Thursday, October 20, 2016

Poll Cats

Yrs trly has had a feeling for some time, which I now commit to pixels, that the election results won't be nearly as close as latest polls indicate.

Yes, this is prompted by a similar growing sense popping up now that the surveys won't tell the whole story. And while more respectable political scientists will point to data gaps and poll lags, my own feeling is based on a certain regard of human nature.

One: there are probably measurable numbers of women who gave pollsters DT's name to keep peace with the men in their lives, knowing all along they'd vote for Mrs. C. We might now add to that number those who were, let's say, notional supporters who now feel duty bound to reject the animal. (And spare a thought to what are likely hundreds, maybe thousands, of relationships nationwide now on the rocks because the male of the household is an inert stone blockhead.)

And, Two: speaking of blockheads, my sense all along that a good percentage of these big-talking Trump fans would, when election day finally arrives, not take their civic responsibility seriously enough to bother even trying to destroy the republic with their votes. There is a reason they're such losers, and a big one is not taking certain important tasks in their lives seriously enough.

This is a problem, though not for Democrats and decent people everywhere. For the Gone Old Party is about to discover that there are hard, real-world consequences for acting on a belief, for years, in patent nonsense. When no one else sees the vermin you do, the exterminator never visits, no matter how much you yell.

And speaking of exterminators, while I put away some time ago my dreams for a House turnover this election, those dreams are back, and I think it'll happen. Again, the notion isn't exactly data driven, but rather the feeling that over the last couple weeks a lot of ex-Republican supporters have come to the conclusion that the party itself is no longer worthy of power above the county level. Thing is: they aren't wrong.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Right Trope Walker

While certain norms have been exceeded this election season, the main one being the bloody end of the GOP, I don't share the deep concern of those like Josh Marshall who fear that the DT campaign has let certain vicious genies out of the bottle forever tainting our Republic.

Mainly this is a stated concern of people under 50, sober, intelligent, well-educated, who have no living memory of what the national mood was like in the early-mid '60s. Unfortunately, I kind of do. Which is to say that very few people now worrying about the Trump effect after Nov. 8, have any grasp of the influence groups like the John Birch Society, KKK, and even the American Nazi Party once had.

People enjoy recalling how Wm. F. Buckley banished the Birchers; and the FBI, and Justice Dept. did a fine job taking down the Klan (while the AmNazis mainly took out each other), with the applied notion that somehow these groups were thereby nipped in the bud. No. They were well-established regional extremist organizations for years before their respective collapses.

Which is to say that the current crop of mean yay-hoos the DT campaign is viciously attempting to gin up is nowhere near the weight of those past failed movements, and should not be showed the respect of fear, or attempted understanding. Losers lose, a lot, and though it may be discouraging that there are so many furious simpletons keen on misunderstanding real life, it is a problem mainly for themselves.

Because, yes, their brand of white Protestant small-stakes culture is dying, but more from its roots, an ingrained suspicion of outsiders, and a patriarchal hatred of things they can't control, than any snide dismissals, like this one, made by outside elites. If any elites betrayed racist, small town America, it was the ones they relied on the most: elected officials who refused to extend federal social services to communities very much in need; churches obsessed with heterosexual probity and female submission in lieu of forgiveness and charity; a popular culture emphasizing national belligerence, patriotic display, guns, big engines, and alcohol consumption, over folk art, history, and community festivals.

Because even if the wider, coastal society didn't offer much to these interior white enclaves, the supposed base of GOP anger, neither did they have much to offer themselves, and the fact that so many fell for a patent conman, a big talking nutjob with his own jet and a fondness for gold leaf interiors, should give you some notion of how successful any political movement growing from the DT campaign will be. Maybe someday they'll come up with someone more like themselves, a plain-talking guy with a cheerful smile and at least a run at coherence to cover the hatred, but, demographically, it may be too late for even that. We'll see.

Yes, some spiteful cretins will threaten and hurt others in the aftermath of Trump's defeat, and promptly end up in jail. Some will attempt to find some justification and meaning in disgrace. But the cat has been belled. It will be very clear going forward who the idiots, useful and otherwise, are, and the losers, unless they give it a rest, will find new ways to utterly fail.

Saturday, October 08, 2016

Making America Grate cont.

What had been an essentially boring presidential campaign in which the outcome was never in doubt has in the last twenty-four hours become pure psycho drama, born on and for TV, reflecting the fundamental unseriousness of the whole exercise.

This is not to say that Mrs. Clinton's campaign is an unserious one, just that the nature of her opponent, and the judgement of too many journalists about her, treated her as at best an imposter, someone with no real business putting herself forward in the way she has, or, worse, a ball-busting criminal, ripe for prison.

That this latter case was made by a ridiculous melange of failures, dimwits, and outright sociopaths, all too clear in their markings even as they were taken seriously, made any considered criticism of her policies and judgement mostly meaningless. See? Not serious.

It has been the single point made over and over for over a decade here at H&J that the GOP was either about to implode, or, as events went forward, in the process of doing so. It is now only a handy conceit of news organizations that the Republican Party is an intact entity at all. This notion could change shortly.

See, a real political party has a coherent voice and trusted standard bearers. It is able to institute policy on the national and local levels in accord with norms that flow directly from our organizing documents. It has a consistent means of choosing leaders on many levels and trusting them with greater power and responsibility, to the party and the nation, as they rise to greater prominence. There is grooming and schmoozing, backslapping and horse trading, and hundreds, nay thousands, of political lunches, dinners, conferences, town halls and fund raising events in which the political animals (and here let me say I have tremendous respect for those politicians who put in the constituent work) are vetted and chosen.

Somewhere along the line, this was something the GOP either forgot, or decided was bullshit. Personally, I start the unwinding of the party on the night in 2000 when that squalid little man and Karl Rove screwed John McCain in the South Carolina primary.

But even here, that the charge that McCain fathered a child with an African-American woman could have carried such conclusively negative weight in the first place, spoke to an illness already raging, a persistent low grade fever that first enabled the worst presidency since the Civil War, also begun in the Palmetto State, and then, once the nation had the good sense to choose Barack Obama as president, became utterly septic to the host.

I've probably said this here before, but at first I thought that electing BHO president opened a door, and it surely did, but it also turned over a rock, and the bugs crawled everywhere. I've also said that the clear knowledge that Hilary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee drove what was left of the GOP, its most coherent (in the sense it held fast) and hateful plurality, into backing a manifest conman, a frankly racist and proudly misogynist jackass, to take up the standard once held by U.S. Grant, William Howard Taft, Ike Eisenhower, and Ronald Reagan.

Put another way, an opportunistic infection took over a gravely weakened patient.

A month ago, when many were worried about the nature of the campaign and the apparent appeal of D. Trump to so many, I was going to say that this is why we have elections, to bring the stupid up and air it out. That we've had such relatively polite contests over the last 120 or so years is more an accident than a matter of essential norms. This year's has been a throwback to the more rank campaigns of the early 19th century, and that's okay.

Because the last time a major political party collapsed we had a war that killed around 600,000 men and maimed many more, and while it is disheartening to see so many now loyal to another lost and unworthy cause, one that draws some identity from the previous one, it is heartening to see that the electoral system works pretty well, and, like a good sewer, is worthy of respect while it handles the most deplorable refuse tossed into it for a long time.

UPDATE: An alternative, though not especially contradictory, view of how political parties work, from Adam Davidson in The New Yorker. To sum up, the GOP is still toast.