Shoe Drops and Shoo-Ins

On November 14, 2016, in Past Morning Briefs, by David

shoetossingSo the other shoe dropped on Tuesday, and it landed on Hillary Clinton’s head.

The so-called shoo-in, who was given a greater than 90% chance of winning just prior to the election by media outlets like The New York Times and Huffington Post wound up with anywhere from 2-4 million more popular votes than President-elect Trump. However, Trump took every single Swing State and significantly won the electoral vote.

With two popular vote wins and electoral vote defeats in 16 years, of course, The Democratic Party would now like to end the electoral vote. Nothing like waiting for something to break until you fix it. Of course, had this happened to Republicans even once ever before (it hasn’t; and there’s a reason for that), we wouldn’t be discussing the Electoral College any more. It would be over. Maybe that’s something we can learn from the Republican Party.

Plenty of lessons to be learned from the 2016 U.S. Elections; many of them lessons to be re-learned. With not very much time or perspective since last Tuesday, though it feels like forever since a Trump Win was nothing more than a bad dream, I’ll try to point out a few of them:

1) America Sucks at Politics. Our political system is a cesspool. Those now charged with Draining the Swamp are some of the worst actors in its history and will likely pollute it even more. We don’t discuss or debate issues in public or private well, if at all. We never wind up with the best candidates in the final election. And we are about to get what we asked for. So the blame should start with us.

2) Non-Voters Kill Democracy. If you didn’t vote, for whatever reason other than being wrongfully stripped from the rolls, you have no excuses and you are hurting this country. It’s as simple as that. Your vote is your voice. If you didn’t use it, you delegated that to everyone else who did. I believe we should fine or tax everyone who is eligible and doesn’t vote a minimum of $250.00 every election.

3) Until we have a meaningful Third Party in the U.S., voting for a third party candidate is a waste of a vote. Almost the same as not voting. Maybe a little bit better because it required at least a tiny amount of actual effort. If there was an intention behind the choice: intending to vote against both Trump and Hillary, then good for you. But if you thought that by voting for the Third Party you’d still wind up with the “lesser of two evils” (i.e., not Trump), you were wrong. As were the polls.

4) The Polls Know Nothing. Every single national poll was wrong except one: The USC Dornsife/LA Times poll. The reason they got it right when everyone else got it wrong: they polled a large sample, and the same sample, every time. Everything else is guesswork, and the guesses and methodologies all missed because it was impossible to find a representative sample in this election. There’s a reason for that.

5) Trump Voters Didn’t All Identify As Trump Voters. Not everyone who voted for Trump was wearing a Make America Great Again hat. In fact, anti-Trump hyperbole kept many from stating their intentions out loud: to friends, to family, to pollsters, to the world. Until it came time to vote. Trump’s campaign activated parts of the electorate that hadn’t voted in years. While Hillary’s campaign failed to activate many whose interests she clearly favored: blacks, Hispanics, women. Each of these demographics supported Obama by a much greater percentage than they did Hillary, despite promises from Trump that should have had them worried sick. Turns out, worried sick doesn’t equate to voter turnout. Not this time.

6) The Problem With Hillary. Turns out her flaws were enough to sink her. A few to consider (while keeping in mind she took a higher percentage of voters than Gore in 2000, JFK in 1960, and Nixon in 1968): She is part of the political establishment. Her campaign and close advisors were insiders and out of touch. The e-mail server issue hurt her, in spite of nothing specific ever being tied to the practice. Wiki-Leaks document leaks, targeted against Hillary to the benefit of Trump, were extremely damaging, especially those that convinced Sanders supporters that the DNC was biased against Bernie. Count Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as a huge loser of this campaign. DNC needs a massive re-boot.

7) Know Your Audience. Trump knew whom he was talking to. He pushed all their buttons, and did it again and again. I’m not sure who Hillary was targeting with her ads and campaign, but she sure didn’t get the votes she needed from women, blacks, Hispanics and Asians. It’s tougher to target your campaign well when you don’t know who may secretly be OK with the sexism, race-baiting, anti-Semitism, and 20th Century thinking. But isn’t that the job of the professional politicians to know?

Also, you will find out who is and who isn’t OK with Trump in coming days because his fans no longer have to keep their support a secret. He won, so it’s OK for them to tell you you’re wrong for calling him an idiot. Or a sexist, race-baiting neo-fascist. Or – and you can accept or reject this based on your beliefs – to give him a chance.

What many of us hoped would be a relative return to normalcy after the campaign is now looking like a “new normal.” And it’s plenty scary. Both Trump’s victory speech and his Sunday night interview on 60 Minutes offered some conciliatory words, and in turn, a glimmer of hope for those despairing of a Trump Presidency. But now that Trump has power, rather than is attempting to gain it, what he says will take a back seat to what he does. And we’re going to need to be watching closer than ever to see what he does. Especially if he makes good on his promise of obstructing the view of the media, and thus, Us.

I’m concerned about some of the various Bad Actors from recent U.S. political history who will find a home, voice and legitimacy in the Trump Administration. A few of those are: Steve Bannon, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Chris Christie, Ben Carson, Corey Lewandowski and John Bolton. Most of these guys are in Trump’s inner-inner-circle. And all of them have something ugly in their recent histories.

I’m intrigued by the roles of KellyAnne Conway, clearly Trump’s MVP down the stretch of the election, his daughter Ivanka and her husband. Also, Peter Thiel of Gawker and formerly Facebook.

And I’m disappointed in fringe-players like Julian Assange and Wiki-Leaks, who proclaim to be for transparency but clearly had an axe to grind against Hillary Clinton in their one-sided handling of hacked and leaked documents. And Jeff Zucker, the heinous former head of NBC who turned CNN into Fox News Lite during this election cycle with the ludicrous hiring of Corey Lewandowski and a policy of airing all Trump, all the time that provided his campaign with a ton of free publicity.

But I’m hopeful for a lot of reasons, too. I’m hopeful that a Hillary Clinton loss might end up being a gain for the future of the Democratic Party: Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Corey Booker and more. I’m hopeful that by electing an outsider (we’ll see how business-as-usual he is or isn’t), we might see some changes in Washington, DC and U.S. politics that could help us going forward.

I’m hopeful, as always, that this country and we as people will learn from these new and haunting mistakes. Though I’m not holding my breath. And I’m hopeful that the surprise I saw election night on Trump’s face may actually have betrayed the tiniest hint of a sense of humility in victory. That he won’t be the sexist, race-baiting fascist liar he was on the campaign trail. That Super-Ego Trump will triumph over Super-Id Trump. And that now that he’s President, a sense of “how can I do a good job” will prevail over “how do I avenge all wrongs ever done to me since I was a kid.”

I’m hoping. And I’m watching. And I’ll be working even harder. Quitting accomplishes nothing. Apathy is a vice. And disappointment can become opportunity if we are willing to take the longer, harder, higher road it presents to us.

 

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