Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Silent Majority Strikes Back ... Again

DLL Editor's note -- No Tech Daily today. Like many of you, I'm still processing the meaning of President Trump's unexpected victory yesterday.

P. S. The independent pollsters, the state-of-the-art professionals who constructed complex computer models for their election projections got it all wrong ... and so did their "Data Science" fanboys like me. Why? The pros will probably come up with lots of sophisticated reasons to explain their disaster, but I think the most significant reason will probably be the silence of the Silent Majority. When asked by pollsters over the the course of the last six months who they would vote for, at least half of them didn't say what they were really thinking of doing. I had been concerned by the prospects of 30,000,000 or even 40,000,000 Trump supporters being further alienated by President Clinton's narrow victory. So I was stunned when the 2 am tallies showed that President Trump would eventually obtain at least 60,00,000 votes in the biggest polling upset since President Truman's victory in 1948.

In 1968, Richard M. Nixon was elected President on a "Law and Order" platform wth the support of millions of voters he called the "Silent Majority." The vast majority of those voters were White, and they cast their votes for him as an expression of their fear of what they perceived were the excesses of an overlapping set of social/political movements in the 1960s, mainly: Civil Rights, Hippie culture, and anti-war protests. Like many of my generation, I saw Nixon's election in apocalyptic terms that mirrored the fears of his silent supporters. His election surprised me because I had had no idea that there were so many people who feared what I regarded as corrections to long standing injustices.

Ironically, Mr. Trump's victory last night was sustained by the support of a new Silent Majority. Trump didn't hack the computers that tallied the GOP primary votes, nor did he vote for himself millions of times. He won the GOP nomination fair and square by securing the votes of millions of supporters. How? By being the only candidate who acknowledged the desperation of the GOP rank and file, and by being the only candidate who promised to do something about it. He promised change to people who desperately needed change. Where did I hear such vague promises before? Oh yes. 2008. "The change we need" ... "Yes we can" ... "Yes we can"

As my friends and family will confirm, I became increasingly obsessed with the size of Mr. Trump's support during the primaries and concerned that this support would grow far larger during the general election. I was concerned because of the manner in which Secretary Clinton and scores of her key allies expressed their contempt for Mr. Trump. Yes, like anyone else with a three digit IQ, I could rattle off ten or twenty reasons without taking a breath as to why Donald J. Trump was unqualified to become our next president.  Didn't the Secretary and her allies realize that many, if not most of Trump's supporters also perceived his shortfalls? Didn't she realize that whenever she or her allies denounced Trump's unfitness for office, her next words should have reassured his supporters that she understood their desperation, that she "felt their pain" (as her husband would have said and did say very convincingly many times when he was running for office) and that she was better qualified to produce the changes they so desperately needed than Trump was?

Evidently she didn't understand and neither did her allies because they never presented her as the candidate who could make changes that Trump's supporters needed. This bad became worse when she made her implicit contempt for Trump's millions of supporters explicit by declaring that half of them were "deplorable" embodiments of the vilest forms of bigotry. Worst of all, she proclaimed that her first four years in office would be a continuation of President Obama's eight years. So last night the Silent Majority struck back ... again.

The detailed precinct level voting maps displayed by the CNN stats commentator made it plain that Secretary Clinton lost many of the same precincts in state after state that President Obama had won by wide margins in 2008 and again in 2012. No doubt some of Trump's supporters were racists, but not these good folk who had voted for the first African American president twice. So why didn't they vote for Madame Secretary? Because they wanted more change than President Obama had delivered. A third Obama term wouldn't cut it. They were still desperate, so they needed more change.

The pros "explain" their errors ==>  Wired, Slate, NPR, Business Insider, Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight