Friday, November 11, 2016

Donald Trump Scores Historic Upset, Demonstrates the Power of Populism

On Tuesday, Donald Trump scored an historic political upset winning the Presidency with 290 electoral votes.   Although Hillary Clinton narrowly won the popular vote, she could only garner 232 electoral vote.  Trump's victory included successes in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, states that were seen to be, at best, on the outskirts at being obtainable by Trump.

But the White House wasn't the only success Republicans enjoyed on Election Night.  Republicans won competitive Senate races all over the country, netting a loss of only two in that chamber despite the enormous hurdle of defending many more seats. Republicans retain control of the Senate with a 52-48 margin.  The Republicans lost only a handful of seats in the House, retaining a  signficant majority in that body.

Trump's victory defied the odds.  Many commentators suggest Trump's victory is the biggest upset since the 1948 Truman-Dewey contest which was won by President Truman, despite polls suggesting Dewey would win in a landslide.  But polling in 1948 was in its infancy.  Polling in 2016 is much more sophisticated and the number doing has increased substantially.  Although Trump led in some national polls, in the key state polls, the only thing that counts with our electoral college system, all polls pointed to a Clinton Electoral College win. ( Yours truly also missed the result.)  I think the Trump upset was bigger upset than the Truman victory in 1948.

Of course, many Trumpkins insisted the polls were being "rigged."   The notion that all these independent pollsters got together to risk their reputations by putting their finger on the scale to show Clinton leading is pure silliness.  In reality, this election demonstrated the Achilles Heel of polling - turnout.  No matter how hard pollsters try to take into consideration turnout by identifying "likely voters," the methods employed have never worked very well.  In 2016, much like 1994 and 2000, Republicans went to the polls while Democrats, especially African-Americans, a key Democratic constituency, stayed home.  As a result, the polls those years, and this year, were way off.

It is interesting that it didn't seem to matter if Republicans embraced Trump or ran away from him, they didn't pay a price at the polls.  They won nonetheless.

Some other observations.  Trump's victory shows the power of populism.  I have long argued that the Republicans needed to stop kowtowing to big corporations and the Chamber of Commerce and start paying more attention to working men and women.  Main Street and less Wall Street. Trump showed that the populist message was shown to be extraordinarily popular.  I am hoping that filters down to the state and local level so we can knock off some of the pay-to-play corporate welfare schemes that are soaking taxpayers.

As a Never Trumper, my problem with Trump wasn't so much his message (though his hostility to free trade and immigrants is something I will never embrace) but the messenger.  A cursory comparison of Trump's words versus his actions showed him to be a hypocrite time and time again. Although Trump complains about Hillary's dishonesty, his supporters ignored Trump's own extreme dishonesty.  During the campaign, I, accurately, called Trump a lifelong con man.   Certainly there is no doubt that Trump is a sexist and may well be every bit the sexual predator that Bill Clinton was and probably still is.  Probably the most appalling claim to swallow is that Trump who has a lengthy history of, at every opportunity stiffing his employees and the small business owners with which his companies contract, is the defender of the American worker.

All those complaints about Trump though have to be put aside while he is given the chance to succeed that he earned Tuesday night.  That does not mean,  however, that cherished American principles should be put aside. There are non-negotiables.  During the campaign, Trump expressed a preference for authoritarian rule.  He praised dictators who kill their political opponents and repress freedom.  Trump talked about if he won using the instruments of government to go after his political enemies, most prominently jailing his opponent Hillary Clinton.   He said Americans have too much freedom of speech and that their right to criticize public officials should be sharply curtailed by changing libel laws.  Trump demonstrated he does not even have a high school civics understanding of the Constitution and cares not one bit about the constitutional limits on the power of the Presidency.   American freedom and civil liberties is non-negotiable in my book.  Trump cannot cross that line and try to become another Mussolini.  The reference to the Italian dictator is nothyperbole.  I think it quite possible that Donald Trump, who openly envies the dictators, may try to adopt dictatorial powers.

Finally, an observation about the Democrats.  Going into the 2016 election, Democrats insisted that the Republican Party was failing and needed to reinvent itself if it was to survive  Yet, the record showed Republicans enjoying extraordinary success, especially since Obama's election in 2008.  On the evening of the 2016 election, the GOP held a record number of Governorships, state legislative chambers, and controlled both houses of Congress, the House of Representative by a margin not seen in some 80 years.  But by having the White House, the Democrats were lulled into thinking that everything was fine with their party despite an electoral record that demonstrated otherwise.  Now that the Democrats have lost the White House, and are about to lose the Supreme Court, they may finally be answering that wake up call they have been ignoring for the last several years.


True Republican said...

We are tickled pink that "Saint Evan" Bayh will not be going back to Washington! But with the victory of Eric Holcomb as Governor that is not cool! This is nothing but bad! He has Brian Burdick on his transition team!

Nicolas Martin said...

Glad to see that Trump has come out solidly in favor of transgender bathroom freedom. This will inspire the faithful.

Dave Crutchfield said...

Creep vs Crook. Obnoxiousness vs Corruption. Inexperience vs Failed Experience. I think what stuck in the craw of many was being labeled racist, hater, domestic terrorist, clinger, deplorable, etc., because we dare to think government too big and we follow the Constitution too little.

Does Trump seem like the poster child for fixing this? Only if you're in a voting booth facing Hillary as the alternative.

Anonymous said...

Trump got the white nationalists to vote. Making the country great with neo-nazis being empowered? Shame.

leon dixon said... As long as Paul is coming up for air might as well blown him over over his down ballot predictions while we are at it. And, Indiana Democrats really do need to purge themselves of losers, losers, losers. What they have to sell is something no one wants. ISTA cheats Hoosier kids, parents and taxpayers. UAW steals Hoosier pension dollars (aided by the soon to be senior Senator...a one term pro abort Catholic). USS paid the price for being uncompetitive and corrupted all of NW Indiana. If you ever attend a D convention and abstract these three public enemies out of it, there ain't nothing left. Oh, a few trial lawyers who mostly kiss up to the abstracted what?

True Republican said...


Are you saying Trump is Pro-Tranny?

Anonymous said...

When this country becomes Saudi Arabia with a different a God maybe you idiots will realize what freedom means. It doesn't mean making everyone live by your religious dogma. Hope it's not too late.