How could she have lost? The game must have been rigged. If the game wasn’t rigged, the people are stupid. If the people aren’t stupid they are suffering from a mental disease or defect.
Such are the arguments put forward by Hillary Clinton’s supporters. No sentient rational being could have voted for Donald Trump. If people did, in large numbers, they cannot be either rational or sentient.
Besides, Hillary Clinton did win the popular vote. Which is little consolation when popular vote only counts on a state-by-state level. American presidents are not elected by the popular vote.
If you look at the votes for members of Congress you will see that Republicans won the aggregate of those votes by a considerable margin. And they control the governorships and legislature in a large majority of the states. Apparently, the Democratic message has been ringing hollow.
Or better, the politics of defamation does not seem to work. The Democratic Party will not revive itself until it overcomes the tendency to double down on a failed policy—defaming anyone who doesn’t agree with you as a bigot. Call it bigot-shaming, if you like. But shaming your opponents is not working for the Democrats. Even Rabbi Michael Lerner, a liberal Democrat if ever there was one, has understood the point.
Instead of challenging this ideology of shame, the left has buttressed it by blaming white people as a whole for slavery, genocide of the Native Americans and a host of other sins, as though whiteness itself was something about which people ought to be ashamed. The rage many white working-class people feel in response is rooted in the sense that once again, as has happened to them throughout their lives, they are being misunderstood.
As of now, around a third of the Democratic members of Congress come from three states, California, New York and Massachusetts. They come from places where groupthink reigns supreme, and where seldom is heard an encouraging word ... for any difference of opinion.
Also, as Tyler Cowen writes today on the Marginal Revolution site (via Maggie’s Farm) the electoral college guarantees diversity, that is, geographical diversity.
The original thinking behind the Electoral College was that geographic diversity was important. The Founding Fathers were not majoritarian, but rather they believed in placing special weight on diversity of this kind. The prevailing view was “if too many (geographically) diverse voices veto you, you can’t get elected, not even with a majority of the votes.” That view was a strange and perhaps unlikely precursor of today’s veto rights/PC approach on campus, but there you go.
Democrats now control at least one legislative house in only 17 states, and the reach of the party is shrinking dramatically. So by the 18th century standards of diversity, emphasizing geography, the Democratic coalition is remarkably non-diverse. You can see how much of Hillary Clinton’s majority came from the two states of New York and California. That also means the Republicans are not just a “Southern rump party,” as some commentators used to suggest.
So, diversity did win out. Hmmm.
The question that is now tormenting many of our best minds today is: how did it happen? How did it happen that Hillary lost? If the election was not rigged, then clearly many of America’s citizens are off their meds. If they are not off their meds they are allowing themselves to be led around by their fear and anxiety. Which is pretty much the same thing.
Have you noticed that explanations for the Trump victory mostly tend to emphasize the irrational and the emotional. Of course, it’s a way of shaming people.
It is a long and complicated debate, but serious thinkers have given up on reason. They want to jettison the Enlightenment. They have followed the cues of behavioral economists and have concluded that reason, and its handmaiden free will, are seriously overrated. They insist that we can explain human behavior by studying the irrational and emotional underbelly that is really running the show.
Keep in mind, when the behavioral economists say that irrational forces are controlling human behavior they are also saying that they, a class of Platonic guardians, can do a better job. They are saying that you cannot be trusted to make rational choices. Whatever else you think about the Obama administration, it was inhabited by a class of people who believed themselves morally and intellectual superior to everyday citizens. These people believed that it was their duty to tell everyone what to do.
Whatever the issue, there was no need to consult with Congress and there was no need to get Congressional approval or consent. They did not make treaties, which would need to be approved by the Senate, but deals which did not.
Executive orders smack of imperial overreach. To the great chagrin of Democrats, executive orders can be undone with a stroke of the pen.
There are many ways to see the election. And there are ways to consider that those who voted for each candidate had good Reason to do so. If you consider that the Democratic Party candidate was running on a governing philosophy that infantilized the electorate by declaring that the government could solve all problems, it makes sense to say that the Republican reaction was, as I have suggested, a push back against this governmental overreach. And against the assumption that an educated elite knew better how everyday people should conduct their lives.
Theirs was a perfectly rational decision. If you vote for less government intervention and interference in your life you are making a rational choice. It might be for the best. It might not. But it is not driven by emotion.
If over-reliance on government tends to demoralize, and thus to depress you, then taking personal responsibility is, dare I say, therapeutic.
Is there an emotional side to the decision? Of course, there is. But that does not make it the wrong decision. It means that sometimes emotion serves reason and that sometimes emotion offers reason a nudge in the right direction.
Writing in Reason Scott Shackford explains that those who rejected the candidacy of Hillary Clinton were really rejecting her governing philosophy:
But a deeper dive suggests that actually, in the end, she does stand for something, and that's government intervention in every single problem that exists, anywhere. It may not seem like policy played a role in this election, but I suspect in the end that's like saying that water plays no role in fish behavior. It was always in the background.
Clinton's campaign pushed out several policy memos and briefs, and what they all had in common is that they called for federal involvement in every single solution, with very few exceptions. She is known for being an interventionist in foreign policy, supporting military action in Syria and Libya and elsewhere. If she thought any particular outcome was a good idea, she wanted to a federal law to make it happen or a government subsidy or grant to push it along.
As the Democratic Party struggles to figure out what it's going to stand for now, we're going to see a lot of "progressive vs. centrists" framing. What matters for Americans who are looking from outside the party is that this is going to be a fight over how much government control over our lives the Democratic Party will continue to embrace. Just because Clinton was considered a "centrist," that didn't make her better on liberty than Sanders. In the ideological fight over "authority vs. liberty," so many people attempting to shape the future of both parties have a vested, career-based stake in making sure "authority" wins.
Maybe there’s a limit to how much the people want the government to do for them. If you believe that the government must do things for you, you are saying that you cannot do them yourself. The problem with having a government program to solve all problems is that people loses the habit of trying to solve problems on their own.