In general, the more unexpected an event is, the more care one must take in analyzing why it happened. Like so much else that is important, adhering to that wisdom is made harder by the sheer speed and volume of information that bombards us all in this frenetic century.
A week has passed since we – well, at least those of us not wearing safety pins, lighting things on fire, or suggesting the abolition of the Electoral College – became aware that Donald Trump would be the next president of the United States. It seems longer than that, mostly because the constant barrage of idiotic explanations for that fact has created a temporal telescope effect. The brain simply reels at the notion that so much stupidity could be generated so rapidly.
A brief review:
AMERICA IS RACIST: A perennial favorite among leftists for explaining, well, everything. When pushing this one, it is helpful to avoid the question of why, or how, this racist nation so recently elected Barack Obama. Twice.
AMERICA IS SEXIST: Another hardy, all-purpose clarifier. In addition to the fact that over 50 percent of voters are female, there is the complicating factor that Trump’s “gender gap” was apparently smaller than the one often suffered by Republicans. Next.
AMERICA IS XENOPHOBIC: This one is preferred by those straining for the appearance of intellect, mostly because it is a long word that starts with an X. It has problems, though. First, we have a legal immigration system that welcomes more people than any other nation in the history of the planet. Second, it is hard to find a statement about anything political in America more universally agreed to than “We are a nation of immigrants.” Third, it seems like a nation that hated foreigners would inspire those folks to take risks and break laws trying to get out, not in. Back to the drawing board.
AMERICA IS ISLAMOPHOBIC: Promising. Let’s examine. In 2000, there were 1,209 mosques in America. In 2001, we all became aware that a small number of Muslims wanted to kill Americans, when 19 of them succeeded 2,996 times. That is an impressive kill ratio of 157-1 – not including subsequent deaths from cancer and other causes with origins in the ghastly process of searching for remains and cleanup. In 2015, there were 3,186 mosques – an increase over 15 years of 163 percent. If only my 401(k) could manage that! It is hard to square that kind of growth rate with a nation full of fear and loathing for the group doing the growing.
By now, the reader will begin to notice a pattern emerging. The most popular explanations all amount to this: America is an awful, terrible, very bad place full of morally reprehensible people, and that is why Donald Trump won. In other words, most post-election analysis is expounding upon Hillary’s infamous Basket of Deplorables.
Irony: That off-the-cuff remark was perhaps the stupidest moment of Hillary’s campaign, despite plenty of rigorous competition. It resides in the memories of political junkies everywhere, filed with Mitt Romney’s “severe” conservative and 47 percent, Sarah Palin’s (apocryphal) homebound gazing at Russia, Bush 41’s lip reading and Mike Dukakis’s wonky response to a question positing his wife’s rape. And yet, the collective response of the left in trying to make sense of what they perceive as Shakespearean tragedy is to double, triple, quadruple down on it, and more.
And here is where we find the essential key to understanding why Trump really won. For decades, Republicans have largely conceded to false assertions that the left holds the moral high ground. This cycle, that changed. Donald Trump, who is unaccustomed to conceding anything, did not go quietly into that good night. Voters’ affection for him sprang from the same well as Abraham Lincoln’s for Ulysses Grant: He fights!
Instead of silence when accused of racism, Trump pointed out that leftist do-gooders have subjected black America to horrifying inner city rates of both crime and poverty, trapped their kids in appallingly bad schools, and driven unemployment rates among their youth into the stratosphere. Instead of meekness when accused of xenophobia, Trump insisted that “sanctuary cities” are madness when they demonstrably result in the release of caught criminals who continue to victimize innocents. Instead of conceding by lack of response that he is misogynist, he highlighted his opponent blithely receiving millions of dollars from foreigners from countries that forbid women to drive and stone rape victims. And then he put a smart, accomplished woman in charge of his successful campaign.
Trump won because many millions of people are very, very tired of the moral condescension of people who mistakenly believe that they are incapable of being wrong on fundamental moral questions – despite the relative ease of demonstrating the absurdity of that belief. And if the left clings to that same smugness going forward, then its losing streak is just beginning.
Robert Heiler is a conservative speechwriter who worked for McCain-Palin 2008.
Real Clear Politics
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