As I type this (I started writing this at almost 2 am and now I am finishing it at 6:30-ish, realizing the worse has come to pass), I’m watching the cluster-fuck/train-wreck that is the showdown of the presidential election. I was hoping to go to bed about 11 last night. I was hoping and assuming (had the polls had been correct, as I’ll get to in a moment) to be in bed hours ago, satisfied with the inevitable of Hillary Clinton as president-elect. As I type, not so much. Ugh.
So, some thoughts, in no particular order:
- Fuck the pollsters, fuck the 538s of the world. Fuck all of them. I don’t know what happened, I’m sure we will hear more about it all in the coming days and weeks, and the problems of relying on “big data” alone are clear here. We can and will debate the details, but I will never look at 538 or a similar site and say “hey, they’re predicting a 90% win for Clinton, I guess that’s all good.” These sites are useless. My hope (and expectation, frankly) is they will go out of business, which is what Nate Silver and his smug-assed types deserve. As Mike Murphy (an NBC politico) just put it, “tonight data just kind of died.” Well, where is this data coming from? The data didn’t die as much as the data collectors. Fuck those people.
- This election result makes too clear that the U.S. is a very very racist and sexist and divided country, even more so than I thought before. Too many white people fear non-white people, and too many Americans (mostly men, I assume) are afraid of the idea of a woman being in charge. And we are a very very dumb country in that we have managed to elect someone with no experience and slogans that make Pedro’s run for student council president seem entirely about him being a policy wonk, someone who bragged about grabbing pussy, someone who is involved in countless lawsuits and is likely to be involved in many many more scandals and messes. This is disturbing.
- I don’t worry that much about me or my family, but I worry about the people around me. A few hours before I settled in to write this, I wrote about a crazy situation where some African-American students are potentially going to be expelled for conducting a peaceful protest against some hate speech painted on the side of some buildings on campus. I could not believe that this was the path EMU administrators were taking. But now, just a few hours later, this seems like the kind of thing that is going to happen over and over into the foreseeable future.
- Media and technology matters. Trump won because he understood and used Twitter better than anyone, and he was also able to convince the mainstream media places that it was just fine to call in for interviews and so forth. Journalism wants to be a revered “fourth estate,” and they simultaneously want to make money from the celebrity of Trump. I know they can’t be taken seriously at the same time.
- There are a ton of “what-ifs” that are interesting yet futile to think about. What if the Republicans had nominated a reasonable candidate, say a Jeb Bush? What if Sanders had actually gone after Hilary on her emails– would Bernie had been the candidate? And would he had won? What if Joe Biden had gotten in and made a run at it? No idea. Anyway, we could go on and on and on.
- I’m unbelievably proud of my son who has thrown himself into the college Democrats at the University of Michigan. He worked really hard on trying to make a difference here, and I hope he doesn’t stop that. If anything, I hope this result motivates him; it certainly makes me think that I need to get motivated and to be a little less complacent and cynical about how these things work.
- Hell if I know what’s going to happen next. I want to believe that our political system of checks and balances can prevent the worse and that Trump will govern differently than he ran. I want to believe that we are in for four or more years of what I have described as a “hot mess” of a presidency– scandals and controversies and criticism of Trump from both sides. The left and the likes of me are obviously not going to be happy, but when Trump is unable to fulfill any of his major campaign promises about deporting foreigners or building walls or whatever, the nut-job majority that got him into office in the first place is going to revolt as well.
- I think I might just go back to bed for a few years.
2 thoughts on “FWIW, some thoughts on the 2016 presidential election”
Silver did say (last week?) that if the polls were going to be wrong they were going to all be wrong in the same way. And lo, they were,sadly.
That’s fair in some sense, but you know what? I don’t care. The false confidence all those polls gave the likes of me is unforgivable. I’ll never look at fivethirtyeight again.