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In my lifetime, I remember when Republicans thought flag burning should be illegal.  Even Hillary Clinton thought so ten years ago.  Now they faux opposition is going ape on Trump for daring to demand basic loyalty to the country and respect for her flag.

The interment camps of Japanese (and the forgotten German and Italian internees) are bandied about as a horror symbol.  But they’re not.  They are a symbol for what a self-confident and effective America looked like.  An America that won wars.  And an America that wasn’t tied down by a million sensitivities that stop it from achieving greatness.

America was quite simply better in 1945.  And yes Jim Crow was bad. Unjust even. But we’ve paid and paid and paid for that injustice to death.  Ferguson and Watts and the 92 LA Riots were also bad, and so was what happened to George Zimmerman and the five cops killed by a Black Lives Matter terrorist in Dallas.

We remember Emmett Till.  Who even knows the name of those Dallas cops, which should be enshrined in glory?

So Trump appeals in a way apparently offensive to the elite of both parties to the passions of alienated Americans who know the past was better and who know that the world we’re living in is in many ways a dysfunctional cesspool. And he has exposed repeatedly, whether on immigration of Muslims or respect for the flag or immigration, that the “conservatives” don’t mean to really conserve anything but the victories of yesterday’s liberals.

Anti-Gnostic notes that the legacy GOP with its gnostic obsession with principles, doesn’t deliver much and got run over by the “smart fool” Trump:

Since at least the Great Society Democrats have been telling their constituents, “Here’s what liberalism can do for you.” Republicans seem to endlessly ask their constituents what can they do for conservatism (“Donate to my think tank!” “Buy my magazine!” “Vote for me!” “Sign up for this war!”). Their (overwhelmingly white) base duly votes for the Republican’s limited government-fiscal prudence-meritocracy platform, then watches as government, budget deficits, and political correctness all increase. Nothing the base voted for is actually accomplished, and the perception is these platitudes are being mouthed solely to get comfortable sinecures.

Immigration exposed this cozy scam. Immigration is extremely problematic for proletarian and petit bourgeois communities. But the same people who left the Democratic party to vote for Reagan have to listen as people like John McCain and Lindsey Graham call them bigots for not wanting their voting power and economic clout diluted and their children made strangers in their own country. When the battle lines started getting drawn, the Republican leadership proudly linked arms with the Democrats and did the bidding of their donor class. Donald Trump spotted that disconnect-–an electoral $100 bill lying on the floor–-and like the ruthless Scots-Irish businessman he is, grabbed it in both fists. He made his campaign all about, “Here’s what I’m going to do for you,” and rode it to ultimate victory.

Any of the other Republican candidates could have done that, but they didn’t. This was vindication of the Sailer Strategy: if you want conservative electoral victory, you need to support conservatively-inclined people. Affordable Family Formation: keep the land cheap and the wages high, because that’s what gets families started and married people with children tend to incline conservative. This may require abandonment on occasion of precious, precious principle but like the Democrats realize, this isn’t about principle, it’s about winning. That’s how they captured the institutions.

In a diverse society, it’s not what your candidate supports; it’s whether they support you.

How Trump Won

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When dealing with the uncoordinated activities of several tens of millions of voters, it’s somewhat foolhardy to offer grand theories.  So everything below should be read in light of the lack of precision inherent to the problem.  That is, at most it’s a general theory, supported by evidence, but incapable of falsification or replication.  While less than ideal, this epistemological obstacle applies to me, Nate Silver, the Washington Post, Bill Kristol, and everyone else talking about complex human affairs. But, by contrast to all of them, I happened to be right on my predictions.

Trump’s Voters

Trump won.  He barely won, but he pulled it off.  He was supposed to lose, and lose big, so anything less than that is noteworthy.  He won battleground states like Florida and North Carolina, and he won big in the Midwest, pulling off surprise wins in Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio, and also Pennsylvania.

Many of these states had long been Democratic strongholds historically and included many working class people suspicious of the GOP and its reputation as the party of the Fat Cats. They are sometimes called Rust Belt states, as they represent the most battered cohort of legacy America:  shattered cities, formerly anchored by manufacturers, where hard-working folks of average IQ could create a middle class lifestyle for themselves and their families until about 30 years ago.  They’ve suffered ever since, as many jobs were destroyed by foreign competition within and outside our borders, as well as a shift towards a “knowledge economy” that offers fewer rewards to those folks who simply want a job and are willing to work hard. While traditionally less “red” than the South, the Midwest is something of a trailing indicator of larger national trends.  The small “c” conservatism of its German inhabitants is less small goernment and more law and order than, say, Southern Republicans, and this particular election cycle presented that in high relief.

As a descriptive matter, Trump won because he consolidated the white vote.  That is, a majority of whites voted for him.  College and non-college.  Young and old.  Men and women. Notably, Trump even did better on a percentage basis than Romney with blacks, Asians, and Hispanics, but whites gave him the biggest gains, particularly those in the Midwest.

While whites are becoming a minority, this is trailing in the electorate, due to fact that many new citizens are children of newcomers, legal and illegal, and this non-voting group make up a greater proportion of the immigrant population.  Steve Sailer nearly 15 years ago explained how the Republicans can do better not by alienating millions of their natural supporters (and betraying their interest) by reaching out to liberal-leaning Hispanics and other immigrants through amnesty, but instead by consolidating the white vote.  Trump did that.  A Rubio, Jeb, or Cruz almost certainly would not have done this nearly as well, not least because they don’t really believe in it, and they run scared at the first media charge of being racist, even though such accusations are inevitable when one fights against liberals.

Trump also benefited from a gender gap of his own.  While Hillary appealed to Team Women ad nauseum through a crude campaign of negative insinuation, Trump barely trailed Romney with white women, winning about 53% of them nationwide, and won 63% of white men and a remarkable 72% of non-college educated white men.  With regard to Hillary’s strategy, it’s not clear how men are supposed to be jazzed by the “first female president” sold as such.  Men compete for women in jobs and social status, and many, particularly in the working classes, have seen special accommodations made to push lesser qualified women and minorities ahead of them in police departments, in the military, and in other endeavors.  She reminded them of this ill treatment.

Whites did give Obama a chance, perhaps hoping to expiate the ghost or racism, but rather than buying peace, Obama is widely perceived to have made race relations worse, who does not hesitate to suggest all manner of criticism is insidious racism returning to the fore.  Hillary similarly suggested her campaign troubles and much of the criticism she endured originated in sexism, and asking men to sign up to four years of that kind of hectoring is a pretty tough sell.  Apparently they–and a majority of their wives, moms, and sisters–agreed.

Obama’s Failures Made Whites Cynical About Pervasive Guilt-Tripping

Obama’s presidency and the cultural trends of the last eight years have much to do with Trump’s win.  Explicitly anti-white propaganda, and implicitly anti-white policies have grown worse.  Affirmative action is promoted openly in government and in every large company in America.  Diversity is insultingly touted as a strength, even in light of the mass murders carried out by Muslim immigrants and as whites whisper to trusted confidantes about the unspoken burdens of diversity.  Obama and Hillary both sided with the anti-police movement Black Lives Matter, shrugged at riots and disorder in Ferguson and Baltimore, and refused to understand the frustration of middle class people at the hand-wringing and excuse-making for  1960s style disorder and violence. While Obama said if he had a son he would look like Trayvon, whites saw themselves in George Zimmerman, a young first-time homeowner and gun owner, beaten nearly to death while investigating a suspicious person in his neighborhood, who then had to endure a malicious prosecution that he barely escaped from.

In addition, as the county maps have shown since 2000, there is a rural and urban divide, which expresses itself in the contempt for “Wal-Mart people” expressed in a bipartisan way in large cities everywhere.  The national population is fluid to some extent.  The elite on college campuses and in places like New York and DC often consist of talented people who wanted nothing more than to run away from their provincial towns.  What is missing from this elite, however, is a sense of noblesse oblige.  Instead, under the current doctrine of multiculturalism, the destruction of the jobs, culture, and ways of life in those small towns has been, until now, met with “price of progress” shrugs by Republicans and glee by Democrats, who equate those places and those people with retrograde racism, sexism, and other sins. Trump said in an unmistakable way that he was going to fight for this group, and they got the message.  And Hillary and her surrogates reinforced the message by referring to his supporters as “deplorables,” which they embraced as a badge of honor.

Thus, the nostalgic slogan “Make America Great Again” was indeed a dog whistle.  It was conservative and even reactionary in the sense that it upheld as honorable the older America, in which those people had pride of place, opportunity, and a greater say in the direction of the country.  It was an America in which heroes like Washington, Lincoln, Patton, Neil Armstrong, and the like could be honored, without embarrassment and shame or reminders that “well, back then, things weren’t so great for [insert Democratic Party constituency].”

Trump Fought Everyone and Gave Legacy Americans Hope

Trump had a certain degree of authenticity in his solidarity with the working class and other legacy Americans. Being rich and a member of the establishment, this may seem a puzzle.  After all, isn’t this a class thing?  But, like George W. Bush (or even F.D.R. for that matter), he had some credibility by adopting a style and series of positions that made him something of a “traitor to his class.”  He knows the elite–indeed, he knows them well enough to mock and troll them relentlessly–but he has repeatedly and throughout his life shown a sense of comfort and solidarity with the working class.  The rough and tumble folks he encountered in the construction business no doubt played some part in this.  But his persuasiveness depended most upon his personal style.  And it was reinforced by the daily vitriol aimed at him for daring to deviate from the manners and assumptions of the elite.

Trump talked like the people he was purporting to defend.  Even with his money, he acted and spent like a guy who won the lottery, rather than the son of a millionaire.  The very things that the traditional GOP leadership was either uncomfortable with or apoplectic regarding turned out to be strengths:   his jokes, his vulgarity, his plain talk, and his contempt for all manner of political correctness.

The critics did not see it coming either in the primary or afterwards.  And the reason is plain, and discussed at length in Charles Murray’s Coming Apart:  they mostly have little sympathy for and experience with this Other America.  And the things they criticized and the manner of their criticism strengthened his “anti-fragile” message, inasmuch, as his supporters felt it was an attack upon themselves and the things they either valued or at least possessed in some degree.  He talked and thought like them, and he was attacked for talking and thinking like them.  These attacks brought Trump and his supporters closer together.  They all paid a price, and they all saw the bared teeth of their opponents.

Hillary Was A Standard-Issue Democrat, Who Was Also Corrupt and Unlikeable

Hillary was not a destined loser.  Let’s not forget, this was a close election. A few small changes in turn-out, and the result may have been reversed. Hillary largely did manage to consolidate the core Democratic Party constituencies:  childless urban young people, government dependents, minorities, single moms, sophisticated urban professionals, and the like.  But she did not excite them so much.  They did not come out in the same numbers as 2012 for Obama, and there were notable reductions in loyalty among Hispanics, Asians, and working class whites. And working class whites are, in spite of our “new electorate,” the chief swing constituency in America where most of the other demographics are locked up in one party or the other.

This failure to excite even her core supporters probably has something to do with her reputation for corruption and her undeniable status as the status quo candidate.  None of these things helped on the margins, and the Benghazi and Email scandals were classic Clinton.

In addition, I should think her status as a Clinton has some impact on her failure to connect sufficiently with feminist-leading white women, whom most of her ads were aimed at.  Like George W. Bush, it’s hard to believe she would be where she was, wielding as much power as she did, if her husband was not a former president.  If a woman is to be the president, might it not have some more punch if she got there through her own talents? After all even Pakistan had a female leader related to a previous male leader.  Similarly, (I hope) no one thought W. was the best and most qualified person in 2000.  Alternating Bush and Clinton presidencies since 1988 with only the Obama interregnum leaves Americans of a democratic bent understandably uneasy.

Her problem was not merely her reputation and status, but also that her economic and policy message was vague.  As presaged by the Bernie Sanders phenomenon, there is a great deal of fear and loathing among many Americans regarding the perceived chummy nature of Wall Street and Washington DC, evidenced by the near absence of any prosecution of bad actors following the 2008 economic crisis, as well as the sweetheart TARP loans that saved Goldman, AIG, and others from the consequences of their gambling with other people’s money.  Having given numerous $250K a pop speeches to these groups, it was hard to believe she would do anything to reign them and their power in.

Finally, her personal style, in contrast to Trump’s, was icy and entitled.  Videos of her angrily asking “Why she’s not 50 points ahead?” or “What difference does it make?” were not easily forgotten.   These personal flaws were coupled with her apparent lack of enthusiasm, infrequent speeches, poorly attended rallies, robotic and staged demeanor, and, most important, an absence of message other than “Trump is a bad man” and “she’ll be the first woman president.”  What she would do for the people hurting economically and what she would do to make the country safer, in light of her professed globalism, were never well articulated.

Trump Had a Sensible Policy Message

Trump’s campaign was, irony of ironies, one of policy.  Trump had a clear policy message for anyone paying attention.  It was communicated far more articulately than the aspirational themes of Hillary and Obama, the latter of whom ran, we can’t forget, on the gauzy slogan “Hope and Change.”

Trump ran as a pragmatist with a nationalist edge.  He said we should reduce immigration and enforce our laws in order to benefit native-born Americans.  We should negotiate trade deals, not as an exercise in fidelity to abstract principles, but in the manner of a businessman seeking the best deal for his boss, in this case, the American people.  And in foreign policy, America First must be the watchword of the day, which Trump articulated through skepticism of idealistic campaigns like the war in Syria.  His opposition to Iraq, which turned out to be a dead end, reinforced this reluctance to get involved in military action when the American people do not directly benefit.

Hillary and the neoconservatives who supported her amplified Trump’s message with their frequent war-mongering regarding Russia, which is not a natural enemy of our country.  The establishment’s consensus on intermediate foreign policy objectives –NATO expansion, human rights promotion, and elusive stability–turned out to be a hard sell for Hillary.  Periodic terrorist atrocities based on our national leadership’s failure to use border control to protect ourselves from Muslim terrorism highlighted Trump’s message.

While Trump and the media’s relentless attacks on Trump exposed his flaws and likely cost him some votes, Hillary never said very clearly what she was going to do and how the things she has already done would benefit and protect the lives and livelihoods of ordinary Americans.

Other issues like Obamacare and gun control undoubtedly helped out Trump in consolidating the Republican base, but his biggest achievement was deemphasizing divisive social issues like gay marriage or abortion in favor of controversial but, on net, popular positions on immigration, trade, and foreign policy.  The vocal opposition of establishment figures in both parties only highlighted that he was–love him or hate him–the change candidate in spite of the “historic” nature of Hillary’s run.

What Went Wrong With Polls?

Trump’s success occurred in spite of repeated, very certain predictions  on how he would definitely lose.  These predictions were made by very smart people, who have long been political observers, pollsters, media figures, or otherwise political professionals.  No doubt polling is a difficult business, as the raw data requires some massaging, because it all comes down to who is going to vote.  Anyone can answer a polling question.  But actually voting requires a certain amount of effort, planning, and interest. It’s hard to know who will actually do that.

That said, the scale and uniformity of their wrongness is reminiscent of the 2008 Economic Crisis. All the experts were wrong, and they were cocksure right to the very end. Models have inherent uncertainty.  Data only measures what it can measure.  And common sense–that inchoate bundle of lived experience, historical knowledge, and self-doubt–was in short supply on both occasions.

Data is not just “numbers.”  Data is information, which requires analysis and evaluation to be rendered into useful knowledge.  What all the polls seemed to miss is that in swing states and traditional Democratic strongholds, Trump could fill an arena with two or three days notice.  He could do this repeatedly across the nation several times a day.  There was undoubtedly an enthusiasm gap, which  mattered more than in past cycles because it was magnified by the increasing prominence of social media.

For each of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who attended a Trump rally, there would be 10 times that number in friends, relatives, coworkers, and acquaintances informed of the event via social media.  This was Trump’s ground game: his army of enthusiastic MAGA-Hat wearing fans, who would proselytize for free on Facebook, Twitter, and in person to everyone they knew.  I know, because I was one of them.

And as Trump becomes not the ogre of Hillary’s ads, but the person that your trusted  friend, uncle, son, or coworker defends, it becomes a bit more acceptable to vote for him yourself.  Obama benefited from the same phenomenon, particularly among young people, but nowadays grandma is on Facebook too.  By contrast, I cannot recall meeting a single enthusiastic Hillary supporter this go around.

Trump Disrupts the System

Trump’s victory is enormous. It represents a repudiation of conventional wisdom on campaigning and on policy that was shared by both parties.  It shows the value of conviction, authenticity, and the simple power of listening to voters and their concerns.  It shows how not dancing to the tune of the media–which encourages weakness and self-doubt–allows one to reframe the debate and show courage of conviction at the same time.  It exposes the fragility of political correctness and the “smart fools” who make up our media and political elite.  And, most important, it shows that a great many legacy Americans are going to go down fighting rather than accept the bipartisan and destructive policies of open borders, free trade, and “idealistic” war that have characterized American life since the end of the Cold War.

We Did It

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I’ll write more soon.  I’m exhausted, having spent the entire day watching polls to prevent fraud and staying up ’til 2:30 a.m. to see the results.

This was such a hard race with literally everyone and everything against Trump: the Democrats, the media, the Republican establishment, 16 capable candidates in the primaries, several of whom conspired against him in the general, the donor class, the universities, celebrities, Wall Street, and even the Pope.

And he—the American people really—still won!

This is an amazing time to be alive.

Well, Trump had his tapes coupled with a flurry of unverifiable allegations that fit the tape to a tee.  This had mostly blown over.  His virtues and vices are well known; and, while vulgar and a ladies’ man, there is no real credible claim to be made that he’s a predator, like Bill Clinton.  Now Hillary has her encore investigation of emails, rather beautifully coming form her Arab adviser Huma Abedein’s pervert husband Anthony Wiener’s computer.  He was under investigation, recall, for sexting a 15 year old, having earlier resigned in disgrace for doing so with someone only a little bit older.

FBI Director James Comey, whose rectitude was beyond reproach when he did not indict in July, is now scum, persona non grata, and devoid of all credibility for Hillary and her media corps.  She has rather boldly demanded that the investigation’s current state of knowledge be disclosed. But there’s a problem with Hillary’s call for transparency:  her own actions are why there’s no transparency.  She kept an illegal email server that was not backed up through normal means, doing this to evade congressional and public scrutiny under FOIA, and now when new troves of emails from one party to those conversations turn up, they reveal the extent of her deception, which included deleting massive numbers of emails after receiving congressional subpoenas.  In other words, she hid things, they were only imperfectly uncovered after a long investigation, and now more have been uncovered.

Hillary touts her skill within the system as a qualification, which Trump has dismissed as “bad experience.”  She is experienced no doubt, and her experience coupled with her venality and penchant for secrecy is what brought about this entire email situation. But the claim of experience has an additional flaw.  While she is clearly of low character, even if she were honest and authentic–like Bernie Sanders or Dennis Kucinich for example–it would not matter.

The goals she aims to achieve are bad ones.

She is hostile to the historic American people, our limited government traditions, our traditional distaste with empire, our desire for a less intrusive government, our unplanned and spontaneous and natural approach to family life, among other things.  She is a leftist. And her experience and political skill, such as it is, recommends against her rather than in her favor, because the better she can accomplish her goals, the more we collectively suffer.

The appeal to experience by those in the middle is quaint and wrong-headed.  There is no abstract notion of good government in an ideological age.  We’re not running a homeowners association or a village deciding to pave with concrete or asphalt.  What each side wants to do is quite different.  While the GOP’s steady decline as an institution of conservatism masks this, the Trump campaign highlights the issues in full relief.  She wants to take our guns, she wants to tax us into oblivion, she wants to flood us with hostile foreigners, she wants government run by people like her to run our lives, she wants neighborhood bakers and schools harassed into accepting transexual mental health sufferers, she wants eight month unborn children to be aborted without any impediment, she wants black criminals elevated above hard-working police, she wants us all dependent on an ever-growing and more intrusive government, and the better she is able to do any of these things, the worse off we are individually and collectively.

In a healthy society, the appeal to experience might have some weight.  It has some value in local and even state elections, where the good is conceived less ideologically and more practically in terms of efficiency in bringing about noncontroversial government goods like public safety and public works.  Particularly on a national level and cultural level, we are under attack by a hostile ideology and increasingly our identity itself is under assault by social engineering writ large in the form of mass immigration.  Perhaps her manifest public corruption and criminality would give pause to those who think her experience is some kind of virtue.  But whether her corruption amounts to a vice limiting her ambition or a “virtue” furthering her designs, it is the leftist content of those designs that chiefly disqualifies her from the presidency.

Hillary Clinton’s goals are unworthy of a free and moral people, no matter how fine her personal character may be.  In addition to seeking to do political evil, she has the distinctly political vice of self-enrichment and corruption. This adds an additional harm to the nation as a whole, not least in normalizing behavior from which better men than she have been impeached.  Nonetheless, her skills and instrumental moral virtues like prudence and courage would be rendered grotesque in the service of the ends to which she is committed. Our only escape would be her lack of skill and lack of ability.  Like a trained assassin, her abilities and experience are to be feared.

Trump supported Ryan before Ryan’s primary.  Now Ryan is turning on Trump in the general.

Just a naive red state voter here, but I guess I always felt like everybody has to come in for the big win when it comes to general elections.  That’s one of the principles of every political party.  That was drilled into my head when I voted for Bob Dole in ’96 and Bush in ’92.  I didn’t vote for McCain incidentally–sorry nuclear war with Russia too big of a risk–but I’m just Joe Blow voter at the end of the day.  As bad as Obama has been, I believe that existential risk would have been worse. Nonetheless, generals are different from primaries, and Ryan’s doing everything he can to hand Hillary the election.

Winning in the general I thought was the whole point of Reince Preibus’s pledge, which was designed to hem in Trump, but backfired on the establishment when he won.  Afterwards we saw the utter lack of honor in people like Jeb and Cruz.  Rubio, by contrast, has shown better sense all around.

If people don’t like Trump, that’s totally understandable.  But when Jeb and company signed the pledge, it was pretty obvious what Trump’s flaws were, and they could have just as easily taken a stand not to support him no matter what and say this was a special case.  They wanted it both ways, i.e., no honor nor courage of conviction.

Ryan’s doing the bidding of the Chamber of Commerce wing of the party.  He’s probably sincere in his belief in open orders, outsourcing American jobs, war with Russia, and the TARP.  He and Trump both are showing the uneasy marriage of (a) blue collar whites and (b) donors, professionals, and other rich people.  The two groups’ values, interests, instincts, and tastes are “coming apart” to quote Charles Murray.
My loyalties are contrary to those of my social class here.  I support the decent, forgotten, and increasingly disfavored legacy American middle class.

I feel in spite of (a) Bill Clinton’s presidency (b) the Dennis Hastert/Foley scandals (c) gay propaganda 24/7 on TV and movies (d) the best selling book 50 Shades of Gray and (e) the well known fact that women literally throw themselves at famous men, that we have just today finally lost our innocence, and it’s high time the Establishment stand up for itself and dump Trump and promote their own hobby horse causes which they always wanted to promote anyway.

The pearl clutching on this fairly average locker room talk is pathetic and is a transparent and coordinated effort by people who hated Trump already for reasons having everything to do with his anti-establishment stance and nothing else. If people cared about whether our politicians are gentlemen, then Clinton would not still be an elder statesman of the Democratic Party, and the dozens and dozens of cheating congressman, senators, and everyone else would be out of work.
If Never Trump crowd continues to double down without any sense of proportion, his core supporters (the only hope of a winning GOP) will become permanently alienated. He might be a vulgar goofball, but his core challenge to the bipartisan consensus is a serious one and he’s right on those issues:  the stupidity of our anti-Russia and anti-Assad policies, the problem with trade and the border, and the suffocating effects of political correctness. Pence’s restrained statement is a good one. But the mass freakout is all a premeditated, virtue-signalling smokescreen.  And it’s all rather hard to take seriously.