Link Dump: Election

I don’t think anyone wants to hear more about the election, but no one reads this blog anyway, so you’re safe. Or, er, no that doesn’t make sense, but nothing about this election made sense, so that’s fitting. Or something. I don’t write a lot about politics anymore, and I’m not generally interested in knee-jerk analysis, but that’s all we’ve got right now. My instinct is try and understand what happened in a broad sense, and everyone is so shell-shocked right now (even the “winners”, mostly) that they’re just reverting to their previously held biases. From what I can see, almost every explanation for the election played a role. I won’t go so far as to say that there were 118 million reasons why people voted the way they did, but to pin it all on one thin explanation is also pretty foolish. Statistics failed us pretty well in this election, so I want to know more about that, and about why things are the way they are. This is easy to say for me, and others are in much worse shape, but I’m trying not to let all the anger and fear or joy and elation influence me too much.

  • Election 2016: Exit Polls – Various demographics can be interesting, but the real goofy part is that literally all of the polling up until the election was dramatically wrong, yet we’re treating these exit polls like gospel. The polling was wrong, let’s base our diagnosis of the election on more polls! Intuitively, most of these aren’t that surprising, but that’s kinda the point. Intuitively, Donalt Trump had no real chance of winning either.
  • Voter Turnout Fell, Especially In States That Clinton Won – Turnout numbers, at least, are probably more reliable. It was a douche and turd election, few seemed to actually like who they were voting for, and that generally leads to lower turnout. Yes, I know that you think the choice was clear, but the majority of Americans seemed pretty apathetic about their choices. But here I am speculating based on polling again. Oof.
  • A Running List Of Reported Racist Incidents After Donald Trump’s Victory – This shit is unacceptable. I don’t think bigotry was the main driving force behind Trump’s victory (partly because I don’t think there is a single, main driving force, but rather dozens of smaller ones), but it’s impossible to ignore this wave of xenophobic bullshit. I have not personally seen anything like this and I’m hoping that it will quickly subside, but I’ve read too many stories like this since the election. If you can do something about it, please do.
  • Louisiana student ‘fabricated’ story of hijab attack, police say – Well, shit. I’m consistently baffled by stuff like this. There’s enough genuine bullshit going around, why do you have to support those that would dismiss it by fabricating an attack?
  • Bystanders yell anti-Trump taunts as man beaten after car crash – And hey, this ain’t great either. What the hell is going on.
  • Stumped by Trump’s success? Take a drive outside US cities – A lot of stuff from before the election suddenly seems more relevant these days:

    While Trump supporters here are overwhelmingly white, their support has little to do with race (yes, you’ll always find one or two who make race the issue), but has a lot to do with a perceived loss of power.

    Not power in the way that Washington or Wall Street boardrooms view power, but power in the sense that these people see a diminishing respect for them and their ways of life, their work ethic, their tendency to not be mobile. (Many live in the same eight square miles that their father’s father’s father lived in.)

    Thirty years ago, such people determined the country’s standards in entertainment, music, food, clothing, politics, personal values. Today, they are the people who are accused of creating every social injustice imaginable; when anything in society fails, they get blamed.

    The places where they live lack economic opportunities for the next generation; they know their children and grandchildren will never experience the comfortable situations they had growing up – surrounded by family who lived next door, able to find a great job without going to college, both common traits among many successful small-business owners in the state.

    This has been a pretty common thread that I’ve seen. Many have been dismissing this view or blaming it on something other than what it is. Of course, I’m doubting that Trump can actually provide what these voters think, but its hard to dismiss their complaints. It also illustrates the divide between city and rural, which is not really new. But where there used to be at least some semblance of balance in our culture between this geographic divide, it no longer feels that way. The divide is growing. I realize it might be silly to look at horror movies for insight here, but hey, I just spent a month and a half watching them, and one thing that often pops up is the city/country divide. Carol Clover wrote about this in a chapter concerning rape-revenge films like I Spit on Your Grave and Deliverance and delved in to a more general “Urbanoia”:

    The city/country split is by no means confined to the rape-revenge film – or even revenge films in general. An enormous proportion of horror takes as its starting point the visit or move of (sub)urban people to the country. … Going from city to country in horror film is in any case very much like going from village to deep, dark forest in tradional fairy tales. … One of the obvious things at stake in the city/country split of horror films, in short, is social class – the confrontation between the haves and have-nots, or even more directly, between exploiters and their victims.

    There is, of course, lots to unpack there, and as mentioned above, this can’t explain everything, but it does seem to be a base disagreement that is driving divisions in this country. People in the city/country divide are dismissing each other with ever more vigor, and that probably plays a small part in what’s going on here.

  • To the supporters of Donald Trump – Jason Kottke wrote a bit about this in July and tied it to Tyler Cowan’s description of Brexit:

    Many Americans share a frustration of the current political system and how it is wielded against us in our name by skilled political practitioners, but I do not believe the US is a country filled with small-minded, intolerant racists, despite the perplexing level of national support for a proudly dishonest and bigoted TV personality, whatever his keen political instincts. Trump is the one lever being given to those frustrated voters for sending a message to their politicians and many are choosing to use it despite many of the reasons listed in that letter. Sending that message is more important than its potential consequences.

    This goes to the “outsider” view of the election, another common theme. Again, I doubt Trump will actually be able to deliver on what these voters actually want, but their complaints are valid. Part of the Trump win? Sure, but not all of it, which also seems to be a common theme.

  • Trump Won Because Leftist Political Correctness Inspired a Terrifying Backlash – This is another example of someone using the election to harp on one of their hobby horses, but it’s not entirely wrong either.

    If you’re a leftist reading this, you probably think that’s stupid. You probably can’t understand why someone would get so bent out of shape about being told their words are hurtful. You probably think it’s not a big deal and these people need to get over themselves. Who’s the delicate snowflake now, huh? you’re probably thinking. I’m telling you: your failure to acknowledge this miscalculation and adjust your approach has delivered the country to Trump.

    There’s a related problem: the boy-who-cried-wolf situation. I was happy to see a few liberals, like Bill Maher, owning up to it. Maher admitted during a recent show that he was wrong to treat George Bush, Mitt Romney, and John McCain like they were apocalyptic threats to the nation: it robbed him of the ability to treat Trump more seriously. The left said McCain was a racist supported by racists, it said Romney was a racist supported by racists, but when an actually racist Republican came along—and racists cheered him – it had lost its ability to credibly make that accusation.

    This is akin to the political-correctness-run-amok problem: both are examples of the left’s horrible over-reach during the Obama years. The leftist drive to enforce a progressive social vision was relentless, and it happened too fast. I don’t say this because I’m opposed to that vision – like most members of the under-30 crowd, I have no problem with gender neutral pronouns – I say this because it inspired a backlash that gave us Trump.

    Once again, I don’t think this is the only reason the country went for Trump… but it played a role.

  • A friend posted this on Facebook, and it’s well said:

    I understand that there is anger and fear right now. But, I just got through 8 years of hearing from extremely conservative friends and family about how Obama is not their president. It did not make me want to lend credibility to anything they said regarding him after that. Like it or not, Trump will be your president. Claiming otherwise is the most divisive thing you could do right now. He does not have a mandate and by all means, let there be fierce opposition to every unconstitutional and harmful policy he proposes. The important thing is to keep this country a place where you can openly criticize your president, assemble to protest your president, read about your president in the free press and where a president can be impeached if necessary and most of all, where power continues to peacefully be transferred from one president to the next one.

    Again, well said.

  • I could keep going on here, but if there’s one thing I’m trying to keep in mind, it’s that there’s no easy explanation for an election result, especially this election. Everyone who is writing about it seems to think they’ve identified that one, key component… and it just happens to conform perfectly to their worldview. Voter turnout, bigotry, third party voters, politically correct wolf-crying, city/country divide, immigration, bathrooms?, single-issue voters, capitalism/socialism, Russian influence (fucking Russia?), the list goes on and on and on. No one of these things put us where we are, but we can’t really dismiss any of them out of hand either.
  • One other thing I’ve noticed in the past few years, on both sides of the divide, is a lack of respect for free speech. I feel like it’s been constantly dismissed in the past few years in favor of [insert preferred ideology here]. Again, this goes both ways. Trump has repeatedly threatened free speech because he’s such a crybaby. Many on the left decry speech they disagree with too (you could argue that the politically correct stuff feeds into that). But now we’re really going to need free speech. This country has safeguards to protect against wannabe authoritarians, and free speech is one of them. We need to be vigilant about stuff like that. One of the reasons I’m always cautious about executive power and the expansion of federal power is that you never know who’s going to wield it next. You may have been comfortable with Bush or Obama wielding certain powers, but now Trump has them. Are you still comfortable?
  • Some bite sized nuggets from twitter:

Alright, that’s enough of that. I’m still trying to understand and none of the above is meant to dismiss or harangue anyone with unwanted advice. The only advice I have comes from Bill and Ted: Be excellent to each other. We now return you to your regularly scheduled SF/Movies programming.

2 thoughts on “Link Dump: Election”

  1. I am way late in responding here but what the hell, why not? I do want to say good on you for the idea that it isn’t just one big thing that drove the election the way it went but more likely a bunch of different, little things. There’s been a lot of political discussions between acquaintances I’ve been lurking in on across various social media (mostly lurking, because I think I blew out all my will to debate politics on the internet years ago) and if it’s taught me anything it’s that the people I was surprised to see voted for Trump did so for equally surprising reasons.

  2. Cheers Dave, It’s still appreciated. I haven’t written much about politics in a while, so I’m glad to see it resonated at least a little bit, and like you, I’ve been seeing more diverse explanations than is typically reported. Doing my best to keep a level head, because I learned a long time ago that getting pissed off doesn’t make me very productive.

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