The Trump Shock and its Predictors

Posted on December 10, 2016

After the shock, we try to understand. My own road to understanding is through hanging out, on Internet, with some of the people that had correctly predicted the fact that to us well-thinking, well-meaning, well-behaved, leftward-leaning people (everyone in my social bubble of academics, researchers, educators, with a sprinkle of artists) came as a huge shock.

Another thing we should try to understand is why we well-thinking, well-meaning, etc. academics did get is so wrong. But that’s for another occasion.

Michael Moore

Michael Moore correctly predicted four months ago that Trump would win (and he tried in vain to falsify that prediction by means of his Michael Moore in Trumpland film). These were his reasons:

Further details in 5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win

But the fact that his prediction was right does not mean that his reasons were right, of course. Moore is also quoted as having said that Trump would win because he makes better TV than Hillary Clinton, and that is what Americans care about.

Allan Lichtman

Professor of History, author of Predicting the Next President: The Keys to the White House 2016. His method is explained here.

Here are the keys:

1 Party Mandate: After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than after the previous midterm elections.

2 Contest: There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination.

3 Incumbency: The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president.

4 Third party: There is no significant third party or independent campaign.

5 Short-term economy: The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.

6 Long-term economy: Real per capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms.

7 Policy change: The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy.

8 Social unrest: There is no sustained social unrest during the term.

9 Scandal: The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.

10 Foreign/military failure: The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs.

11 Foreign/military success: The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs.

12 Incumbent charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero.

13 Challenger charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.

If six of these are false, the incumbent party (in this case, the Democratic party) will lose the elections. See this Washington Post article for further information.

David Wong

(Executive Editor of parody website Cracked)

How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind

Last sentence of the blog:

“It feels good to dismiss people, to mock them, to write them off as deplorables. But you might as well take time to try to understand them, because I’m telling you, they’ll still be around long after Trump is gone.”

John Michael Greer

Greer is a self-proclamed archdruid, and a prolific blogger and writer, on ecology, druidic lore, and social fiction. He is a bit of a weird fellow, but, hey, I am trying to understand stuff that baffles me, so I should be willing to hang out with druids and their ilk.

One of Greer’s blogs is full of reflections on peak oil, and he has another blog on magic and druidic lore. He was brought to my attention by David Carter, a former Cambridge colleague of mine.

John Michael Greer has written a beautiful book on political economy in the face of the end of growth, The Wealth of Nature. The title is an allusion, of course, to Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, but the real inspiration for the book is drawn from E.F. Schumacher’s Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered. This was written in 1973, but is still very much worth reading. I just re-read it. It is one big plea for going back to the human scale: we cannot organize society without reflection on what humans really need, and on the need for stewardship towards the environment. That reflection is badly missing in our mad run toward greater and greater efficiency of production. If you want to read or reread it too, you can find it here.

Greer’s prediction of the Trump victory was made in his blog in January 2016. Title of the blog: Donald Trump and the Politics of Resentment. The connection with resentment draws echos of Max Scheler’s famous analysis.

The Radical Left

What is called the Radical Left in US politics is what we Europeans would call the social democratic left. Authors like Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, William Blum, Daniel Elsberg (of Pentagon Papers fame) hold views that I would like to disagree with, but after reading what they have to say about US policy I must confess that I find that harder and harder. The impression I get from these critics of the Democratic Party is that nowadays there is hardly any difference between the policies pursued by the Democrats amd those of the Republican Party.

If you look at Barack Obama as a person then he is all we could wish for: impeccable academic credentials, erudite, charming, well-informed, polite. No sex scandals, happily married, family man, father of two fantastic daughters. Our kind of person, or maybe even more: the kind of person we would like to be.

But if you look at his foreign policy and the way he handled the banking crisis there is hardly any difference with what a moderate Republican would have done. Officially, the wars in Afghanistan and Irak have ended, and American troops have been withdrawn, but the drone war goes on, and there are still plenty of American ‘advisers’ present in these countries. Guantanamo Bay is still housing more than fifty inmates who never had a fair trial. The rule of law does not apply there: these fellow human beings have no rights whatsoever. Read the Wikipedia lemma on Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp if you want to know more about what went on and is continuing to go on at Gitmo.

Obama ‘solved’ the Banking crisis by following the advice of the people who had caused it: Ben Bernanke was renominated as chair of the Federal Reserve by Obama, Timothy Geithner served as United States Secretary of the Treasury from 2009 to 2016. These people advised, of course, to save the banks. Instead of using crazy amounts of money to save the banks, Obama could have given money directly to home-owners so that some of the dreadful foreclosures could have been prevented. But nobody came to the rescue of the people that were duped by the money lenders who had persuaded them to buy houses they could not afford (often after misleading them with teaser rates).

If you take this perspective it is no wonder that so many American voters were completely fed up with both Democrats and moderate Republicans.