Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Post-Mortem Part 1

Well, I am as shocked as anybody.  Last night when I went to the NY Times's coverage and saw the probability meter over 80% and then 90% for Trump, I thought I had had too much wine.

Anyhew...herewith is a more cold-blooded analysis of this bloody crazy election.

For Democrats who are reeling, shocked and bewildered, perhaps it is best to start with the basics and layer on the nuance as we go, for it is the nuance that will cut the deepest.

1)  Hillary Was an Awful Candidate - You know it, we all know it.  The first Clinton era was successful by many measures but it was accompanied by a shocking level of tawdriness and slime. People might have forgotten but for the fact that the Clintons did not fade into history but kept feeding at the trough and playing bare-knuckles politics that fed their ambitions at all costs over the span of nearly two decades out of power.  Wikileaks served to remind the nation of 1) that tawdriness, and 2) the raw personal ambition that drives the Clintons.  Was any of this unseemliness able to be hidden under even a modicum of personal flair?  No, not even close, HRC is one of the worst retail politicians of modern times.  Why did the Dems overlook these basic flaws?  I'm not sure that they did.  The improbable success of Bernie Sanders suggest that primary voters felt in their hearts that HRC was a poor candidate.  In the end though, the modern Democratic party is driven by a false god, partly addressed in 3 below.

2)  Obama Bares Much of the Blame - The political left has yet to come to terms with several aspects of the Obama presidency.  First, the political arrogance emanating from Obama and his administration over eight years was, again, astonishing and the left has failed to see it for what it is, dismissing it as bias as they do almost all criticism.  Second, the left fails to see Obama in proper context as, upon election, the neophyte that he was.  Despite raw political talent Obama's resume was appallingly thin.  The nation was happy to overlook it in favor of his charisma and a desperate desire to elect a black President.  In a sense, we all knew that Obama was a gamble, even if we were willing to take it.  The precedent, however, was set that political gambles are more acceptable, even desirable.  Electing a rank neophyte in Obama, regardless how charismatic, opens the door to the next neophyte.  Basically, after Obama the bar was set low.  Finally, the Left has not even begun to entertain an honest evaluation of the tangible results of Obama's policies, mired in a hero-worship that prevents them from admitting that many (most?  all?) of Obama's policies are not successes.  Not having the capacity to be honest with themselves, the electorate felt the need to deliver to the Left the message in the most shocking way possible.

Lefties are going to have to come to terms with the fact that the most talented politician of the era, who was elevated on an air of celebrity, cult-like fawning and the slickest of marketing, presided over the loss of the House in 2010, then the Senate in 2014, numerous state legislatures and governorships in 2014, and topped it off by opening the way for Trump.  The destruction of Democratic political power in the Obama era has been unprecedented and complete, and yet I feel he will always be looked upon as one of the greatest figures the political left has ever seen. When do the scales fall from the Left's eyes?  I don't know.

3) Identity Politics Has Reached Its Endpoint - Racial, gender and ethnic crusading leads down two destructive paths.  First, as I've written before, the knee-jerk accusations of racism, sexism and whatnot when decent people bring legitimate and reasonable notions to the public square ultimately create backlash.  When Mitt Romney is painted as the second-coming of Hitler and any and all policy opposition is always and everywhere evil, people either disengage or come to see public discourse as a bloodsport, so they choose candidates who play nasty.  Non-stop shaming as bigots, homophobes and every form of maliciousness under the sun has created among otherwise normal, decent people a desire to hit back, often with blunt instruments.  Second, obsessiveness of identity categories dulls decision-making.  See above about the Left abandoning any effort to see Obama through a clear lens.  The mistake was repeated with Hillary.  In the name of what most people call "window dressing" (and Dems call making history) Dems were willing to cover and condone a deeply flawed and arguably reprehensible individual in a mad drive to tick a box at the expense of genuine leadership for the benefit of the country. 

There are about a thousand ways to unpack the deeper sociological and political meaning of the 2016 election, but this is a start.


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