looking for work between 2007 and 2015, and there are very few things in this world that I loathe as much as the job search process. I like my current job, but now I can't stay there long term.

    1. Oh do I feel your pain! Some of it anyhow.

      I suppose you have already tried stuff like looking at Costco plans? And if you live in NY there is, iirc, a freelancers union that I think offers health insurance (though I don't know about eligibility). You may have mentioned what area you're from but I forgot. It really makes no sense at all for there to even be an "individual" marketplace. I wonder if it would make sense to try to start one of those here in California.

      It probably won't happen soon but I do believe we are going to have to re-open healthcare and have a public option. In theory too, the Reps might balk. (Probably not though. They like to blow sh*t up.) I wish California would just do it by ourselves. Not clear if we can, legally. A third of us are in Medi-Cal already ffs.

      1. If the Republicans do what they are saying that they are going to, California will not be able to do anything on its own. The centerpiece of the Republican "plan" is, "Allow insurance to be sold across state lines." That's code for preempting all state regulations on health insurance. Much as the whole credit card industry has relocated to North Dakota to take advantage of its lack of usury laws, which prevents anyone anywhere in the country from benefiting by whatever laws their own state has, all of the health insurers will find a small state to shift their nominal seat of operations to which won't impose those pesky rules that California tries to. And, to be honest, those insurance companies won't have a choice; it will be financially impossible for them to survive if they don't.

        1. Whoa, sounds like full employment for lawyers!! This could be good for me. (Too soon?)

          Health law is pretty complicated, I don't know if it's possible. We should try anyhow. Give these states' righters something to chew on.

  5. I think Garrison Keillor gets it right…..

    Alas for the Trump voters, the disasters he will bring on this country will fall more heavily on them than anyone else. The uneducated white males who elected him are the vulnerable ones, and they will not like what happens next.

    To all the patronizing B.S. we’ve read about Trump expressing the white working class’s displacement and loss of the American Dream, I say, “Feh!” — go put your head under cold water. Resentment is no excuse for bald-faced stupidity. America is still the land where the waitress’s kids can grow up to become physicists and novelists and pediatricians — but it helps a lot if the waitress and her husband encourage good habits and the ambition to use your God-given talents and the kids aren’t plugged into electronics day and night. Whooping it up for the candidate of cruelty and ignorance does less than nothing for your kids.

    We liberal elitists are now completely in the clear. The government is in Republican hands. Let them deal with him. Democrats can spend four years raising heirloom tomatoes, meditating, reading Jane Austen, traveling around the country, tasting artisan beers, and let the Republicans build the wall and carry on the trade war with China and deport the undocumented and deal with opioids, and we Democrats can go for a long, brisk walk and smell the roses.

    http://www.wacotrib.com/opinion/columns/guest_col

  6. One plausible explanation for this defeat is in the rural counties of the rust belt. The blue wall collapsed because Dem voters did not turn up. Why? Well, Clinton did not deliver her economic arguments strongly enough and they were not bothered (as a lot of us were) by the rank misogyny and racism of Trump. Trump's unsavoury tactics actually worked in distracting Clinton from what should have been her core message – that the recovery fruits should be shared out better.

    Trump just pandered by promising "renegotiation" of Trade Agreements. That is a promise that he cannot deliver on painlessly and, even then, can no more return jobs to the rust belt than banging on a drum. Most of those jobs are now done by robots.

    I am not an American citizen, but I observe US elections to support the Dems. I stayed up on Tuesday to see what I hoped was the first woman get elected President of a country I deeply admire. At 4:00am I went to bed in despair, seeing the writing on the wall (Florida & NC were gone, Michigan and Wisconsin were virtually gone). My despair probably does not equal the despair of those of you who live in the US. If I had a worst night, it was probably the Brexit one – I live in Ireland, and if our largest market leaves the EU, we are not sure where than leaves us.

    Anyway, this leaves the Democrats in a terrible position. Who would have thought President Obama's accomplishments would not outlast his term of office? Instead of initiating a period of progressive advances, Obama was actually as good as it can get for a while. And much of what he did will be quickly negated – the climate agenda, healthcare, even possible gay marriage, banks deregulated … it gets worse.

    I would hope the DNC, maybe with someone like Obama, start to regenerate the Democratic Party from the bottom up, starting in the states. it is not just a matter of getting a new face on a poster for 2020. "Michelle in 2020" just misses the point.

    The other hope is that the GOP screws up royally. I would not bet against it.

    1. "The other hope is that the GOP screws up royally. I would not bet against it." And I would not take your bet.
      – "Cancel" the Paris climate agreement. How? Trump can quit any international treaty he likes; he can get Senate support if needed, but it's not clear that denouncing a treaty requires Senate consent. But with universal membership, the others are not going to renegotiate anything. The same goes for the Uruguay round and the WTO, the bases of liberalised trade with China. NAFTA and TPP are small beer.
      – The first economic crisis. Will Trump appoint somebody to Treasury competent like Hank Paulson, or a goldbug? Per Bagehot, financial panics have to be met with unlimited government lending, and per Keynes, recessions have to be met with public spending and deficits. Scouring Ayn Rand for solutions will not find any. A recession is likely, mismanagement of it pretty certain.
      – A foreign policy fiasco. Trump will start on a high note, as Obama's policies have put the skids under ISIS, and Trump can claim the glory for another's work when Raqqa falls and Caliph al-Baghdadi dies in a hail of Kurdish bullets. But there will be other crises, with Iran, Russia, North Korea, and China. Let's pray Trump avoids stumbling into an unwinnable war. But he could also lose by appeasement.
      – Climate and energy. The attempt to restore coal is bound to fail. The economics of a switch to renewables plus gas are now far too compelling. The wind turbines and solar panels Trump hates will proliferate, in more and more states.
      – Deportation of illegal immigrants. This one could lead to mass civil disobedience.

      in important cases with Senate

      1. Why would Trump want the rest of the signees to renegotiate the Paris Agreement? He doesn't believe that global warming is a problem at all. And, since the Agreement is not, under U.S. law, a treaty at all, he is under no domestic legal obligation to abide by it. I have no idea why you, or anyone else, would think that a Trump administration will care in the slightest about being in breach of international law by just abandoning it immediately. The Paris Agreement is dead. Stone, cold dead. I kept trying to tell you that you were far too optimistic about its chances for survival.

        1. Not dead in the rest of the world. The US is going to find the Paris Agreement an issue in its diplomacy with Europe and China, though not with Russia.

          Trump is supposed to have a head for business, and maybe he will be able to see that renewable energy is a deal the US cannot afford to pass up on. No matter what, there is a significant technological shift happening in energy that the US cannot opt out of, if it considers the total costs of energy, or even the costs without climate or pollution effects. Fat chance, though.

          1. I don't think the Trump administration is going to care very much that it's pissed off a lot of people by pulling out of the Paris Agreement. And, I suspect, that it will mean that the Agreement becomes dead in the rest of the world. For one, I don't think the Chinese are going to stay in it if the U.S. pulls out, and once both of those countries withdraw, I suspect that the snowball will be rolling downhill.

          2. We will just have to wait and see on that one. I am optimistic. China may see it as an opportunity where they can painlessly assume world leadership as the main driver with Europe, Canada and India, leaving the US on the sidelines. At last, somewhere it can use "soft power" in its international diplomacy.

            It is horrible that the US destroyed the Kyoto accords, and might now destroy its successor.

          3. It's a fantastic overestimate of American power to think that China's energy policy is determined by concern for good relations with the United States. The bilateral agreement that Obama struck with Xi, and opened the way to the Paris agreement, was a diplomatic coup: but like many such, it was smoke and mirrors. Neither side promised to do nothing they had not already decided to do.

            The leadership of the Chinese CP sees urban air pollution as a potential threat to its rule, and rising sea levels and extreme weather also as major risks. It recognizes dependence on imported oil as a geopolitical vulnerability, and the global energy transition as an economic opportunity. Chinese firms dominate the world market in solar panels. They produce far more electric cars, buses and vans than anybody else, and see a chance to lead the global car industry as well. Sigmar Gabriel, the German Vice-Premier and leader of the SPD, launched a furious attack on new Chinese fleet quotas for evs, which German carmakers are not ready to meet. The quotas, he claimed, were aimed at VW, BMW and Mercedes. Quite. (New German subsidies for evs are capped at €60,000, just below the price of a Tesla S.)

            Do you really think China, or for that matter Germany, are going to change course simply because Trump flounces out of Paris in a huff?

    2. Clinton did talk about her economic policies. Constantly. The problem is that no one bothered to cover that talk, so no one that wasn't at her rallies heard her.

      1. Ok, she may have, but why didn't her campaign have a strategy to counter Trump in the rust belt? There are shades of 2008 here, where Clinton did well, but ran what was agreed to be an inept campaign. Was this a failure of campaign, or candidate, or both? The diverse "Obama coalition" and the vaunted Democrat Get Out The Vote effort was successful in some places, but failed where it really mattered. At this distance, I cannot tell why, but it seems that economic bread-and-butter trumped (literally) concerns over temperament, misogyny, racism and rationality. Those concerns did not inspire Democrats to vote in numbers, as economic issues might have.

        Ok, an election has been lost, not the country. But the Democrat road back looks long and hard, and has to start against a backdrop of harsh realism.

        1. The Clinton campaign had a strategy to counter Trump in the Rust Belt: talk about policies that would help them as much as possible; hope that all of Trump's negatives would drive down turnout among people with whom parts of his message might resonate, but are turned off by the misogyny and hate; and mount a huge GOTV effort to get people to the polls in the parts of the state more favorable to her. It didn't work, but it was a strategy, and, given the information available back when the strategy had to be formulated, it was a pretty good one. Pretty much all of these things had to go wrong for it to fail:

          1) It turns out that large parts of the suburban population wasn't nearly as repulsed by Donald Trump: Narcissistic, Racist, Misogynist Bully as we all had hoped. I'm not sure what there is that we could have done about that.

          2) That GOTV effort either fell flat on its face despite the same approach having worked in the recent past, or the enthusiasm to vote among the groups targeted was so low that the GOTV couldn't fully compensate for it.

          3) Even the ethnic groups that were the targets of Trump's hatred weren't sufficiently repulsed by it to vote for Clinton in higher numbers than they did Obama, either by turnout or percentage who went to the polls.

          Of those, I think the key is #1. Contrary to the reports that it was rural areas that carried Trump to victory, turnout there wasn't appreciably higher than it was in 2008 or 2012, and Trump didn't win them with a greater percentage than McCain and Romney did. The difference was in the suburban and exurban counties, and it also was mostly among the reasonably well off rather than the economically desperate.

          Coming back and saying now that it wasn't a winning strategy doesn't do anyone much good other than changing the way we do things in the future.

          1. Michael, thanks you for responding. You are closer to the election than me, and your first-hand points are excellent. I accept that post-hoc criticism is unfair. The Democrat's "blue wall" collapsed unexpectedly. Jut two things strike me
            (1) In pre-election polls, Clinton seem to best Trump on every point (Terrorism, Foreign Policy … ), except one – the Economy. Should that not have set alarm bells tinkling? Could she have devoted more time to it? Especially in a year when the "fundamentals" were against the Democrats.
            (2) Michelle Obama said "When they go low, go high". Did Clinton engage too much in negative campaigning? At the end, the media were moaning about two negative campaigns, not just one. Probably unfair, I know, but should Clinton's campaign have taken FLOTUS's advice more to heart?
            Lot of hindsight there, This defeat will be raked over for a while, but the post-mortem may sow the seeds of a comeback.
            PS Appreciate your hard work, wish it was better rewarded.

        2. It's strange to talk about Hillary's strategy, when Trump had none. In addition to no strategy, he broke every rule in the book – he broke rules we never even thought were breakable. In hindsight, maybe Hillary would have gotten more votes if she'd been flanked by male, female and trans strippers in every appearance. I mean, who knows?

          Hillary had plans to help the white working class, and everyone else, but it's very hard for those plans to actually reach people who barely follow the news, particularly when any news they do hear is dominated by "concerns" and "clouds" and "suspicions" about e-mail and charitable foundations. (The current president, whose policies she promised to build on, saved the auto industry, over strenuous Republican objections, where's the love for that? Do they think President Palin did it?)

          What of Trump's plans? The ones most voters are familiar with, the Wall, deportation, Muslim crackdown, ripping up trade agreements, are also plans that his supporters did not take particularly seriously. As Peter Thiel said when disagreeing with Trump's Muslim ban, but supporting his candidacy, "[A] lot of the voters who vote for Trump take Trump seriously but not literally," which was also the way Thiel took him. (The Muslim ban has already been scrubbed from Trump's website.) It's a posture. The bad guy in wrestling is not really a bad guy, it's just a role.

          To me, it looks a lot like Brexit, where the non-elites gave the "elites" a middle finger (or two fingers in Britain) without having much concept of what they'd get as a result. We're going to find out.

Comments are closed.