For those of you who aren’t friends with me on Facebook, I did most of my political analysis running up to the election there. Since the vast majority of my traffic came when I linked my posts to Facebook, I figured I’d just cut out the middle man. Political novel posts fly during election season, but now that things are done-ish I’ll be mostly shifting back to here. More on that at the end of this post, but for now let’s talk about what we know now that one week has passed since we all heard the words we didn’t expect ‘President Donald Trump’
Election Night Numbers
The first thing I want to address is all the hate that pollsters are getting right now. People are asking, how did the polls get it so wrong? I’m here to tell you that they didn’t and to blame pollsters is to commit a grave error. On the morning of the election Clinton held a 3.5 point lead over Trump. After all the votes are tallied it looks like Clinton is going to win the popular vote by 1.8 points. Since 1968 a 2 point polling error is the average which means the pollsters were actually closer than normal on this one. Now the people who looked at a 3.5 point lead and assigned a 95%-99% chance of Clinton winning? Those people definitely carry some blame.
Unfortunately it’s a near guarantee that in 2020 (Yes, I’m going to talk about 2020, after all the primary season is only two years away) people are going to claim that all the polls are wrong, just look at 2016! That’s not what happened here. Like I said, please blame groups that looked at the polls and gave inflated probabilistic forecasts, but don’t blame the polls. Clinton was roughly a 70/30 favorite on election day, so despite how it’s being spun, this isn’t the greatest upset in American political history.
Looking at a couple additional interesting numbers from this election. Clinton outdid Obama by around 200,000 votes in Florida but still lost the state. Clinton lost Michigan by only 16,000 votes which is notable because in the country in which Detroit is located, she under performed Obama’s 2012 numbers by 60,000 votes. Clinton lost Wisconsin by 60,000 votes and it’s estimated that 200,000 people were turned away from the polls because of the new voter ID laws in the state. If you take Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania combined, Clinton lost those states by just shy of 150,000 votes total which is why she’ll lose the electoral college despite being up in the national popular vote by over a 1.2 million votes and counting. I know a ton people are going to focus on the electoral college, but in all honesty looking at Wisconsin and looking at North Carolina (A state that had 10% less turnout of the black vote than in 2012 after passing voting laws that were struck down in courts for targeting minorities) there are other more winnable legal battles that also have immediate consequences.
I watched Trump’s acceptance speech the next morning. I really was impressed. He struck a nearly humble tone, thanked Clinton for her service to the country with what sounded like sincerity, and discussed infrastructure which wasn’t really a plank of his campaign platform. In an exercise in grasping at straws with a friend I suggested that maybe Trump really had Art of the Dealed the whole country. You start from an extreme position and then through negotiation end up in the middle. Perhaps Don the Con earned that name and the next four years weren’t going to justify the fear. Nancy Pelosi even eagerly came forward saying that Democrats would be happy to talk about an infrastructure bill. That hopefulness of mine lasted precisely four hours, then the theoretical appointments started turning up.
It should be noted that all appointments except three are hypothetical. Several names have been thrown around for Secretary of State. First it was Newt Gingrich, but at least according to Giuliani, the top choice now is John Bolton.  Again, this is a theoretical pick, but it needs discussion. John Bolton, aside from being a Washington insider, establishment politician, and therefor the exact sort of person Trump said he was draining the swamp of, was one the key architects of the Iraq war and instrumental in allegedly falsifying the intelligence that said Iraq had WMDs. Trump made such a huge deal out of how much he knew ahead of time the Iraq War was a mistake and then Bolton gets floated for SoS? We’ve also seen Carson brought up for Department of Education, but Carson has already said no in a statement, “Dr Carson feels he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency. The last thing he would want to do was take a position that could cripple the presidency.”  Which has to be a joke given that he was running for the Presidency, but I digress.
One of the picks we know for sure is Reince Priebus for Chief of Staff. Being the head of the RNC, you can’t get much more establishment than that, so to his supporters that might seem like a slap in the face and another example of his claim of ‘draining the swamp’ being more hollow than the Cheetos Trump is so often compared to. We also know that at least as far as the transition team, not necessarily a permanent post, is Myron Ebell for the EPA. This is a man who thinks climate change is “Silly”, has lobbied with Arizona Congressman John Shadegg on an effort to rewrite parts of the Endangered Species Act to be “more respectful of property rights”, and his current organization The Competitive Enterprise Institute received multiple donations between 1998-2005 totaling 2 million from Exxon Mobile. And yet it’s the third appointment that has me the most concerned for the next four years.
Steve Bannon has been called many things. He’s been called anti-Semitic for not wanting his children to go to a school that had too many Jews. He’s been called a White Nationalist for all his work helping to found and stoke the fires of the Alt-Right. He’s been called a misogynist for publishing articles on Breitbart news blaming women for the wage gap because of their poor interview skills and saying that birth control makes women ugly and crazy. Glenn Beck, yes that Glenn Beck put it this way, “When people really understand what the alt-right is, this neo-nationalist, neo-Nazi, white supremacy idea that Bannon is pushing hard; I hope they wake up because, if not, we are racist. If that’s what we accept and we know it, then we are racist. I contend people don’t know what the alt-right is yet.”
Here’s the thing though. Of all the things in the above list that trouble me, it’s the publishing articles on Breitbart part that legitimately worries me the most. Steve Bannon is the co-founder of the alt right news website and now he’s Chief Strategist in Trump’s White House. Sean Hannity, a close friend of Trump and Fox News contributor, has suggested that CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post shouldn’t get White House press credentials.  Trump is also known to have an extremely adversarial relationship with multiple media outlets. Steve Bannon has the resume of a bigot, but it’s the fact that he’s a bigot with a publishing arm that could easily muscle its way into becoming a state sponsored media outlet with the only access to the White House that has me wondering what the Fourth Estate is going to look like down the road.
Policy Sneak Peak
For the optimists though, Trump continued to throw out scraps, but they need to be identified for what they are. I watched people on MSNBC’s Morning Joe talk about the relief the LGBT community must be feeling about Trump’s comments that he views marriage equality as “Settled law.”  I could point out the oddity of viewing Obergefell v. Hodges as settled but not Roe v. Wade. Instead I want to focus on one of the 20 supreme court justices on the list Trump posted as candidates for Scalia’s spot. William Pryor filed a brief in the landmark Lawrence v. Texas decision decrying not gay marriage, but gay sex as possibly having, “…severe physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual consequences, which do not necessarily attend heterosexual sodomy, and from which Texas’s citizens need to be protected. [There is] no fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy just because it is done behind closed doors” [8 PDF Warning] Trump may not care about marriage equality, but if he puts a man who views two gay men having consensual sex in the privacy of their own home to be spiritually damaging onto the Supreme Court, then the potential damage is out of the President’s hands.
The other Trump soundbite getting a lot of play recently was his apparent softening on the campaign promise to repeal Obamacare.  This came after his meeting with the current President where the two apparently discussed the matter and Obama attempted to impress upon Trump just how vital some of the pieces of the law are. Similar to the issue of marriage equality, this is a thing that even if Trump changes his mind on, I’m not certain it will effect the potential fallout during the incoming administration. Don’t forget how many times Congress has voted to repeal Obamacare and how many of those Congressmen have campaigned on continuing to do just that. Now that they finally have a clear path to doing so, would they stop and give up the opportunity to put that notch on their bedpost? Would Trump go so far in his new view of the law that he would veto such a bill if it didn’t have a replacement plan attached? What will Trump do with Paul Ryan’s new plan to rewrite Medicare while they’re already working on the ACA? One key thing to keep in mind with any new promises Trump makes that might seem moderate, will the Republican controlled House and Senate fall in line or will they continue on the same track they took while Obama was in the White House? Trump doesn’t have to do the damage himself, he just has to not get in the way of other groups much more intent on some of these proposals than he is.
This Blog Moving Forward
You all know how I like titles. I debated about this one because although headlines and puns are not strangers, perhaps this matter was too serious. To quote Who Framed Roger Rabbit though, “A laugh can be a very powerful thing. Why, sometimes in life, it’s the only weapon we have!” I’ve always lived by those words. A laugh can take the sting out of an event that then lets you start to deal with it. When you laugh at a thing, it also sticks in your mind longer. It’s easy to disengage when things are feeling down, but now is not the time for that. I’m going to work to not go too long without posting here myself, but I also want to invite others to do the same.
This has always been a personal blog of mine to just talk about whatever. It turned into more politics because that was the topic I had the most motivation to share my thoughts on. This election has stirred a lot of people into wanting to take a more active roll in things. Starting a blog can be intimidating, so I’m opening up mine. If you want to do a guest spot, reach out to me. This space isn’t much, but if it can be used to help others find and amplify their voices, especially now, then let’s speak up and speak out together.