by Judith Curry
A key message of this election is that the power of elites to persuade us has evaporated.
Two days ago, the Washington Examiner had a provocative article Death of Elitism:
The public no longer has faith in big banks or big companies or big government. And the governing class has failed us miserably. . . And voters are sick and tired of the elite. Why? Because the social contract has been broken.
In politics, people often joke that the “golden rule” means that “the one with the gold rules.” But this idea has infected our whole society. The new rule is that there are no rules, at least not if you are powerful.
The elites can only run things with the American people’s permission. Trump is the people’s way of withdrawing their permission. Wolfe’s novel was titled “the Bonfire of the Vanities.” The Vanities or sins of the elite in the early 21st Century is to think that they are ultimately in control.
I think this general theme captures what happened in the U.S. election. With regards to the anti-elite sentiment, we are not just talking about the so-called ‘deplorables’, but also Bernie Sanders voters, many of whom seem to have voted for Trump particularly in Wisconsin and Michigan.
In the coming weeks, we will have a better understanding of why people voted for Trump:
- they liked Trump
- they hated Hillary Clinton
- they are voting against the Washington elites
Elements of all of the above, but I suspect that #3 was a big one.
The new normal
Apart from the obvious political/policy implications of the election, there are massive social implications:
• a triumph for U.S. democracy, in spite of those that have tried to break it (this is a really provocative article from The Age)
• a triumph for social media versus the mainstream media. Remember all of those big endorsements for Clinton from the major newspapers? People want a lot of information, they want to decide what is important and believable, and the want to make up their own minds. Social media enables this.
• a massive ‘egg on face’ moment for nearly all of the pollsters who predicted a Clinton win. Clearly, the polling methodologies need rethinking in this age of the internet.
• President Obama, who remains personally very popular, was not able to persuade voters to support Clinton. Coat tails don’t seem to matter very much.
• a realization that Presidents don’t need to come from the political class; this changes the mindset so that people from diverse backgrounds (outside politics) will consider running.
• a realization that a successful Presidential run does not need to cost $Billions, and that traditional data and get out the vote operations aren’t necessarily effective.
• a triumph for broader U.S. culture; the Hollywood and rock star icons who came out en masse for Clinton apparently didn’t sway many voters
• an opportunity for a more rational energy and climate policy (I will be writing more about this in the coming weeks)
• impetus for the objectives and values of heterodox academy.org, challenging the overwhelming Democratic orientation of university faculty members
The Trump Administration
From the Death of Elitism article:
Of course, bonfires are dangerous. They can easily burn out of control.
Well, the challenge for the Trump administration is to keep the bonfire under control. For those that are uneasy about Trump’s proposed policies, again I encourage you to read the Position Statements on his website. These are for the most part quite middle-of-the-road.
A new President has the opportunity to make thousands of high level appointments. There are many Democrats hanging out in think tanks that were waiting for a call from the Clinton administration (not to mention people in the Obama administration).
Apparently Trump’s transition team has been quite active, but there have only been a few clues as to who he would appoint (p.s. I have not been contacted by the Trump administration). It will certainly be interesting to watch this play out.
The pundits haven’t gotten too much analysis out there yet; here is the current lead from Huffington Post:
MOURNING IN AMERICA
NIGHTMARE: Prez Trump . . . America Elected a Man Who Said “Grab Them By The Pu**y: Over The First Female President
Democrats need to get over it and figure out a productive way to respond and move forward.
JC message to President Trump: Congratulations! Take a deep breath and put on your suit of armor. I hope that you can make this work for all Americans.