November Surprise

Some of the latest polls are suggesting that Donald Trump might win the Presidential election. That would seem to be the greatest surprise in U.S. presidential elections at least since the Dewey-Truman election of 1948, but the closeness of the election isn’t all that much of a surprise to me, for a number of reasons.

First, what appears to be an overwhelming majority of non-college educated white men are angry, really angry, for a number of reasons. Older men in this group feel that they’ve had the economic rug pulled out from under them by the change in manufacturing technology and the globalization of the world economy. Younger men in this group are having a hard time finding even halfway decently paying jobs. Both want to blame somebody, and they don’t want to listen to anything realistic about what has happened and why. It’s much easier to listen to the wild and impossible promises of a candidate who also seems to share their feelings.

Second, there are the younger people, many of whom were attracted to Bernie Sanders. They’re facing or already enduring the high cost of education, or even precluded from that education by the higher costs… and they want that changed now, and many of them feel that Hillary Clinton denied them to chance to vote for Bernie Sanders, the candidate who promised what amounts to educational pie-in-the-sky. And while Trump isn’t promising them much, except “good jobs, lots of wonderful good jobs,” or some rhetoric to that effect, a number of the younger voters appear disinclined to vote for Clinton because she won’t go so far as Bernie in what she promises.

Both groups want everything, and they want it now, even if it’s financially, legally, and economically impossible.

Then, there’s the “elephant in the room,” the elephant – and it’s not the GOP, at least not this time — is the fact that much of the United States retains a patriarchal mindset, so much so that, as I’ve repeatedly noted, Clinton gets blasted for being the untruthful one, when Trump’s lies and misstatements are more than twice as frequent as hers. As one of my readers noted, she’s being investigated for acts that weren’t even questioned when male Republican politicians did the same things, and, also, interestingly enough, those who are flocking to third party candidates are rallying around the men, despite the fact that the sole “national-level” independent woman appears to be far better qualified than either of the two leading male “independents.”

I’m getting this feeling that all too many voters in the U.S. would rather have a womanizing, crude, lewd, cheating, unscrupulous, and incompetent male than a competent woman who has a few flaws in that she exhibits some, but not all, of the characteristics of almost all male politicians. I’m hoping that this blatant misogyny doesn’t result in Trump’s election, but if he’s elected this next Tuesday, don’t say I didn’t tell you. Even if Clinton wins, if the election is as close as it appears, that also says a great deal about too many American voters, and what it says is less than favorable in all too many ways.

But then, I’m just a writer who spent almost twenty years in politics. I really don’t understand why an incompetent lying “fresh face” that’s male is to be preferred over a somewhat flawed but competent and experienced woman.

18 thoughts on “November Surprise”

  1. cremes says:

    “… a competent woman who has a few flaws in that she exhibits some, but not all, of the characteristics of almost all male politicians.”

    I rest my case. None are so blind as those who will not see.

  2. JM says:

    There is no case to rest. Never in the existence of mankind has there been a time when everyone could understand each other. Your comment is a prime example of that. As is America’s current political situation.

    TL;DR It is not a question of blindness. It is a question of who is looking.

  3. Devildog says:

    Your analysis is too complex. Trump’s (and Sander’s for that matter) candidacy is simply a rejection of the current political status quo. There is no real difference between the mainstream Republican and Democratic party. The real economy has been stagnant since the early 90’s and has only thrived on one bubble after another (I can count three of them) in the last 25 years. Hillary may be competent but she is bought and paid for. Trump may be the biggest knucklehead in the world but he does not appear to be bought and paid for. If Hillary wins, the next election may border on a political party revolution not seen since the Civil War.

    1. While I would agree with you to the extent that many voters are voting for Trump as a rejection of the current political status quo, I have to disagree with you about there being no real difference between the Republican and Democratic parties. They are similar in that each kowtows, if in different ways, to power and privilege, but they’re very different in their approach to issues vital to tens of millions of Americans, such as voting rights, economic opportunity, law and order, minority rights, women’s rights, and immigration, just to name a few. Those who see “no real difference” are generally those who support Trump, because the issues he trumpets are the only ones that matter to them. They certainly have that right, but claiming that there’s no real difference is not only false, but disingenuous.

      1. Devildog says:

        I don’t think that it is disingenuous that neither party has the will to make meaningful tax reform. It is not disingenuous when neither party is willing to admit that Free Trade as currently being negotiated and executed has been a big failure for the United States worker of all genders and races. Republicans spend more money than we bring in taxes and Democrats really spend more money than we do in taxes. Neither Party’s leadership has the will to change the economic course that country has charted for itself. When the economy breaks down, no one is going to care about economic opportunity, women’s rights and immigration policy legal or illegal or whatever. Is Trump the answer? Maybe or maybe not. But I do know that current way of doing things as represented by Hillary or Bush or Romni, Boehner, Ryan is not.

        1. What you know is a partial truth. The Economist did an in-depth series of articles and analyses on free trade. The bottom line is that free trade has reduced the price of goods to Americans by some 40%, but it’s also cost some six million former industrial workers their jobs. It’s a disaster if you’re one of those workers; it’s a benefit if you’re one of the more than 250 million Americans who aren’t. And the reason why we’ve got deficit financing from both parties is, as I’ve noted for years, because voters have always voted for representatives who promise more federal programs and lower taxes, regardless of party — and Trump’s essentially promising the same thing.

          1. Devildog says:

            The cost of goods and the price of said goods have no relationship with each other than one cannot keep producing goods for more than one can charge for said good. So, I reject that industrial globilization has helped the United States consumer in any meaningful way. if that was the case than a pair of shoes from one of our famous sportswear companies would be a fraction of the price that they charge because their cost production is so cheap. I work in an industry that supports manufacturing world wide. I personally deal with trade barriers where none should exist. Globilization of trade will only work when every partner in said trade agreement agrees to and abides by the same set of rules regarding wages, ecological considerations and safe working conditions (e.g sweatshops, slave labor etc). I really was a fan of free trade when it was introduced but it has not helped the international worker raise his/her standard of living but instead has eroded one of the key foundations of our economy. Trump is the only one talking the same language that our international competitors continue to speak.

  4. Daze says:

    Excepting the prospect of DJT pressing the nuclear button in a fit of pique, I have long contended that his election, like Brexit, will be good for the planet, because a prolonged recession will slow global energy consumption much more effectively than the Paris accord. Might not be as good for a lot of the people who voted for them.

    1. Matt says:

      I think that Brexit is more clear. The only good thing about a Trump presidency is that it will guarantee a Democrat majority in the midterm elections and the next Democratic Presidential candidate will come in with a strong Senate/House to work with… which they’ll lose in the midterm elections again.

      Honestly, I’m patiently waiting for this stuff to become as irrelevant as I think it already is. I’m too much a futurist to think that the president will change anything but timing. In fifty years, all of this stuff will seem childish.

  5. Matt says:

    It’s so easy to claim evil intent, but the reality is not that these people are misogynistic (isn’t it easy to claim hatred in others?), racist (though there is some of that), or some other character defect.

    I try to remember something whenever I disagree with something at such a base level as these items: Nobody believes they are evil. When you claim misogyny, they see reasons why that person is unqualified. What you see as a racist, womanizing, lewd, cheating, and whatever else candidate, they see someone who is putting forth a character. That’s not what he’s really like.

    The ease at which we claim evil intent in others (and they see Democrats as just as selfish and naive as we see them), but ignore the same hatred in those we agree with. We want to say they exclude, while we include… everyone but them, who we exclude with far more intensity, anger, and hatred than they do.

    Yes, they are misinformed, but so are we on the left. Yes, they are full of hate, but we’re full of hate too, we just cover it up with a bow and make it look pretty. We label ours “privilege”. We label theirs as misogyny and racism. Neither is right or productive to our society and we need to figure out how to get rid of them both. Until we can understand their world view without treating it with contempt, we’ll never have a chance at bridging the gap. We’ll never undo what years of Fox (Faux?) ‘News’ has done. We can’t replace what we see as their misogyny and racism with “checking white male privilege”, because that’s the same thing.

  6. John Prigent says:

    I’ve been watching from the other side of the pond with great interest. It does look to me as if there’s a significant number of US voters with the same attitude as outs had in the Brexit vote – sick and tired of those who ‘know better’ telling us what to do. And in the US case there’s been a significant anti-Hilary feeling ever since she abandoned your men in Benghazi to be massacred; that’s how her stopping of the rescue effort was seen by many. It will be even interesting for us to see how US politics change after 8 November. For the better, I hope, regardless of which side wins.

  7. darcherd says:

    This election simply makes me sad for my country. It’s as if I’m watching a beloved family member, one who I still love and used to respect, slipping inexorably into madness and feeling helpless to stop it. There will be no winners from such a polarizing and vicious contest.

  8. R. Hamilton says:

    The problem with Hillary is NOT being a woman; if Condaleeza Rice were interested, she’d be outstanding, as would Jeane Kirkpatrick if she were still alive, or Margaret Thatcher if she were still alive and had been a US citizen.

    The problem with Hillary is Hillary; and Bill isn’t worth much either. As far as I’m concerned, better the devil I _don’t_ know (Trump), regardless whether or not patriarchal and perhaps even a bit pandering to bigots. Both are promising the impossible, but at least Trump isn’t promising so much of what I don’t want (more freebies for the truly useless) out of my pocket.

    1. darcherd says:

      And R. Hamilton demonstrates one of the core elements of Trump’s support, above, to wit: The feeling that the old “deal” where if you worked hard and played by the rules, you would be able to support a family for life, has been subverted by people who are “useless” and are somehow jumping the queue to get government benefits at the expense of the hard-working, solid citizens.

      Whether or not you agree with that representation as a valid one and truly indicative of the situation in America, there is no denying that a large number of people feel that way, and they believe, against all evidence, that Trump offers a solution.

      Add to that the racist and misogynistic elements, and Trump has found a sizeable following. It would be foolish to say that every Trump supporter is a racist and/or dislikes women, but it would be equally foolish to deny that virtually all the white racists and misogynists support Trump.

      1. Frank says:

        White racists probably support Trump by a huge margin (but not “all”); misogynists I rather doubt. Not in their defense, but I wouldn’t think that the rational connection would be enough to make the difference.

        R. Hamilton’s comments do conjure the “old paradigm” you cite, but is that unreasonable? I understand that the world economy may have “moved on” and there simply aren’t the decent jobs that do not require significant technical skills/education available in the numbers to keep up, however, there does seem to be a severe lack of “work ethic” in far too many of those post baby-boomers. This same lack is reflected in LEM’s claim, with which I agree, that most of the voting public want more than they are willing to pay for and seem OK with political slight of hand instead of hard explanations.

        This is first election that I know I will be disappointed in the result…no matter how it turns out.

      2. R. Hamilton says:

        For these purposes, I mean “useless” as shorthand for someone that takes more than they give, despite being physically and mentally able to do more and take less; or any non-citizen that takes from citizens more than they give.

        That seems pragmatic enough to me: if they’re an ongoing burden on other citizens, they’re close enough to useless for practical purposes. If someone cares specifically about them, then that someone should be looking after them if they can’t or won’t look after themselves. For that matter, if some private charity sees them as more than a really bad investment, they can do that too, and I _might_ even support them (I have before). But IMO, a nation’s society as a whole should not be compelled to provide open-ended support to its members.

  9. TOM says:

    Dear Mr Modesitt Jr,
    Do you or your publisher have any idea of the demographics of your readers? If so would you be willing to share this information? Perhaps just the demographics of your critics? I like reading your writing, even when I disagree with you, even your blogg.

    1. There’s never been a study of my demographics, but from what I can tell from the readers I’ve met over the years, the only “common” denominator that most of them seem to share is intelligence and the ability to think. Even after all these years, they range from teenagers to octogenarians and cross a number of ethnic heritages, but are predominantly native “English/American” speakers. A large proportion of them buy their books from independent and non-chain sources, i.e., not from either Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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