The ascendency of Trump

Ok, so, clearly it’s the topic of the day, so let’s talk about that. A bit of the context:

(15:54:45) Faerie: One could argue that an idiot who means well is the lesser of two evils. Personally though (15:54:59) Faerie: Trump scares the bejesus out of me (15:56:03) Faerie: The man is going to do exactly what he says, and he is going to turn around and exclaim: (15:56:41) Faerie: "But I told you I'm going to do it and you agreed by voting for me" (15:59:57) Faerie: On a lighter note: http://9gag​.com/gag/aG0​eXrK (16:16:05) brianvds: "As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron." H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956) (16:25:23) BoogieMonster: Oh yeah this is a total disaster. But it's an understanda​ble disaster. (16:27:53) BoogieMonster: I don't find myself as mystified as everyone else. (16:28:44) BoogieMonster: The left lost their way, and they got slammed for it. (16:43:20) brianvds: Yup, over the past decade or two, bit by bit, the Democratic party turned itself into the Republican party, and thought the voters would just never notice. They were wrong.

So, everyone I talk to have reasons they think that Trump got where he is, but yours is quite unique. In most people’s estimations the left went MUCH TOO FAR left into fascist country, and having very popular candidates that are openly socialist (Bernie), blindly trumpeting the cause of minorities to an absolute fault, etc. Of course, there is the horseshoe effect to contend with: Once you go far enough left or right you start curving back to the opposite side: Like suddenly “liberals” become authoritarians who want to ban certain speech. Is this what you’re referring to?

I think the Trump supremacy is multi-faceted:

  • It’s blowback from a decade plus of making everyone who is not an outright bleeding heart socialist to be a racist, homophobic, transphobic piece of human trash.
  • Black Lives Matter running amok whilst apologists White Knight for them.
  • … all the while I see a lot of black people revolting against this and voting Trump in defiance: “don’t speak for us”.
  • The SJW movement taking over the countries’ discourse in universities and the media.
  • The liberal media and Hollywood running vicious smear campaigns (the full extent of which is now becoming clearly visible) against the republican party and Trump in particular. (I try to keep up with American talk-shows, it’s really one-sided).
  • 24hr non-stop assaults on the 2nd ammendment (the right to bear arms).
  • Bailing out, and paying out of huge bonusses to rich bankers who seem immune from consequence whilst their economy melts.
  • … and the politicians who seem to be enabling them.
  • Edward Snowden, Julian Assange.
  • The spread of Atheism, to be frank… The republicans desperately “want god back”.
  • ½ their country not voting because the polls lied. (My opinion)

… and then came the guy who promised to break it all down. He said a lot of other really crazy shit too, but the enemy of my enemy…

These are the reasons I think Trump won. What are yours?

It’s not simple, of course. History never is.

In a nutshell, my take is that Trump’s populist bluster resonated with something latent and widespread in a fed-up and disillusioned Middle America, and that it’s not so much that he won as that Clinton lost. The Democrats made a poor choice fielding a mistrusted, even shady, candidate.

The US electoral system also helped Trump who got about the same total number of individual votes as Clinton, but he won states that had a higher tally of electoral votes.


The people bemoan this all the time but politicians will never do anything about it. Because those who get into power this way are the ones who have to do the changing, and that just does not seem to be in their interest.

I am quite impressed by how my list lines up with the one linked. toots own horn

a repeat of my March 31st post seems to somewhat predictive: “Back to Trump the Chump: I have a different take on this idiot…he knows how to play to the crowds and TV and they love him for that but when and if he becomes Prez he’ll sing a totally different tune with special advisors backing him. He’s never been in politics and will bring business acumen to the White House which is not a bad thing. However much will depend on him being less of an arrogant clown.”
Now I see he’s bringing in similar clowns re the environment, education (Dr Carson) etc that will signal a massive swing to the right, but the stock market (predictively) loves him…

Yeah, somehow his entourage is WAY worse than him. Chris Christie, now that dude I never thought would get anywhere.

Among the far right in America there is a perception that the Democratic party is a bunch of communists. They’re not. There is actually little to choose between Trump and Hillary, if the political compass can be believed:

Much of the rest of what you say resonates with this commentator:

who thinks a lot of Trump’s success is the result of blowback from the extreme political correctness that has taken hold of western society over the past decade.

As Mefiante pointed out, it is not so much that Trump won as that Hillary lost; the Democrats have a long history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Had they run with Bernie, he might have won by a landslide (though it is difficult to say with certainty). So why didn’t they? Because he’s a commie, and they are not. The Dems are every bit as much bought and paid for by big business interests as the Republicans. And their traditional base, I think, has finally begun to realize this. Thus they either voted third party or simply stayed away in droves, both of which options were correct, if you ask me. Had I been an America, I’d have done the same.

Incidentally, an American friend of mine tells me he thinks that for many voters, “Donald Trump” was actually just a term for “none of the above.” Americans are fed up with their utterly corrupt and unprincipled politicians, and would have voted for an old shoe as long as it wasn’t part of the establishment. In this, they may actually have been quite correct.

We’ll have to see what Trump will do now. Much of what he proposed during his campaign is impracticable or illegal, so forget about the big wall or deportations of Muslims or any of that shit. We’ll have to see how far right they’ll turn; even relatively recently, he espoused far more moderate views. I wonder whether his campaign was not actually just a publicity stunt to promote his brand, and now he’s like the dog that actually managed to catch the car… :wink:

Either way, America will perhaps undergo major changes now. If the Democrats don’t get back in touch with their base, they are going to go the way of the dodo, and good riddance too. As for the Republicans, they are now exactly where they wanted to be: they have not only the presidency, but both houses too. They can practically do whatever they like now. So the coming years may well serve as a test of right wing policies. If they succeed they can take full credit; if they fail they can’t hide behind a hostile congress full of “leftists” or the liberal media or whatever else. They’ll have to own whatever they do now. Thus, the next few years might be the beginning of the end for the far right agenda, or the beginning of a major turn to the right all over the planet, depending whether it succeeds in America or not.

I suppose it also depends to some extent on what exactly their interpretation of “right wing agenda” is going to be. If it means freeing up the economy (but without completely unmaking social safety nets) and saying goodbye to overblown political correctness, they may well succeed big time. If it’s going to mean doing the kind of shit Trump proposed during his campaign it will fail completely and utterly and miserably, even worse than Bush failed. We’ll have to see which it is going to be.

Personally, I am actually quite happy, if a bit nervous, about the outcome. For one thing, Trump is way more entertaining than Hillary, but on a more serious note, I think America needs a major shakeup, and Trump may be the one to provide it (although quite possibly not in the way his supporters had hoped for!) The fact that this orange buffoon got himself elected president tells me there is something profoundly wrong, either with their system or with the nation itself. Which means they bloody well deserve him now. If he messes up as badly as everyone fears, then perhaps this time round Americans will learn the lesson they failed to learn from the Bush administration.

All that plus… how many votes did he get simply because of his gender. The US is by no means ready for a female president. In a country where birth control is only available on script and abortion a sin to the extent that a woman can be prosecuted for having a natural miscarriage, one must consider this.

Sorry Faerie, the optimist in me thinks she lost it entirely on her own merit. I do not think this was a sexist thing. That or women really hate women…

But yes, this is the kind of thing that worries me. And what Brian points to as well in his lengthy expose… The “right” in the USA is not a libertarian movement at all, they make some of the noises… but not really. Ron Paul tried to get a republican ticket based on small govt ideals and got smoked, he was seen as an “extremist”. Which, maybe, he is. But the baggage of the real right in the USA is this stuff… abortion, climate change denial, evolution denial, evangelical interference… I’ve seriously heard Trump supporters very recently affirm that they want women back in the house, not working, and looking after the kids. Hey, if that’s what SHE wants… great. But these guys want the 50’s back. THAT is what makes me uneasy. Especially since I don’t put this past the lot surrounding Trump atm.

Sadly, every time I think “this time people will learn their lesson”… a guy like Zuma doesn’t get booted out of his position AGAIN. I don’t think people do learn their lesson. And if they do, they do it for maybe 1 election cycle.

Most of the so-called conservatives in America are not conservative at all - they’re radical Ayatollah types who would make the likes of Eisenhower turn in his grave. Even Nixon comes across as a quite enlightened and principled man compared to this bunch. They are not the land of the free either. On the whole they hate freedom and want to put an end to it.

But these guys want the 50's back. THAT is what makes me uneasy. Especially since I don't put this past the lot surrounding Trump atm.

Among older Americans there seems to be a great deal of nostalgia for a kind of Norman Rockwell 1950s that actually never existed in the first place. I know some of them online, and they (very naively in my opinion) voted for Trump in droves. But looking at America now, even the real 1950s in some ways seem like a better deal. There seems to have been a kind of can-do optimism then, instead of the paranoid, fearful and often rabidly hateful nation we see now. Eisenhower was a man of great integrity, and agree or disagree with his policies, you knew exactly where you stood with him. His economic policies were likely quite a bit to the LEFT of Hillary too - as my American friend says, America has collectively gone batshit insane.

Sadly, every time I think "this time people will learn their lesson"... a guy like Zuma doesn't get booted out of his position AGAIN. I don't think people do learn their lesson. And if they do, they do it for maybe 1 election cycle.

Yes, I fear you may be right. I have become something of a hardened cynic with regard to both South African and American politics - in short, I’m fresh out of sympathy. The Americans deserve their leaders, and so do our local unthinking supporters of Zuma et al.

As for America, I’m now going to sit back, relax and watch the show. They have turned themselves into the laughing stock of the world, and now we’re going to have a very good laugh. It’s like having a ringside seat during the last days of the Roman Empire. :slight_smile:

Of course, there’s still a chance that Trump might pleasantly surprise us, even as he bitterly disappoints the idiots who voted for him… :slight_smile:

I wonder, what percentage of people that have been scammed, in the last 5 years, are also Trump supporters? Just watched a few of his speeches and it just about shouts it out what he’s doing. This is now while I am waiting to hear if our own number 1 scammer got away with it again or not.

Even if our scammer-in-chief does go, it might not necessarily be particularly great news:

South Africa has large scale systemic problems that, sooner or later, will have to be fixed. Unfortunately the ruling party cannot think of any other way to fix them than to try multiplying wealth by dividing it. If the frickin’ government can just get the fuck out of the way, a lot of the problems will fix themselves.

As for the Trump supporters, I know many of them online, and they do not strike me as racist, misogynist or indeed even uneducated. They do strike me though as politically so breathtakingly naive that there is really no point discussing the issue with them.

In the longer run, Trump may well actually be much better for America than Hillary would have been. But probably not in the way his naive supporters think.

How does this “Electoral College” thing work? I thought America was “one person, one vote”.

Your thoughts on this?
I think they are in for a rocky ride, but this bad?

Oh crap, Forgot about this one…

VERY SHORT VERSION: American states have a static number “electoral votes” per state, but the number varies from state to state.
MyState always has 5
YourState always has 10

How this was allocated I forget, but I think it’s not very representative of population.

These votes are cast by actual people sent by that state to a voting meeting to decide who wins the election. IOW: It is not the outcome of the general election that determines the president, it’s the outcome of this private election. The states are free to legislate how their electoral votes are cast, but in reality mostly ALL the electoral votes for a certain state goes for the party who won the election in that state.

If in StateX there are 10 electoral votes, and the Democrats win by 0.1%, then all 10 of those electoral votes go to the Democrats, and all votes cast for the Republicans go into the dustbin.

The uneven allocation means that “swing states” have more voting power, per capita, than others. For instance, it’s well known that California, despite having a huge population holds very little sway in the electoral college.

Some speculate the reason why this is so: In the beginning only uppity land-owning types could vote in the USA. As the vote “spread” they wanted a mechanism to prevent an utter buffoon (aka Trump) from being elected by the “stupid masses”. However in this current time we find ourselves in, they’d have a whooole lot of trouble if they overrode the process and just voted in whomever they chose. So as I say for the most part they just all vote for their state’s winning party.

Interesting fact: They can actually vote for whomever they want, someone who wasn’t even on the ballot, and if enough of them do this it would be a legal election for someone who never ran.

Actually, California, with 55, currently has by far the highest number of electoral votes. Texas has the next highest at 38, followed by New York and Florida with 29 each. The electoral votes per state are determined by the most recent prior population census and always add up to 535 (plus three electors for Washington DC). In other words, if the most recent census revealed that State X had 2.794% of the US population, it would get 2.794/100×535 = 14.94… electoral votes, which would be rounded up to 15. (This rounding with the constraint that the total must come out at 535 presents something of a problem all of its own).

A so-called “swing sate” is one where it’s a toss-up whether the Republicans or Democrats will win since each party enjoys similar levels of support. Because all of the state’s electoral votes go to the party with the highest number of votes, even if the difference is just a single vote, such states can have a disproportionate effect on the overall outcome. Traditionally, swing states also have a history of reversals in support—i.e., some years the elections are won by the Republicans and other years by the Democrats—and also have an appreciable number of electoral votes. That’s why California (always Democrat) and Texas (always Republican) aren’t swing states. New Hampshire, while usually considered a swing state, has just 4 electoral votes, so nobody really worries too much about it.


Mefiante: Thanks for the info. I was too lazy to go look it up, but I was also under the impression that the number of electoral college votes was not in fact directly proportional to the percentage of voters in a state (i.e. that in some states your vote would count more than in others). This not being the case, perhaps all the moaning and groaning in America about the electoral college is a bit misplaced, because it does not seem all -i=that-/i= anti-democratic to me, and it does mean (I would think) that in the case of a minority president, it will never be by that huge a margin. (During apartheid era South Africa, it was also possible for a minority candidate to become prime minister, and I think it actually happened once or twice).

It occurs to me that one disadvantage is that once a state is firmly in the hands of a party, it will tend to stay in that party, simply because if you are blue but you know your state is overwhelmingly red, you may not bother to even go vote (and vice versa).

I’d like to examine this perception a little more formally by way of an example. Suppose two states, A and B, qualify for 12.498… and 12.501… electoral votes, respectively, based on the most recent validated US population census. Assuming that the arithmetical gremlins don’t throw a bunch of untenable electoral vote assignments into the bag of 535 (to be sure, a tenuous assumption at best), state A will be assigned 12 electoral votes while state B would get 13. Thus, state B’s result affects the overall outcome to the tune of 13/535, whereas state A’s relative effect is 12/535. While the population figures for states A and B are clearly very similar, their difference is conspicuously less than one part in 535. Ergo, the power of a single vote in state B is greater than that of a vote in state A.

Moreover, this effect is much more pronounced in swing states that have a sizeable number of electoral votes, such as Florida. If you vote for the party that ultimately loses overall, your vote has no more power than anywhere else. However, in the extreme case, a single vote in such a state can determine which candidate wins the whole country.

But here’s the kicker: All of the above airy-fairy what-if, analytical contortions are rendered irrelevant by the simple fact that they are necessarily post hoc. There is no large scale coordination or plot among the electorate that would allow one or other agency to exploit these factors. For all practical purposes and as a democratic safeguard, each individual vote is a wholly independent event. And that’s why the US system, for all its apparent shortcomings, works and has not been changed for long time.


Yup, people perhaps make too much of an issue about it. The main point of democracy is not to choose the best leaders (no system of mob rule - and democracy is one of them - will ever achieve that) but to have a legal and orderly way of getting rid of bad ones. However we implement the democratic idea in practice, our implementation is bound to have some disadvantages, but if we keep to the spirit of the thing, it will effectively prevent a royal dynasty from taking power for decades or centuries on end.

Poplak does a post-mortem of some of 2016’s more prominent moments enjoyably laced with his customary acerbic irreverence. Trump is not spared.