Well, on December 19, our last hope of avoiding Orange Julius Caesar was supposed to be the official Electoral College vote, which various liberal press outlets were telling us might have been subverted, with people like Lawrence Tribe saying at least 30 Electors were discussing voting against Donald Trump. As it turned out, only two (Texas) Republican electors voted against Trump, but not for Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, five Hillary Clinton electors went against her (three for Colin Powell, one for Bernie Sanders and one for a protestor at the Standing Rock site) and others would have voted against Clinton if they had not been shot down by their state officials. So it’s now confirmed: Hillary Clinton is THE worst presidential candidate in American history.
I am now a lot more convinced that (whatever the likelihood) we need to get rid of the Electoral College, not only because the institution that was intended to prevent a foreign-sponsored conniver with “Talents for low intrigue, and the little arts of popularity” from getting the presidency is the vehicle being used to enact that result, but that the ostensible threat of an unqualified candidate becoming the president would not have been possible – in this case and almost any others – if the presidential election was a national popular vote.
In fact- and this is just my theory here, and I’m going out on a limb with it- but it may be that the process of devolving political power to as many citizens as possible serves to make it less likely that bad decisions will be made in government, compared to government by an absolute monarch or cabal. Contrary to liberals, the Electoral College in theory serves two legitimate purposes. The one that we actually pay attention to is that it addresses the interests of states and regional communities as opposed to just collecting a national vote that would give that much more influence to large population centers like California and New York. But the other, according to The Federalist #68, was “that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption” including “the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils [by] raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union”, and BOY did the EC fail there. So the Electoral College may have served the first purpose of federalism/regionalism but by utterly betraying the latter, and far more important, purpose.
But given all that, we all have to figure out where we are, which partially means figuring out how we got here, and then figuring out where to go from here.
Democrats: The lesson here is that the Republicans went out of their way to nominate the most repellent and incompetent presidential candidate of all time, and the Democratic National Committee took that as a challenge.
Basically, a good message beats a bad message, but a bad message beats no message. And on a national level, Democrats really had no message besides “stay the course” (which you may recall, didn’t work for George H.W. Bush in 1992).
As I keep trying to tell people, it is possible for two different things to be true at the same time. It is true that Trump won because enough voters really are that Goddamn STUPID. It is also true that Gary Johnson also ran in 2012 and was not a factor against Barack Obama’s victory, that Obama won two elections against respected Republicans McCain and Romney (despite being a biracial Commie Muslim), and that if your opponent is less intelligent and less handsome than Charles II of Spain, and you can’t convince enough people in enough states that you would make a better president than him, You. Have. FAILED as a candidate.
But even beyond all that, it’s more of an existential issue. Americans are just getting sick of it all. Sick of this bureaucratic, technological society. The “American dream” of decent living standards is getting harder to come by. We have to have more and more qualifications to get jobs that pay less and less. Health insurance, whether employer-based or the ACA, is becoming more and more of a hassle. Streets and shops are more and more crowded. Every telephone service is being run on answering machines and call centers. Bluntly, Americans want a Zombie Apocalypse. They want a Zombie Apocalypse and the related population die-off and technological collapse to set existence back to basics. But since zombies are scientifically impossible, voting for Trump is the next best thing.
Or, there’s another way to look at it.
You might remember that in 2012, after Mitt Romney lost a presidential run to incumbent Barack Obama, the Republican National Committee commissioned a “growth and opportunity project” – more commonly referred to in the press as their post-election “autopsy” – in which the feedback they got in surveys, focus groups and other methods indicated that the GOP was faulty at “messaging”, that young people in particular “are rolling their eyes at what the Party represents” and “many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country.” The proposed solution was for the party to “stop talking to itself,” basically meaning outreach to other people who don’t already agree with the doctrinaire Republican position, as opposed to catering to the stupid bigots fortified by talk radio and alternative media. And the response from the “base” and Republican organizers in the 2014 midterms was “we SHOULD TOO cater to the stupid bigots, because they’re the ones who show up and VOTE, and vote for the hardcore conservatives who fight for us.”
That’s what you had with the Tea Party after Obama was elected, and that’s why Republicans took back both houses of Congress from Democrats. But it still wasn’t enough to win against Barack Obama in the national elections of 2008 and 2012. What Republicans needed to compete on a national level was a leader who represented what they truly believed, a politician who did not project contempt for his “base” but actually embraced and encouraged their stupidity and vulgarity. And then Donald Trump ran for President.
Now, as with the Romney Autopsy, Democrats ought to do the opposite of what they’re being told. That doesn’t mean they should nominate another dull party hack who has no grasp of the victory conditions for a presidential election. It also doesn’t mean you should emulate Republican psychology. You will never top Republicans when it comes to tribal, us-versus-them, persecution-complex, “the only way to stop Satan is to self-lobotomize and vote for the lesser asshole” mentality, and if you try, you will defeat the purpose of claiming to be different from them. But you can learn what they learned from their defeat: First, find the people who will vote for you no matter what, and cater to them. Second, wait for their leader to show up.
You can say that Americans voted for Trump because they were sick of leftist political correctness. You can say that people were tired of losing in the economy and being weak on foreign policy.
The fact is that America, led by the Republicans, has committed a strategic mistake somewhere between invading Russia without winter supplies and producing a Metallica album with no Kirk Hammett solos on it.
This is not the same as the liberals’ previous nightmare scenario in 2000, because while Bush Junior was a dunce and an ideologue, he could at least do outreach to other people. Trump is that much more “my way or the highway” than Bush, and that much more allergic to concepts like “humility”, “foresight” and “learning.” I did not vote for Bush. Either time. I did not agree with most of his policies. But contrary to liberal opinion, he WON Florida, and the 2000 election, and I spoke out against “Bush Derangement Syndrome” and liberals who spouted things like “He’s Not My President.” But then, Bush wasn’t a walking conflict of interest who had his head so far up Vladimir Putin’s ass that it turned his face a non-Caucasian skin color. If Trump’s administration turns out to be only AS bad as Bush’s, it will be a damn miracle.
When Trump’s presidency blows up in your faces like a badly-timed money shot – and with Trump’s temperament, that is a When, NOT If – you are creating a danger that America will end up a one-party state. That one party being the Democrats. Because depending on exactly how things play out, they may get the public support needed to outlaw Republican Party membership as being either associated with treason or as medical evidence of subnormal intelligence.
This isn’t really advice, since, as with the Democrats, I think you’re too stubborn and stupid to take it. I just wanted this on record so that in the aftermath I can quote your prophet and go “See, I Told You So.”
Because if there’s one thing your party has in common with Democrats, it is an overbearing and completely undeserved level of vanity. Specifically, the notion that you will have a permanent majority despite history telling you it never lasts. This is why both parties pass laws to strengthen government on the assumption that they will be able to permanently remake society in their image, only to have all that power given over to their enemies, because people only need eight years or less to get sick of you running things. You should have learned that much from Bush. Of course, you get away with this thinking precisely because the only alternative to one party is to elect the other disagreeable party to the majority, and all Party A has to do is wait for people to get sick of Party B. Then vice versa. There is only one way out of this trap, and that leads to-
Libertarians: The Libertarian Party did not achieve its goal of getting 5 percent of the vote this election, which would have qualified them for federal campaign support (which for Libertarians in particular is a very contradictory goal). It did however achieve 4 million votes, which was the highest vote total for a third-party candidate since Ross Perot in 1996. The Libertarian Party is now the first party other than the Democrats and Republicans to have 500,000 registered members. The fact that the LP achieved this despite the numerous gaffes of candidate Gary Johnson and the tacit support of Hillary Clinton from Johnson’s running mate William Weld indicates that the audience for (L)ibertarian ideas is growing. More broadly, given that about 45% of American voters did not turn out at all, and when two-party politics is based on the premise that “you MUST vote for Candidate A, no matter how rotten they are, because if Candidate B is elected, the world will go to Hell”, and there was more objective evidence for that belief than ever, the fact that Candidate B got elected anyway was, I think, a case of the American electorate calling the political system’s bluff.
However, the trap that the duopoly has placed us in is that either A or B is going to get elected, so the only way to get rid of one party is to replace it with the other, no matter how bad IT is. The only way to really call the bluff is to have a credible alternative in place versus A and B. And in 2016, the Libertarians and other “third” parties were clearly not ready. My advice to them:
As I have said, you need to have a plan for what you would do on Day One, as opposed to being like the Republicans who kept going on for years and years about how they were going to “repeal AND replace” Obamacare, and now that they are in position to DO so, have no plan for a transition besides “your diabetic aunt dies for lack of coverage.”
The Affordable Care Act is also a case study in whether Libertarians can make a proactive case for their philosophy towards government. Even some liberals are willing to admit that the ACA is flawed at least in execution. But the reason it passed in the first place is because it met a demand. If a public demand is not met by the private sector, THAT’s how you get socialized medicine. If there is a better service than the ACA available through the private sector, Libertarians need to promote that. If there IS no such service, Libertarians need to admit that, and look at what we have.
Needless to say, the same auditing process applies to other issues.
Of course in order to be in that position, you need to have representatives in office, not only in a presidential year but in the midterms and the years between. However tempted one may be to think the president can make all the difference, especially with Trump being an outlier in his own party, he still needed a popular and organized party to win, and he needed a base in Congress to make that win count for something. The need for downballot candidates is that much more critical for one reason that became clear in the 2016 election: “ticket splitting” is more rare than ever. And when you don’t even field candidates in a lot of districts, it makes it that much less likely that people will see the point of electing your presidential nominee. So “third” parties need to admit that you need to elect Congresscritters first to get a president, not the other way around. (Incidentally, Democrats: that advice goes for you, too.)
Nevertheless, the Party will need a presidential candidate for the sake of symbolism and the representation of the Libertarian platform on a national level, along with the strong possibility that the 2020 duopoly candidates will be even worse than they were this election. So we have to consider what we need in light of what we learned with Gary Johnson- namely, that the media will focus on a “third” party candidate only for purposes of tearing them down. The party nominee has to be ready for that, and to present their case through “the enemy” without antagonizing too many people by overtly treating the press as the enemy. The nominee has to be someone who is articulate not only on libertarian philosophy but philosophy in general. Someone who doesn’t freeze in the headlights when confronted with a question. The nominee has to be someone who is capable of defending libertarianism and the party platform, but with a good sense of humor. And that means the person nominated has to be somebody who is already media-savvy and with experience in talking to journalists about libertarianism, someone who already has a strong public presence.
I am seriously thinking we should draft Penn Jillette to be the Libertarian Party nominee for President in 2020.
I mean, Penn actually was IN Celebrity Apprentice, and apparently that’s all the qualification you need these days.