a bitter melon

President Trump

Donald Trump has won the US presidential election.

It's a victory that's as surprising as his nomination. Despite the tightening race over the past weeks all predictions suggested a more or less comfortable Clinton lead. Here's an overview from Metafilter user kyrademon right before the elections on November 7:

Metafilter -- Comment 6795450 (Nov 7, 2016)

Poll aggregators that offer an EV prediction --

Daily Kos Clinton 323 EVs
PEC Clinton 313 EVs
538 Clinton 296.9 EVs

Poll aggregators that offer a percent win chance, but not an EV prediction (estimated from their state-by-state data) --

HuffPost Pollster Clinton 323 EVs
Pierre-Antoine Kremp Clinton 323 EVs
NYT Upshot Clinton 322 EVs

Poll aggregators that do not predict either EV or win chance (taken from recent polling with no modeling) -- Clinton 317 EVs
RealClearPolitics Clinton 301 EVs

Expert opinions --

Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball Clinton 322 EVs
The Cook Political Report Clinton 301 EVs

Betting markets (estimated) --

PredictWise Clinton 322 EVs

The Washington Post is appropriately self-flagellating:

The Washington Post -- Donald Trump just blew up the electoral map (Nov 9, 2016)

Trump won all of his “must-win” states, anyway, and then added some states that we barely gave him a chance in, proving that everything we thought we knew about the polls and the electoral map was wrong. Wrong, wrong wrong.

A variety of observers have blamed "the media" for the Trump win:

Fortune -- Yes, the Media Is Partly to Blame for the Rise of Donald Trump (Mar 17, 2016)

[the] wall-to-wall coverage of Trump, his rallies, and his pronouncements — not to mention a lack of confrontation when it comes to his obvious falsehoods or racist proposals — hasn’t fed the growth of that base, and for that the media is very definitely on the hook.

Vox -- Yes, blame the media for Donald Trump. Up to a point. (Jul 14, 2016)

To what degree did outsize media coverage of Donald Trump contribute to his unexpected victory in the race for the Republican presidential nomination? A great deal, according to some vocal political scientists. Not so much, retort many journalists, who insist they report the news rather than shape it.

The Guardian -- Who is to blame for this awful US election? (Nov 7, 2016)

The media clung to its notion that balance required equivalence, so that if Trump wallowed in dishonesty, requiring constant fact-checking, then Clinton had to be treated as equally dishonest

Certainly the media's appetite for scandal and outrage has helped to keep Trump top of mind. And the notion that there must be two sides to every issue regardless of merit can be abused to legitimize the indefensible.

But these structural explanations do not address the fact that the media have overwhelmingly rejected Trump. Major publications came out supporting "anyone but Trump":

Politico -- These Are the Only 6 Newspapers in the Country to Endorse Donald Trump (Oct 25, 2016)

Election year 2016 has been a radically unusual moment in the staid, old-fashioned world of newspaper endorsements. Big newspapers have taken unprecedented steps like "un-endorsing" Trump (a totally new thing in newspaper history); even USA Today has stepped out of its usual neutral lane to tell people that under no circumstances should readers vote for Donald Trump as president. As of this writing, Clinton has more than 200 endorsements from daily and weekly newspapers in the United States. A dozen or so papers have endorsed not-Trump, and one endorsed not-Clinton, but a striking 38 papers have chosen to endorse no one in this presidential election.

The Hill -- Final newspaper endorsement count: Clinton 57, Trump 2 (Nov 6, 2016)

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has received endorsements from 57 newspaper editorial boards across the country, including papers such as the Dallas Morning News, the Arizona Republic and the San Diego Union-Tribune, conservative bastions that have almost always backed Republicans.

It is difficult to square the notion that outsize media coverage has tilted public opinion towards Trump while the media's copious and unambiguous denunciations of Trump have apparently not influenced public opinion at all.

The fact of the matter is that for a very large number of people, the long-cherished bromides about peace, humanity, tolerance, respect and due process have lost their potency. There is a growing disdain of and weariness with an ever-expanding human rights idealism and a deep distrust if not wilful ignorance of the highly abstracted relations that underlie our global value chains.

The rise of the European right is rooted in this skepticism. And perhaps the notion that people can bond and support eachother on the basis of disembodied, selfless idealism does warrant skepticism.

The obvious danger is that the Trump presidency validates and legitimizes the untrammeled exercise and worship of power at the expense of justice and fairness. Power is a potent drug that clouds sober judgment. Without the discipline of accountability -- without the effort to justify and explain -- it feeds a myopic egotism that ultimately destroys the very community it purports to support.



Chris Hedges on TruthDig in August:

TruthDig -- The Revenge of the Lower Classes and the Rise of American Fascism (Aug 8, 2016)

The Democrats are playing a very dangerous game by anointing Hillary Clinton as their presidential candidate. She epitomizes the double-dealing of the college-educated elites, those who speak the feel-your-pain language of ordinary men and women, who hold up the bible of political correctness, while selling out the poor and the working class to corporate power.

Hedges then quotes Richard Rorty’s Achieving Our Country (1998):

Many writers on socioeconomic policy have warned that the old industrialized democracies are heading into a Weimar-like period, one in which populist movements are likely to overturn constitutional governments. Edward Luttwak, for example, has suggested that fascism may be the American future. The point of his book The Endangered American Dream is that members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.

At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. A scenario like that of Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here may then be played out. For once a strongman takes office, nobody can predict what will happen. In 1932, most of the predictions made about what would happen if Hindenburg named Hitler chancellor were wildly overoptimistic.

One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. The words “nigger” and “kike” will once again be heard in the workplace. All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.