• How Trump Lost

    November 15, 2020

    Posted in: 2020, Democracy

    The media, Deep State, big tech, and pollsters did everything they could to sway the vote, opening Brett Kavanaugh’s high school yearbook while closing Hunter Biden’s laptop, weaponizing anonymous sources to gossip on the front page, brought the FBI and CIA deep into the political process (to the point of falsifying FISA applications to spy on American citizens inside the Trump campaign), showcasing performance polijournalism (see the Cuomo Power Bottom Twins, the scrappy Jim Acosta, the righteous Yamiche Alcindor), using social media to edit the public agenda, and purposing the whole of the entertainment industry from late night “comedy” to SNL to advocacy. That includes The Lincoln Project, whose East coast elite drunk frat-boy mockery changed nothing. In fact, Trump won a bigger share of Republican voters than in 2016.

    The big takeaway is how well it was all coordinated this time; no more cowboy Jim Comey tossing an investigative monkey wrench into campaign at the last minute. Hunter’s Mac was deep-sixed faster than you could say “Anthony Weiner’s laptop.” It worked like this: something regularly leaked from inside the intelligence community or military. Another anonymous source speaking to CNN, WaPo, or NYT, whomever didn’t service the initial dead drop, “confirmed” the leak. Blue Check Twitter fluffed the story so the MSM could give it one more kick down the road running reaction pieces. On a good day AOC or Pelosi would pile on, on a bad one day laborers like Avenatti, Cohen or Scaramucci would take the duty. Proof that it wasn’t just bad reporting? How many times did the MSM make a mistake or get caught lying favorable to Trump?

    The pollsters played as well, transitioning to political operatives trying to get voters on the bandwagon. You can imagine smart guys are actually dumb (one major poll had Biden ahead in Wisconsin by 17 points) and hide behind “a massive failure of polling” again, or you can see it was part of a larger plan, right through to the premature pro-Biden “calls” as the vote count drags. The whole thing was so well organized Joe literally did not have to campaign; someone did it for him. Black ops, Mr. Garrison.

    The surprise is how little it all mattered. The much-celebrated state flips involved tiny margins, literal handfuls of votes. Democrats spent more than $315 million to decisively lose six Senate races. They also failed to generate a Blue Wave downballot at the statehouses. The races designed to smite Trump enablers Mitch McConnell, Susan Collins, and Lindsey Graham did not. Ben Crenshaw won and will be running for something bigger in 2024.

    That as uneventful a candidate Biden got as far as a tie was in the end as much about luck as anything. The election was a referendum on Trump, and the idea was to create a Not Trump narrative. Many were tried but failed to scare voters towards Daddy Democrat.

    The Trump as a Russian agent collapsed on lack of evidence not on lack of effort. Its consolation prize to the Dem base, which only thanks to Democratic midterm gains actually made it to formal impeachment, had even less substance behind it. Both ended up comically failing with Nancy Pelosi as Wile E. Coyote suspended in midair as the cliff fell away. Meep meep!

    Tried was Orange Man Bad (bad racist, bad misogynist, bad white supremacist, bad sociopath, bad narcissist) repudiated by 66 million American voters. Trump won more minority votes, 26 percent, than any Republican in 60 years. Exit polls showed Trump’s support rose among women. Actual black voters it turns out are not the same as Black Lives Matter marchers. Some 17 percent of black men voted Trump, up from 13 percent in 2016. Support among black women doubled. Latin support rose by three percent and won Florida. The 2020 electorate was more conservative than in 2016.

    Those voters may have liked Orange Man naming three Supreme Court justices, facilitating more Middle East peace treaties and fewer wars, and at least pre-Covid, growing the economy. They may not all own stocks, but the people who employ them do and the market roared. Even The Economist was forced to admit “Growth never quite reached the lustrous annual rate of four percent he promised, but it did do better than many had forecast, and his tax cut in 2017 turned out to be a well-timed fiscal stimulus. At the end of last year unemployment was at its lowest level for half a century. The wages of the less well paid were rising swiftly.” Absent COVID, this election would have likely been a Trump blowout.

    If instances of bad application of Weimar history were rain we’d all have drowned by now. But the Nazi game got so wearisome it ultimately failed to persuade: lawful border enforcement -> kids in cages -> concentration camps -> Nazi! Or racist dog whistles -> brownshirt cops -> Trump encourages murder -> genocide -> Nazi! Instead, the sky never fell. Yer gay marriage, transgender toilet, and abortion rights were untouched. Paul Krugman at the NYT wrongly predicted a pre-WWII depression/severe recession six times in the four years, nearly praying for a Kristallnacht to bring down Trump. A non-exaggerated favorite from another NYT columnist made the jump in one step: “Trump says he wants to protect law-abiding citizens -> In 1933, Hitler issued his ‘Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State.'”

    There were no militia-organized suppression, no end of democracy, no civil war, no boogaloo, no Reichstag fire. Attempts to fan the BLM flames into any of that fizzled when even Democratic mayors figured out few voters were pleased to see their cities burn. The narratives were all wrong but they were never meant to be right. They were intended to influence.

    One narrative did stick, and if Dems take the White House success will be owed to their ability to create a radically misleading version of the pandemic, dovetailing perfectly with H.L. Mencken’s advice “the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” Exit polls are clear voters had the pandemic and its economic effects on their minds. How that was translated in the vote was somewhere between mass paranoia (someone has to be to blame!) like when witches were burned following natural disasters, and crude politicization of tragedy.

    The narrative evolved. At first “flatten the curve” was about reducing hospitalizations to not overload the system. Somehow a metric that would go down got replaced with dramatic case numbers which forever go up, even as the danger of being a case decreased.

    Despite evidence from Europe and Asia of tactical steps proving effective (anyone still alive in Sweden? Yes?) Democratic governors fell into broad lockdowns to press votes toward Biden by ramping up fear of an invisible enemy. Reality was an inconvenience for like the Russians, the mass graves and two million dead never appeared. The tens of thousands of ventilators and hospital ships were never needed. Everyone in unmasked Florida did not die. Lockdowns became punitive not palliative. Democrat leaders sacrificed their economies to ensure things stayed worse and a sense of crisis was maintained; the only other explanation is leaders in California and New York were too dumb to imagine what might happen if they drove away commerce, businesses, residents, and with them, their tax base.

    The real con was while devastating political decisions were made at the local and state levels blame was leveled at Trump. The meme was established early, even before anyone was the nominee, when in February the NYT sent up the Bat Signal, titled “Let’s Call It Trumpvirus” (subtlety is not required). There’s irony in knowing  the word “influenza” comes from the Italian word for “influence” even as things reached peak fear mongering when Trump was accused of literally killing Americans via his superspreader event rallies.

    A Columbia University report claimed a better Trump response could have avoided up to 210,000 deaths, something like a 90 percent reduction. Deeper reading shows the claim is based only on a statistical model of population and deaths in several countries. Left out of the mix is how those European and Asian countries do not suffer America’s fractured healthcare system and immense health and social disparities. Poorer base health = more COVID deaths. The US also lacked those places’ central authority to nationally require masks, quarantines, open or closed schools, etc. Nonetheless, the “excess” American deaths were blamed on “politicization, leadership vacuum, and the failure of top officials to model best practices.”

    That tracked well with the original campaign meme of Trump vs. COVID. Election day would tally up the deaths with whomever was the Democratic candidate as a slightly interested bystander.

    The problem is the meme shifted from “Trump is the problem” to “Biden is the solution” as frightened strategists searched for something for Biden to stand for. So now the expectation is, if he wins, Biden, will presumably end politicization, fill the leadership vacuum, and model best practices to tidy things up. We will all be part of a mega-reveal of how much of the crisis was exaggerated. Watch for some magic improvements now that COVID no longer is needed for the election.

    Then come the real costs of the Democratic strategy — vast economic damage to major cities via the diaspora of workers, millions fewer people working than in February, barely more than one-third of pupils attending school normally, with hunger and poverty on the rise. The forces which created the narrative that will perhaps send Biden to the White House ended up gifting him a lousy starting position. He’ll need the luck of a long tailed cat stuck in a room full of rocking chairs going forward. As Biden learned when he and Obama took over the Bush financial crisis in 2008, the American people will only grant a brief pass before it becomes your crisis.

    And if any of that seems like a good thing, the better of two evils, the way you want to choose your government, message me. I hear The Lincoln Project is looking for interns.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

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  • Recent Comments

    • John Poole said...

      1

      Obama from the git go bailed out only the rich and yet regular folk gave him a second term. Political predictions seem to ignore the fact that the American voter can often be an illogical critter. Biden may be given a pass until Kamala Harris is sworn in or they both could be driven out of DC on a rail. Trump might form a rump government. A permanent confederacy of right wingers might finally secede. Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” come to mind.

      11/15/20 1:26 PM | Comment Link

    • John Poole said...

      2

      I guess the warning that a free press is necessary to sustain a democratic republic didn’t mean a press free of biased advocacy.

      11/16/20 3:32 PM | Comment Link

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