Elites across America are lining up to get their exit visas. At least, that was what they were promising. Perhaps they never imagined that they would need to make good on their promises, but surely the chance of having them all debark for Canada must have pushed a few votes into Trump’s column.
Before the elites leave they want to know what happened. How could the most qualified candidate in American history lose to an orange-haired buffoon? Amazingly, just about everyone got it wrong. Just about everyone misread the mood of the country. And that includes Nate Silver.
Apparently, more than a few everyday Americans were fed up with political correctness. They were tired of being trashed as deplorable. They had had enough of the contempt of the elites—whether the media elites, the political elites, the financial elites and the behavioral economists.
They had had enough of people who trash-talked the country, beginning with a president who had led the way. They were tired of being told that they had never built anything, had never succeeded in anything, had never won anything. They were tired of being told what to think and of being condemned for having opinions that deviated from the dogmas of the Church of the Liberal Pieties.
The American people rose up to repudiate the guilt trip that the elites had been laying on them for yo these many years. They decided that the ballot box was not the place to atone for America’s sins. They refused to accept the notion that America’s success and its greatness were merely a product of oppression—of the oppression of blacks, women, Muslims, gays and the transgendered.
Four years ago and eight years ago they had voted for a candidate in order to atone for the sin of racism. They had been duped into thinking that a candidate without experience, a candidate who was woefully unprepared for the office, should be elected merely because of his race. They were dismayed to see him run around the world apologizing for America. They were aghast as he surrendered American pride and prestige to the leaders of the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.They were appalled to see his IRS persecute his political opponents... with impunity. And they were horrified to see him demonize the opposition and fair to strike any deals with it.
This year the elites crowned a candidate who was similarly unqualified… except that she had held some lofty titles. They went looking for Hillary’s accomplishments and came up empty. And yet, the elites told them that, at least, she was a woman and that she would heal America’s history of misogyny.
But, apparently, the majority of the people rejected the idea that American success and American greatness had been built on a foundation of misogyny. They rejected the guilt and voted for the man with the orange hair. If Hillary Clinton was the “lean in” candidate, Donald Trump’s win was “push back.” Undoubtedly, Sheryl Sandberg, a major Hillary supporter, is in shock. A majority of Americans, not so much.
True enough, Trump was barely qualified for the office of the presidency. And yet, the elites had already declared that merit no longer mattered. What mattered was diversity. Hoist on their own petard, I would say.
With the Trump victory the Age of Obama is over. The election repudiated a president who happily shut down major American industries, destroying the livelihood of many citizens, because of his belief in global warming. The people rejected the open borders policy that was being imposed by executive fiat. And they were fed up with university administrators who trash talked America and who shut down free speech because they found it offensive. They were seriously torqued to hear that their successes were merely a result of white privilege.
It was not so much that Trump ran a campaign that seemed to glorify white men. More importantly, Hillary Clinton ran against white men.
The election was not about politics. It was about culture. You might think that it was about a dying American culture, but certainly it was about a culture that did not want to be transformed by a flood of immigrants. One does not know how many Americans are aware of what is happening in Germany-- which is being run by Hillary’s role model, Angela Merkel-- but they did not want America to go the way of guilt-ridden Germany.
Groupthink among American elites is all the rage. Differences of opinion do not exist. As I once pointed out, New York is a city of free thinkers, all of whom think exactly the same thing. So, the elites missed it. They missed it completely. Or better, by nominating the supremely unqualified and unaccomplished Hillary Clinton they overplayed their hand. They thought that XX chromosomes would suffice.
Examine some of the better commentary this morning. Gerald Seib writes in the Wall Street Journal:
The deplorables rose up and shook the world.
“Deplorables” was, of course, the disparaging term Hillary Clinton at one point applied to some supporters of Donald Trump. Many of his loyal followers proudly embraced the insult and used it as a motivating tool.
Wearing such establishment disdain as a badge of honor, the Trump army cut a deep swath through the American electoral system Tuesday, propelling the Republican nominee to the most stunning victory in modern American history.
In winning, Mr. Trump didn’t merely vanquish Mrs. Clinton. He instantly remade the Republican party in his own image. He rewrote some of the GOP’s most dearly held policy and philosophical positions. He shredded the conventional wisdom in both parties, which held that there simply weren’t enough of the white, working-class voters who flocked to his side to win a national election. Whole sets of comfortable assumptions in both political parties now will be swept aside.
Also writing in the Journal, pollsters Dan McGinn and Peter Hart offer this assessment:
On Tuesday they didn’t vote for Donald Trump so much as they voted against every institution that has turned its back on working people. Political analysts thought this race was about insults, sexual harassment, non-disclosure of tax returns, and boorish behavior. Many were sure this would translate into an easy win for Mrs. Clinton. They listened to the wrong voices–from the beginning. This election was about a large segment of the electorate wanting a way to demonstrate deep frustration with the country’s direction. They did this in the primaries by voting for Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump–the protest candidates. The message was about the hollowing out of middle America. The more that Mr. Trump was insulting and politically incorrect, the more his backers supported him.
Over at the New York Times, Jim Rutenberg, who famously declared that Trump was such an abomination that the Times would not need to be journalistically objective, remarked humbly and sagely this morning that he and his colleagues had missed one of the biggest story of our times. And you were wondering why the news business is failing:
All the dazzling technology, the big data and the sophisticated modeling that American newsrooms bring to the fundamentally human endeavor of presidential politics could not save American journalism from yet again being behind the story, behind the rest of the country.
The news media by and large missed what was happening all around it, and it was the story of a lifetime. The numbers weren’t just a poor guide for election night — they were an off-ramp away from what was actually happening.
No one predicted a night like this — that Donald J. Trump would pull off a stunning upset over Hillary Clinton and win the presidency.
The misfire on Tuesday night was about a lot more than a failure in polling. It was a failure to capture the boiling anger of a large portion of the American electorate that feels left behind by a selective recovery, betrayed by trade deals that they see as threats to their jobs and disrespected by establishment Washington, Wall Street and the mainstream media.
Again, it was about disrespect and contempt. And it was about the anger one feels when one is disrespected, anger that is so strong that one feels first that one needs to push back against all of those who have been talking down to you. Not just talking down. After all, Hillary was the queen of macho posturing. Read the Times story of her intervention in Libya. She was the apotheosis of leaning in.
The Times deserves some credit for reporting on Hillary in Libya. It was one of the most damning profiles published during the election. It was not about offensive and vulgar behavior, but about conducting foreign policy.
Be clear about it. By electing Donald Trump the nation was taking a gamble. It was gambling that business success could trump inexperience with governance. It was voting to undo the nightmare of bureaucratic regulation and the legislative overreach the Obama administration had visited on the nation.
Speaking for the mainstream media, Rutenberg manifested humility. Enjoy it while it lasts:
John King of CNN proclaimed to his huge election night audience that during the previous couple of weeks, “We were not having a reality-based conversation” given the map he had before him, showing Mr. Trump with a clear opportunity to reach the White House.
That was an extraordinary admission; if the news media failed to present a reality-based political scenario, then it failed in performing its most fundamental function.
And that’s why the problem that surfaced on Tuesday night was much bigger than polling. It was clear that something was fundamentally broken in journalism, which has been unable to keep up with the anti-establishment mood that is turning the world upside down.
Politics is not just about numbers; data can’t always capture the human condition that is the blood of American politics. And it is not the sole function of political reporting to tell you who will win or who will lose. But that question — the horse race — has too often shadowed everything else, and inevitably colors other reporting, too.
Flyover country isn’t a place, it’s a state of mind — it’s in parts of Long Island and Queens, much of Staten Island, certain neighborhoods of Miami or even Chicago. And, yes, it largely — but hardly exclusively — pertains to working-class white people.
They think something is so wrong that all the fact-checking of Mr. Trump this year, the countless reports of his lies — which he uttered more than Mrs. Clinton did — and the vigorous investigation of his business and personal transgressions, bothered them far less than the perceived national ills Mr. Trump was pointing to and promising to fix.
In their view the government was broken, the economic system was broken, and, we heard so often, the news media was broken, too. Well, something surely is broken. It can be fixed, but let’s get to it once and for all.
Good for Rutenberg. Time will tell whether the Times and the rest of the mainstream media take their medicine.
On a somewhat discordant note, the Wall Street Journal editorialized this morning that the government Barack Obama will leave to his successor is in anything but good condition. The new president will feel what Hercules felt when he was tasked with cleaning out the Augean stables.
Eight years of Obama have not only diminished America in the world, they have left the national balance sheet in very poor condition.
I have discussed this before, but the Journal says it well:
Congratulations to the President-elect, whoever you are, because you’re going to need it. Our deadline arrived Tuesday before we knew the election outcome, but not before we can say with confidence that President Obama is leaving his successor a large and growing federal budget problem.
That’s the message in the Congressional Budget Office’s summary, released Monday, of the fiscal year that closed in September. Though the subject barely came up in the campaign—little policy substance did—the federal fisc is once again heading for trouble. There are some lessons in this for the next President, who will quickly realize that Mr. Obama’s fiscal luck has finally run out—on his successor’s watch.
As Mme de Pompadour used to say and as I have long since proposed as the motto for the Obama adminnistration: Après nous le déluge:
The tragedy is that Mr. Obama spent his political capital not on growing the economy but on growing entitlements and raising costs for business via regulation. The next President needs to make faster economic growth the policy default, or every other political priority will be hard or impossible to meet. The deficit burden will get worse faster.
The final major lesson is that the next President can’t count on the continuation of low interest rates. The Federal Reserve has been Mr. Obama’s best friend not named Chief Justice John Roberts as its monetary policies have helped finance a record debt blowout at lower cost. Mr. Obama issued more Treasurys than any President in history, and the Fed bought $1.7 trillion worth from 2009-2014. That helped guarantee there wouldn’t be a shortage of demand.
Or, as the old saying goes, follow the money. It’s far more useful than following the grand historical drama being played out by oversized personae.
My own predictions and prophecies about this election have been as wrong as everyone else’s. This will not stop me from offering up a new prediction: Whatever you expect from President Trump… it will not be what you get.
God save America!